Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts

Himalaya Spring 2017: The Kangchenjunga Skyline Expedition - 3 Miles Across the Death Zone

Earlier today I posted a story about some interesting expeditions to follow in the Himalaya this spring the aren't taking place on Everest. Not long after that story went live on The Adventure Blog, we got news of yet another very interesting climb that is set to get underway soon as well, with one of the most difficult mountains in the world as the target.

This morning, Simone Moro took the wraps off of his next project which is called the Kangchenjunga Skyline Expedition. As has been the case in most of his recent expeditions, he'll be climbing with Tamara Lunger on what promises to be one of the most difficult endeavors of their careers – which is definitely saying something.

The plan is for the the duo to attempt an incredibly difficult and high altitude traverse without the use of supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support. They'll start on the Kangchenjunga plateau and cross over four massive peaks along the way, starting with Yalung Kang (8505 m/27,902 ft), then on to the third highest peak on the planet in Kangchenjunga itself at 8586 meters (28,169 ft), before proceeding on to Kangchenjunga Central (8482 m/27,828 ft), before proceeding to Kangchenjunga South (8476 m/27,808 ft). Along the way, they'll cover more than 5.5 km (3.5 miles) above 8300 meters (27,230 ft), all the while trekking above the so called "Death Zone" without bottled oxygen.

Once acclimatized, Simone and Tamara will spend seven days on the traverse, completely unsupported along the way. If they are successful, it will be the longest traverse at altitude ever.

To learn more about this impressive expedition, check out the announcement video below.


Video: Eastward Through Nepal, India, and Beyond

This beautiful video condenses a three month journey through Nepal, India, Thailand, and Vietnam down to a two-and-a-half-minute clip that provides some of the most stunning highlights from that journey. And what stunning highlights they are. From the Himalaya to the shores of the Indian Ocean, across jungles, hilltops, and rivers, we get an all-too brief glimpse of this part of the world. If you haven't visited this region yet, chances are you'll want to after watching this. Sit back and savor every moment of it.

Eastward from David Struik on Vimeo.

Video: Valleys in the Sky

Take a journey into the High Himalaya of India with this video, which not only shows us the incredibly beautiful landscapes that can be found there, but the incredibly beautiful people too. The clip takes us to the remote village of Mudh, where the inhabitants live a simple but happy life surrounded by the tallest mountains on the planet. It is a wonderful look at a part of the world that few of us ever get the chance to see.

Valleys in the Sky from Nathaniel Connella on Vimeo.

Nepal Fines Guiding Company for False Everest Summit Claims

Remember the story of the Indian couple who faked their Everest summit last spring? It was a husband and wife duo by the name Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod who said they had reached the top of the highest mountain on Earth, only to discover later that they had faked their summit photos and never really made it above Base Camp. The two Indian police officers would later receive a 10 year ban on climbing in Nepal, and have been suspended from their jobs ever since. Now, the Nepali government is taking action against the guiding company that led them to Base Camp for also falsifying information.

According to The Himalayan Times, the Rathods were led to Everest BC by a company called Makalu Adventure, which is now being fined $4000 for submitting fake claims to the Department of Tourism in Nepal. Representatives from the company submitted falsified documents in order to obtain summit certificates for Dinesh and Tarkeshwari. But of course, the couple never reached the summit, and that had to have been known by the Sherpa guides, who first corroborated their claims, but then later backed off as the scrutiny intensified.

Under Nepal law, the government there has the right to fine Makalu Adventure as much as much as Rs 25,000, which is roughly $230. But, in this case, the DoT has elected to keep the company's $4000 garbage deposit, which is money that guide services put down in good faith, with the idea that it will be returned to them following an expedition, provided they pack out all of their garbage.

The ruling was just made within the past few days after members of the Department of Tourism spoke with Furba and Fursemba Sherpa, who were members of the team. Those two guides have been out of contact for months, but finally were able to come forward and be interviewed about the situation. They testified that the Rathods never went above 6000 meters (19,685 ft), and therefore couldn't have summited the mountain as they – along with Liaison Officer Ganesh Prasad Timsina and Makalu Adventure – had claimed.

