Sunday, April 5, 2020

Himalaya Alpine Guides Update

     Greetings from Nepal, it's been a while since this news page has received an update. We are currently monitoring the situation with the covid-19 outbreak, with full intentions of planning to run as many skiing, climbing and trekking trips as possible for 2020 and the future. We care about you, and we care about our staff. We want the best possible outcome for this situation.
     Since I updated the page in February 2018 we have had many expeditions in Nepal, India, and China's Tibet. Highlights include ski touring in the Annapurna Sanctuary for February of 2019 and 2020, ski touring in the Humla region in far West Nepal for March of 2019 and 2020, along with continued mountaineering trips in Ladakh in the summers and autumn mountaineering expeditions in the Nepal Himalayas. We are excited for the future and encourage you to reach out to us with questions and planning.

-Luke Smithwick | Pokhara, Nepal | 1049 | 1600m | April 6, 2020

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Annapurna Ski Touring - February 2018

In February 2018, I made two trips into the Annapurna Sanctuary for ski touring. We accessed the Sanctuary by flying with Siddarth Gurung, an excellent pilot with Simrik Helicopters in Pokhara. We met Siddarth at the Pokhara airport with our skis, touring packs, and a change of clothes. He flew us into the Annapurna Base Camp lodge, about a 20 minute flight. When we landed, we had ski touring access right out our door and had 4 spectacular days of ski touring before flying in the helicopter back to Pokhara. Jen Lukacic and Anna Fridlyanskaya joined me for this adventure, and on the second trip Bryan Fox, Austin Smith, and Bob Plumb for another week.

Snowboarding fresh snow in the Annapurna Sanctuary of Nepal. February 2018 / rider: Austin Smith // photo: Luke Smithwick

Skiing powder in the Annapurna Sanctuary. skier: Luke Smithwick / photo: Bob Plumb

Ski touring in the Annapurna Sanctuary. // skier: Jenn Lukacic // photo: Luke Smithwick

My next ski trip to the Annapurna region is February 2019 (click here)

Ski touring Himalayas gear list

More about Luke Smithwick

Luke's current global ski offerings

What is backcountry skiing?

Himalaya Rescue Insurance

Ski Touring Ladakh Indian Himalayas in June 2019

Monday, September 3, 2018

Kishtwar Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding - January 2018

During the dry January of 2018, I traveled to the Kishtwar region of Southeastern Kashmir to quest for first ski & snowboard descents with snowboarders Neil Provo, Nick Russell, and Gray Thompson. The three of them brought splitboards with them, which are a style of snowboard that splits in half, allowing you to walk uphill on the two parts of the board. More about that here.

The trip went as well as it could have with the low amount of snow. We accomplished a descent of a nice couloir in the region, found a lot more for the future, and caught a nice powder day in Gulmarg to cap off the trip.

If you'd like to learn more about ski touring, splitboarding, ski mountaineering, and snowboard mountaineering in Kishtwar and in the Himalayas, send me a message.

Information page about me-Luke Smithwick
Luke Smithwick athlete:
Himalaya Alpine Guides:

Some images of the trip:

Gray Thompson cutting hot pow in the birch trees of Gulmarg, Kashmir.

Nick Russell on a cold morning of fresh pow in Gulmarg.

Neil Provo flowing through Kashmiri powder.

A tea stop in Kishtwar.

Touring in Kishtwar National Park

Booting a couloir in Kishtwar National Park

Big terrain for ski and snowboard mountaineering in Kishtwar, India.

Self-supported backcountry skiing and snowboarding carrying everything on your back
 More of Luke Smithwick's Himalaya #skiing projects:

Ladakh Ski Mountaineering:
Annapurna Snowboarding:
Tibet Ski Mountaineering:

Zanskar Sumdo Peak Exploratory - October 2017

The trekking horses, crew, and the massive peaks of the Lahaul Himalayas. Let's go back (!). -Luke
In October 2017 I made a short trip into the original trailhead (Zanskar Sumdo) of the classic Zanskar trek (Darcha-Lamayuru). The area has iconic peaks including 6318m Ramjak, 6162m Gangsthang, and many other unnamed peaks. The goal of this quick two week trip was multi-pitch rock climbing along with an ascent of a smaller peak in the area. Agnieszka Pilarczyk, Linda Eketoft, Kunsang Thakchod, Phuntsok Dorje, and Tsarap Dorje joined me for this mini expedition. -Luke Smithwick

Some images of the trip (more once I return to my hard drives):

Racking up for some multi-pitch rock climbing at 4500 meters in Lahaul with perfect October weather.


