What I knew was that we were in for a fantastic trip, big mountains, new culture, some real experiences far from home. What I didn't prepare for was the beauty of a place that is overwhelming physically and emotionally. I went for the mountains, but came home with the people.
Nepalis are some of the kindest, happiest, most generous people I have ever met. They live close to the land, celebrating life every day through their work and religion that is shared through their smiles and wonderfully calm and content attitudes. Day after day we met men, women, and children who greeted us with "Namaste". In over three weeks I never witnessed anxiety, stress, or anger.
Six of us from San Luis Obispo spent three weeks walking around Manaslu Himal, the 8th. highest mountain in the world. We trekked into a high valley close to Tibet that has been open to westerners for only a few years. We stayed with the local people, sometimes in their homes, sometimes in monasteries. With very few modern amenities they provided us a place to stay, and delicious meals every day.
We walked on average 8 to 10 miles per day, climbed a total of 84,000 feet, and crossed a high pass at 17,000ft. The numbers meant nothing, we just walked in and out of small villages, past small farms, up a gigantic river gorge, shadowed by the highest ranges on earth.
Thanks have to be given to the Nepalis who shepherded us, Karna owner of Mother House Trekking in Kathmandu, Chandra our perfect guide, Aishing, Hari, and Dill our dedicated porters, and to every smiling local who shared their home with us. Nancy and I are really grateful to Ray and Donette and Mark and Megan who joined us, they organized, laughed, and waited for me taking photos.
Photographically it was a dream. I came home with over 3500 images even after editing on a nightly basis. Many times I had to just stop taking pictures. I will try to convey the scale, the enormity of the place, and the kindness and hardships of the people, but in the end I don't think it's possible.
Please take your time to look at these, make a cup of coffee or tea, and enjoy. This is part one.
The Big Mountains
The High Himalayas are visually in a place where only clouds should be. My first view of Shiringi Himal brought me to tears. Green forested mountainsides rise from deep gorges and high valleys to the 10,000ft. elevation, then peaks more than twice as high lift into the deep blue sky, permanent ice and rock. From the highest mountains on earth Buddhists Gods reside there watching over.
Click on any image to enlarge it on your full screen.
|Sunrise on Manaslu Himal, 26,758
First sun rays on the planet.
|The Ganesh Himal from Mu Gompa, Tsum Valley
Ten thousand vertical feet of ice.
|High up on Pashubo Himal from Chhule Nile, Tsum Valley.
|A kiss below Shiringi Himal, 23,500ft.
|Moonset, Nyingmapa Monastery
An unearthly golden sunrise is reflected on the spires and roofs of the gompas.
|Nuns return home from a resupply, high above the Tsum Valley. 12,200ft. Mu Gompa.
|Full moon and sunrise, Larkye Peak
|Collecting Dung at 12,600ft. Samdo.
A Tibetan woman picks fresh Yak Dung predawn to cook and heat with. Somewhere around 30 degrees.
|Tibetan Ponies high above the Budhi Gandaki River, Samdo.
|Ray, Donette, and Megan below Larkye Peak
|Nancy leads Aishing on the climb to high camp below the North spur of Naike Peak.
|The Night Sky at Dharamsala High Camp, Larkye Phedi
Just a few stars, at 14,600ft the stars are touchable. I didn't see the shooting star until later.
|The North Ridge of Phungi Himal from Bim Phedi.
Scale is impossible there.
The man is standing at 12,000ft. a quarter mile away. The peak is 20,500ft. ten miles away.
|Annapurna II, 26,040ft. from below Larkye Pass
We dropped 5000 feet in an afternoon, between the Manaslu and Annapurna ranges.
|Himlung Peak after Sunset. Bim Phedi.
Light stays on the peaks long after the sun sets.
|Northwest face of Manaslu and Phungi. Bimphedi.
The peaks share the evening sky with the stars.
|Kechakyu Himal from Bim Phedi
An unnamed peak catches the sun in the "bluest blue".