Initially, representatives from Makalu Adventures blamed the Sherpas for the false reports, but that doesn't actually seem to be the case. The entire incident has Nepali officials reviewing the country's current laws and policies governing mountaineering, including the use of liaison officers, who have been the subject of much scrutiny recently due to the fact that most never even go to Everest Base Camp with the teams they are suppose to be working with.

The whole affair has been a messy one from the start. Hopefully now it will be put behind us and we can start thinking about the spring climbing season ahead. It isn't as far off as you might think at this point.

Indian Expedition to Re-Measure Everest this Spring

The Indian government has announced plans to send an expedition to Mt. Everest in Nepal this spring to re-measure the height of the mountain. A team of surveyors will head to the Himalaya in two months time, where they will use high tech equipment – including satellite data, GPS devices, and other observational gear – to detect if the 2015 earthquake had a measurable impact on the peak.

The last time an Indian survey team visited Everest with the intention of measuring the height of the mountain was back in 1955. That's when the current most accepted height of 8848 meters (29,029 ft) was recorded. A more recent survey by the National Geographic Society took place in 2003, which recorded the height at 8849 meters (29,035 ft), although the Nepali government never formally adopted that data to reflect the height of the mountain. This new survey should help to determine which number is more accurate.

But beyond that, the plan is to see what the impact of the April 25, 2015 earthquake had on the height of Everest. It is believed that the mountain lost an inch or more of altitude due to the massive quake, which caused widespread devastation throughout the country, killing more than 9000 people and injuring thousands more.

In terms of its impact on the climb, an inch difference in height is imperceptible to anyone heading to the summit, but in geological terms it is a large increment. If the mountain did indeed move by that much in such a short time, it is an indication of just how powerful the earthquake truly was.

Meanwhile, the Nepalese government says that they have not approved an Indian survey team to operate in and around Everest this year, and that they are planning to conduct their own research on the current height of the mountain. Unsurprisingly, researchers from within the country say that while Everest may have shrunk during the quake, there are some that believe it may have gotten taller too.

No matter which team conducts the survey is expected to take about a month to collect all of the data and another two weeks to examine it. They'll observe the mountain both from the ground and the air, and will likely want to send someone to the summit carrying a GPS device as well. Either way, by summer the new measurement should be complete, and we should have an idea of how tall Everest truly is.

No Major Winter Climbing Expeditions This Year?

Now that the fall climbing season in the Himalaya is done, we would typically turn our attention to the winter climbing season that would usually get underway near the end of December. But, it appears that there won't be any major expeditions to the big mountains this year as numerous teams take a break and look forward to next year.

According to a blog post by German adventure sports journalist Stefan Nestler, two of the more prominent names in winter mountaineering are staying home for sure this year. Polish climber Tomek Mackiewicz has been a staple on Nanga Parbat the last six years, but he won't be going this winter. He says that he couldn't raise the funds necessary to launch the expedition, which was probably made all the more difficult considering Italian climber Simone Moro, along with Basque mountaineer Alex Txikon, and the Pakistani Muhammad Ali “Sadpara”, put up the first winter ascent of that mountain last February. They were accompanied on that expedition by Tamara Lunger, who was forced to turn back due to illness. Lunger says she'll pass on a winter ascent this year as well as she focuses on getting her helicopter pilots license instead. Next year, she hope to attempt Everest in winter however.

As of now, there are no expeditions announced for any of the Himalaya or Karakoram peaks. That could obviously change, as a lot of climbers keep their plans close to the vest until they're ready to set out. But now that K2 is the last remaining 8000-meter peak that has not been climbed during the winter months, it seems most have decided to stay home. K2 is treacherous enough under the best of conditions, but is even more deadly in the winter. That said, there are already some teams gearing up for a winter expedition to that peak as well, it is just a matter of when they will go.

Nestler reports that Indian climber Arjun Vajpai has announced that he'll make a winter ascent of a 7000-meter peak in his home country, but he hasn't said which one just yet. The 23-year old mountaineer has already summited five 8000-meter peaks, and appears to have a promising career ahead. How he does on a winter climb should be interesting to follow.