What to bring on a 6000m mountaineering trip in the Himalayas:


Testimonials about Himalaya Alpine Guides:


Climbing grades explained:


 Contact me if you'd like to chat more about skiing, climbing, trekking and exploring in India's Lahaul Himalayas. - Luke Smithwick (click here)


Sunday, September 2, 2018

Api Himal Exploratory - November 2017

api nampa conservation area trekking
The spectacular cliff trail trekking of Api Nampa Conservation Area.
Greetings from Leh, Ladakh, India. I have not written on the Himalaya Alpine Guides blog in quite some time.  Time to catch up a bit. Let's begin at the end of 2017. In November 2017, I made an exploratory trek into far west Nepal with the goal of making some small climbs of lesser peaks of the Api Nampa massif and learning more about the fascinating local culture.  Jerry Clayton, Nick Godfrey, Anna Fridlyanskaya, Gomba Sherpa, and many others joined me for this expedition. The plan was simple. Arrive Kathmandu, fly Nepalgunj, and drive into the foothills beneath the Api Nampa watershed.

Over the course of three weeks, we trekked, explored, did some small climbs, met a local who had a pet Himalayan Tahr he'd raised from birth, and breathed clean air. I am ready to go back for two big mountaineering objectives. One is an unclimbed 6000 meter peak, and the other is a face on Nampa itself. Contact me if you'd like to learn more about climbing, skiing, trekking and exploring in Nepal's Api Nampa Conservation Area. - Luke Smithwick

Also, check out this interesting publication on the Raute people of Far West Nepal. They pride themselves on being the last hunter-gatherer culture of Nepal.

The South Wall of 6757m Mount Nampa

api nampa trekking
Another view of the spectacular trekking (left) trail into Api Nampa Conservation Area

Dusk on 6850m Jethi Bahurani after an afternoon snow shower
A lammergeier soars above Api Nampa Conservation Area

What people say about Himalaya Alpine Guides:


“Just want to thank you (Luke) again for looking after us on the recent expedition and making sure we had everything. And not to forget the rafting, that was special. I had a great great time and experience with you all.” -L. Tanpian, Indonesia

“We got great value in the experience, food, regional expertise, Luke!!.  Perfect attitude all around!”
-E. Grapa, Mexico

“This was, without question, one of the most magnificent trips I have done.  The best trekking food I’ve ever had.”
-A. Slinger, England

“Having spent three superb weeks in Lahdaq and remote Zanskar with Luke, I can heartily recommend him as a guide. In addition to the requisite alpine skills and Himalaya experience, Luke is blessed with sharp instincts, sound judgement and a considerate regard for his clients’ abilities and needs. With great good humour, Luke and his expert team guided us to places that exceeded all expectations, and gave us brilliant opportunities to experience them for ourselves. Almost a year later, I am still mining the rich vein of impressions gained during the exploratory and adventurous leg of our trek through Zanskar, and feel that I owe Luke and his team a debt of gratitude worth more than any amount paid. My advice to anyone wanting a real adventure in that part of the world, as opposed to a mere holiday, can be distilled into four words: go with Himalaya Alpine.” -R. Cross, New Zealand

“The level of service was amazing, brilliant food, tents up quickly, being helped over any potential difficult piece. It was a fabtrip.”
-I. Caroline, New Zealand

We really enjoyed the “boutique” style. Exceptional guides / cook, comfortable equipment: tents conzatina folding mats, plastic mats under tents, etc. I was impressed with the resources provided on my trek last year which influenced my decision to do this trip but this trips resources (people, equipment) surpasses last years – pretty impressive!” -K. Bond, Australia

“A great trip.  I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone wanting a different trekking experience.”
-M. Cook, Canada

“I just wanted to say thanks again. I think about the trip all the time, it was everything I expected. Thanks.” -G. Zjilma, Canada

“Lots of great memories. Thank you. Keep in touch.” -B. Ryan, Australia

“I just wanted to thank you for the trip. It was a beautiful journey. Thank you for this.” L. Vindevoghel, Switzerland

“Thanks for a great trip.” -J. Clayton, USA

“I trekked the Upper Zanskar Traverse with Luke and his competent team last year and have been recommending them to other interested trekker friends ever since. I have trekked in many areas and this has been one of the most memorable treks for me. This was due to Luke’s leadership and expert team, the comfortable conditions upon arrival at our campsites and the stunning, isolated area we were traversing. It was a completely different adventure trekking experience and one that is still extremely vivid to me although many months have passed. I would not hesitate to trek again with Luke and his outstanding team.” -K. Bond, Australia