While at the moment it doesn't appear that we'll have any big winter climbs this season, that doesn't mean that there won't be interesting expeditions to keep an eye on. Last year, Moro and Lunger didn't go to Nanga Part until well into January, and we could see something similar this season. Perhaps we'll have a few expeditions pop up on the radar as the winter gets rolling along. But if not, 2017 is already shaping up to be a promising one for winter mountaineering.

Video: Alive in the Himalaya

To wrap up the week, take a three-and-a-half minute journey to the Himalaya in northern India courtesy of this video, which captures the amazing landscapes of that part of the world in spectacular fashion. Shot during a three-week journey from Himachal Pradesh to Kashmir, the clip gives us a glimpse of the towering mountain peaks, the lush forests, and remote valleys that are found there. But more than that, it shows us the people and culture that exist there, not to mention one adorable pup. I'm not particularly wild about the narration at the beginning, but once it gets going, the video is mesmerizing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Alive from Alessandro Rovere on Vimeo.

Couple Who Faked Everest Summit Suspended From Indian Police Force

One of the biggest stories to come out of the spring 2016 Everest climbing season was about an Indian couple who faked their climb but said they reached the summit anyway. They used doctored photos of the top of Everest, and applied for a summit certificate, but later their story made headlines across the globe as it was revealed that they were a fraud. Now, it seems the couple is in trouble back home, where they have reportedly been suspended from their jobs as police officers.

According to this story from The Himalayan Times, Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod received the suspension after an investigation was conducted by the Pune police department in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The investigation started after the husband and wife team were outed for their false Everest summit claims. They will now remain on suspension until it can be determined whether or not they should be fired altogether.

While in some countries, a summit of Everest is viewed as a badge of honor and respect, in others it can lead to much more. In some parts of the of the world, climbing the highest peak on the planet can lead to fame, fortunate, promotions at your job and a level of celebrity status. India is one such country where this holds true.

Allegedly, the Rathods often talked about wanting to climb big peaks together, and had been planning an Everest summit for some time. This past spring, they finally went to Nepal, where they had told others they would attempt to summit the mountain. Later, the claimed to have done so, but used false images to back up their claim. An investigation by the Nepali government showed that the duo never stepped foot on the mountain, but instead only trekked to Base Camp.

Following that revelation, the couple's summit certificates were revoked and the they found themselves in hot water, receiving a 10 year ban from climbing in Nepal. Numerous news outlets from around the globe shared their story, and they were soon disgraced in the mountaineering community and beyond. Now, it seems they could lose their jobs as a result as well. Apparently they have not returned to work since this past May.

While being fired from your job for falsifying summit claims may sound a bit harsh, if the culture of a country is one that highly celebrates an Everest summit, it also seems likely that the punishment is going to be significant as well. It seems likely that these the couple will never work as police officers again, and will have this story follow them around for quite some time. Those are severe consequences, but their actions were pretty outlandish too. Hopefully, others will learn from this.

Meet the First Men to Fly Over Everest

If you've seen the big Hollywood film Everest that came out last year, you probably heard one of the characters deliver a line about how the team would be climbing at the same altitude as a commercial jetliner. Today, aircraft fly over or around the mountain on a regular basis, and no one thinks twice about it, but back in 1933 that still seemed like an impossible height to take an aircraft, particularly in an age when pressurized cabins were not necessarily the norm just yet. But two daring pilots made that flight, and lived to tell the tale. And they did so in a biplane that is down right ancient when compared to modern aircraft.

Mashable recently posted a story and some great  photos from that epic adventure that was called the Houston Everest Expedition because it was sponsored by a wealthy British philanthropist known as Lady Houston. She put up the money that allowed RAF pilot Douglas Douglas-Hamilton (aka Lord Clydesdale) and Colonel Stewart Blacker to attempt to fly a Westland PV-3 biplane over the top of the world's highest mountain, something that seemed incredibly dangerous at the time.

The two men took off from an airstrip near Purnea, India on the morning of April 3, 1933. They were accompanied by a second aircraft flown by Flight Lieutenant David McIntyre and a photographer named S.R. Bonnett. The second plane was there to record the event for posterity and get some fantastic images of this daring flight. The photographer did not disappoint.

As it turns out, the mission was a test for both pilots and aircraft, as there was indeed no pressurized cabins. The four men who were aboard the two planes had to rely on oxygen masks to keep their wits about them and help them breathe at such an altitude. On top of that, it was rare for any airplane to fly at such heights at that point in history, and the small biplane struggled in the thin air just as much as her crew.

When the two planes approached Everest, high winds caused even more problems, forcing the planes to drop 1500 feet (457 meters). But in the end, they were able to climb back up to 29,029 feet (8848 meters) and pass over the top of the summit for the very first time. All four men were given high accolades with Lord Clydesdale earning the Air Force Cross for his leadership. Bonnett's photos and video footage were also used to create an Academy Award winning film called Wings Over Everest as well. You can watch that film below.

The story of this expedition is an amazing one. Today we take it for granted that we fly at such a height, but back in 1933 it was almost as if they were trying to go to the moon. Fortunately, they proved that aircraft are sturdier than was believed and that man can go to higher heights that was previously believed. It would be 20 years before Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay would actually climb to the summit, but this intrepid crew helped lead the way.


Nat Geo Gives Us the Best Outdoor Towns in the World

Looking for a great town to serve as base camp for your next outdoor adventure? Thinking about relocating to a place that offers more opportunities to pursue the things you love? Why not let National Geographic help with their picks for the world's best towns for outdoor thrills.
Some of the places earning a nod include towns that you would expect. Places like Moab, Utah and El Chaltén, Argentina. Others are a bit more unexpected, such as Niseko, Japan or Ely, Minnesota. It isn't as if those places weren't known for being great outdoor destinations, but to see them ranked amongst the very best (Nat Geo names nine places in total), is refreshing to say the least.

Each place is also accompanied by a nice description of why it deserves a spot on this very distinguished list with details on what it has to offer for visitors. Nat Geo even provided information on when it is the best time of the year to visit to take advantage of the opportunities that each place has to offer. For instance, summer can be hot in Moab, so September is a good time to go, although the author says not to overlook winter as well. Meanwhile, if you're planning on going to Niseko it is probably for the skiing, which is best between December and February.

Of course, with such a short list some places had to be left off, but there were a few surprises for towns that do not appear here. For instance, Chamonix, France is considered one of the great outdoor meccas of the world and yet it doesn't appear on Nat Geo's radar. Similarly, you could just as easily have substituted places like Boulder, Colorado or Jackson Hole, Wyoming, amongst other great mountain towns in the U.S. Still, the places that were selected are very deserving, and bring a nice exotic flair to the list with places like Australia, South Africa, India, and Peru enticing travelers.

To find out which places made the cut, read the entire list here. Then come back and leave a comment with the places that you think should have made the cut. After all, some of your favorite places probably didn't make it.

Video: The Ultimate Descent - From Everest to the Indian Ocean

In 2011, Sanobabu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tshiri Sherpa completed one of the most difficult and unexpected adventures in recent memory. The two men began by climbing to the summit of Everest, where they then deployed a paraglider and launched from the summit, flying down the Khumbu Valley to Namche Bazaar,  where they then embarked on the second stage of their journey – a kayaking trip down the Sun Kosi River that would ultimately take them to the Indian Ocean. Along the way they faced Class V rapids and the real threat of drowning, even as the Nepal military was searching for them since their Everest flight wasn't exactly sanctioned.

This video is from a news report about this crazy expedition. It was obviously filmed not long after they made the climb, flight, and paddle. The clip was recently posted online however, and for those that don't know the story, it is an interesting one. It was quite the adventure going from the summit of the world's tallest mountain to the sea level in just a few short weeks.

Indian Couple Who Faked Everest Summit Face 10-Year Ban

Remember that Indian couple who were accused of faking their summit of Everest this past spring? It appears that a decision will soon be made on their fate, and it seems they'll not only be stripped of their summit certificates but they're also facing a very long ban from climbing on Everest again.

If you're not familiar with the story, Dinesh and Tarkeshwari Rathod are a husband and wife team who also happen to be police officers back in India. The two claimed to have reach the summit of Everest this past spring, but holes were punched in their story when photos that purported to show them on top of the world's highest peak appeared doctored. It seemed as if they had used photoshop to put themselves on the summit when they hadn't even gotten close to the point. The situation got even murkier when the Nepali guide service that they hired for the expedition certified their summit without any real evidence that they had topped out. Later, when the story received more scrutiny, government ministers in Nepal were forced to retract their summit certificates, and launch an investigation into the proceedings.

Last week, The Himalayan Times reported that a high-level committee looking into the situation has recommended at least a ten-year ban be placed on the couple. That means that for the next decade they would not be able to climb in Nepal at all. The investigation confirmed that the Rathods had made false claims about their expedition and had submitted doctored photos of their climb when applying for the certificates.

Furthermore, the committee also recommended delisting the climbing Sherpas that were with the Indian couple from the climbing record as well. They were working with the company called Makalu Adventure Treks at the time, and are considering action against another member of the team who had backed up the Rathods' claims. It doesn't appear that there will be any actions taken against the government liaison officer who may or may not have been in Base Camp during the time of the expedition either, but it is possible that any member of the expedition could also receive a minimum of a five-year ban.

The couple has stayed mum on all of these proceedings since the news broke, but it seems likely they were hoping to add an Everest summit to their resume to potentially increase their fortunes back in India, a country with a proud climbing tradition. An Everest summit there is seen as quite an accomplishment, which can lead to fame, money, and increased social standing. Now however, they instead face deep shame from their actions.

Video: Meet the Himalaya

Want an intimate look at the Himalaya Mountains and the people that live there? Than all you have to do is watch this film. It takes us to India, Nepal, and Tibet to show us just how spectacularly beautiful this part of the world truly is. But more than that, it shows us how beautiful the mountain people of the Himalaya are as well. This is a moving, touching, spectacular five-minute clip that you won't want to miss.

HIMALAYA from Berta Tilmantaitė on Vimeo.

World's Tiger Population on the Rise for First Time in 100 Years

Last week we shared the sad news that a rare sumatran rhino that was discovered in the wild last month died of complications from an infection just days after it was captured. That was a sad blow to conservation efforts for the species, which is considered critically endangered, with only a few of the creatures still known to exist. But, those same wildlife conservationists got good news this past weekend when it was revealed that the world's tiger population has started to rebound for the first time in a century.

According to a new report from the World Wildlife Fund, there are now 3890 tigers worldwide, up from 3200 in 2010. Most of those gains are due to improved census processes and better protected areas in Russia, India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Further efforts are also underway in Malaysia, China, Indonesia, and Myanmar as well, but it is more difficult to estimate the number of tigers in those countries due to no formal conservation programs existing there.

The report goes on to say that two-thirds of the world's tigers live in India, where the numbers have gone up from 1706 to 2226 over the past five years. Those gains have come in the form of anti-poaching efforts as well as offering compensation to farmers and villagers who have suffered loss due to tiger attacks.

This is all good news for the big cat population, and it is encouraging for conservation efforts all over the world. There was a time when it seemed that the tiger might vanish from the wild on our planet, and while the species isn't completely out of the woods yet, these numbers are very encouraging. If this trend continues – and there is no reason to suspect it won't – we may be able to pull the tiger back from the threat of extinction. That is great news indeed.

Video: Snow Leopard Makes Rare Appearance For Skiers in India

The snow leopard is one of the rarest and most endangered species on the planet. So much so that they are seldom captured on video. But a group of skiers and snowboarders traveling through Gulmarg, in the Kashmir region of India, got the chance to spot one in the wild, and captured the encounter on video. You can check it out for yourself below.

Leopard in the snow in Gulmarg, Kashmir from PreviousNext on Vimeo.

Video: Impossible - Running a 333 km Ultramarathon in the Himalaya

There are some very difficult ultramarathons held all over the world each year, but few can compare with La Ultra - The High. The race is held in the Indian Himalaya, and features a course that is 333 km (206 miles) in length. Competitors must cover the distance in just 72 hours, starting  at the base of the Karakoram Range in Nubra Valley and continuing on over mountain passes and through deep valleys.

Due to its extreme length, dramatic elevation gains, and incredibly tough trails, The High has been called the "world's cruelest ultra." Don't believe me? Have a look at the video below, which is a trailer for a full length documentary on the race. You'll catch a glimpse of some of the suffering that comes along with this race, and gain even more respect for the men and women who run it.

IMPOSSIBLE - Trailer from UPSLOPE PRODUCTIONS on Vimeo.

Video: The Making of Meru

Earlier this year, the acclaimed climbing film Meru was released, giving us an incredible look at two expeditions by Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin, and Renan Ozturk to climb the infamous Shark Fin on Mt. Meru in India, with the trio finally completing the first ascent of that massive rock wall in 2010. If you haven't had the chance to see this documentary yet, you should do so as soon as possible. It is simply amazing, with some of the best mountaineering and climbing footage you could ever hope for.

If you have seen the film, you probably have wondered how it was made. Obviously the three climbers, and in particular Jimmy, did most of the shooting, which was later compiled together to make Meru. But there was more to it than just that, as you'll see in this video which is part of the Nat Geo Live series.

In the clip, Chin and filmmaker Elizabeth "Chai" Vasarhelyi discuss how the film came into being, and the process it took to put it altogether. Truly fascinating stuff, particularly if you've seen the movie and want to know how it was made.

Video: The Himalaya in Timelapse

Shot at various places in the Himalaya, this video takes us into the mountains, giving us a glimpse of the snowcapped peaks that the region is so well know for. Along the way, you'll also see Buddhist temples, stupas, villages, and a wide variety of other interesting features. This is a three-minute trip through one of the most spectacularly beautiful parts of the world, and a perfect way to round out our week.

And when you're ready to visit the Himalaya for yourself, check out all of the options that Mountain Travel Sobek has to offer. The company not only offers trips to Nepal and Tibet, but Bhutan and India as well. No matter which part of the Himalaya that you'd like to visit, chances are MTS can take you there.

Revisiting Himalayas from Anurag Jetly on Vimeo.

Video: Frozen Highway Trailer - Mountain Biking Through the Himalaya

Earlier this year, two Indian adventures – Rajesh P Nayak and Sharath Vishnu – attempted a winter crossing by mountain bike through the Himalaya. The two men decided to ride their bikes along the frozen Zanskar river through the highest motorable passes of Khardung La and Chang La in the Ladakh region, covering some 600 km (372 miles) in the process. A documentary team came along with them to capture their efforts, and that footage is now being turned into a film called Frozen Highway. The video below is a trailer for that film, and gives us a brief glimpse of what it was like for Rajesh and Sharath out on the trail. To say it was a challenge would be an understatement, as you'll see below.

New Report Indicates Glaciers on Everest Have Shrunk 28% in 40 Years

A new report has confirmed something that most of us have known for sometime. According to a new study conducted by the Chinese Academy of Science, the glaciers on Mt. Everest have shrunk by more than 28% over the past 40 years, with the majority of that shrinkage coming since the 1980's.

The report, which was released a few days back, places the blame squarely on climate change. The study indicates that Everest has been getting warmer for the past 50 years, but that increase in temperature has started to occur more rapidly in recent decades.

The glaciers that surround Everest are a major source of water throughout Asia, and as they have shrunk in size, the glacial lakes found throughout the region, as well as the rivers that they feed, have swelled. Researchers found one lake in Tibet's Mt. Everest nature preserve grew from 100 sq. km (62 sq. miles) in the 1990's, to 114 sq. km (70 sq. miles) in 2013.

As the melting continues, it could have major consequences throughout Asia. In the short term, flooding could become more of an issue, with increased erosion causing damage to the surrounding countryside, to to mention threatening villages and people living along the banks of the many streams and rivers that find their source in the more than 1400 glaciers that are found throughout the region. But in the long term, the loss of the glaciers will ultimately lead to less water, which could have dire consequences for farmers and for those who rely on power generated by hydro sources.

Another report that was released earlier in the year indicated that of the 5500 glaciers that fall across the Hindu Kush and Himalaya region, most could lose 70%-99% of their mass by the year 2100. The impact that those changes would have on the region would be devastating.

Climate change is real, its impacting our planet, and the consequences it holds for our future are frightening. It doesn't matter who or what is causing it, we need to take steps now to try to first slow its advances, and then eventually reverse its impact. That isn't going to be easy, but if we intend to leave the Earth for future generations to explore as well, it is a necessity.