Latest news from the Himalaya and Karakoram

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Trip report for Ladakh Sky Trail GHT led by Almas Khan in August/ September 2017

Photo: Tso Moriri lake at finish of LST
In August/ September 2017 we organised our 4th Ladakh Sky Trail GHT in northern India. Almas Khan is the leader and organiser for this trek and this year we had an international mix with people coming from Australia, USA and UK.

As mentioned in previous trip reports our Ladakh Sky Trail GHT is a unique itinerary designed by Almas and travels through the best of the three areas of this region: Ladakh, Zanskar and Changthang/ Rupshu. For most of Ladakh Sky Trail GHT we follow rarely trekked trails and this is only possible due to the local knowledge of Almas and our local Ladakhi guides.

These days in most areas of the Himalaya there are more and more trekking groups around and with increasing construction of roads means that more places are accessible. With many years experience of running treks in the Himalaya The Mountain Company specialises in searching out and organising the most remote treks with fewer other groups around. If you are looking to get truly off the beaten track then Ladakh Sky Trail is a good choice for India, Lunana Snowman for Bhutan and Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT for Nepal.

Our Ladakh Sky Trail GHT group arrived to Leh on August 15th and on 18th drove to Lamayuru (3,500m) and 19th they started the trek. One of the changes we implemented for this year was to have three nights in Leh whereas in previous years we only had two nights. As Leh is located at 3,500m the more time one has here to adjust to this high altitude the better before heading off on trek and ascending high passes.

The feedback from this group has been positive with no reported issues relating to altitude sickness and Almas feels that having an extra night in Leh helps everyone feel stronger during the first week on the trek. There are lots of interesting places to see in and around Leh so this extra time is used well to get a feel for the scenery, culture and pace of life in Ladakh.

Photo: river crossings during LST
As for all or our treks in the Himalayas we received bespoke weather forecast from Michael Fagin at Fortunately the weather was good for our 2017 Ladakh Sky Trail GHT trek and for your information I have copied Almas’s words from his trip report:

“The weather on the trip was good. The days were hot in the beginning of the trek till we reached Zangla. It rained only one day while we were in the gorge. That day we camped short at Tilat Sumdo instead of Kumarasumdo. Next day the weather cleared up and we easily covered up the hour and a half we lost the previous day. The weather got cold after Tshokar lake and got light dusting of snow on some nights. Overall the weather for LST 2017 was really good and I think we run this trip at the optimal time of year.”

As mentioned in previous year’s Trip Reports we have carefully selected the time of year to run this trek, by starting in late August into September much of the snow in the mountains has already melted over the summer so river levels should be lower at this time of year. As Almas explains above this trek is in the shoulder season so expect the weather to cool off during the trek as the conditions become more Autumnal towards the end of the trip.

Photo: peaks around Tso Moriri lake
As the weather and conditions were favourable the group made good progress and followed the itinerary as planned. The group arrived to end of the trek at Tsomoriri lake on September 9th and then on 10th drove back to Leh. As with all of TMC western led treks we track their progress while in the field through SPOT gps check ins, you can see the map of this trek on SPOT Adventure website

We have made one change on the kit list for our 2018 Ladakh Sky Trail GHT based on feedback from this group and from Almas. In previous years we recommended fully enclosed sandals for the river crossings however this year Almas used a water shoe called Merrell Waterpro Maipo and this provided more protection during the three days walking in the gorge. I have copied Almas's comments below:

"I have tried several styles of shoes for river crossing shoes over the last three LSTs - I feel water shoes without any Velcro work the best - laces are more efficient than Velcro which gets clogged with sediment and stops working. The mesh foot coverage prevents small pebbles getting in and also they were comfortable to walk in between river crossings. We should update the kit list to include water shoes as there are more than 130 river crossings over three days and a lot walking in between. Also can double for camp / travel shoes"

Photo: peaks around Tso Moriri lake

The Mountain Company has a pledge through AITO Project Protect for our groups to collect at least 120kg of rubbish/ trash in the Himalaya and Karakoram during 2017. Our 2017 Ladakh Sky Trail GHT has collected 10kg of rubbish from the trails and around campsites and this is more than our target of 4kg per group so well done to Almas, crew and group!

Photo; photo of rubbish collected on LST 2017

As ever I would like to thanks Almas and the very hardworking Ladakhi team for doing a great job on another successful Ladakh Sky Trail GHT. Almas will be back in Ladakh again next summer leading our 2018 Ladakh Sky Trail and this trek is now already guaranteed to run.

Please get in touch soon if you are interested in joining our Ladakh Sky Trail GHT or if you have any questions on this trek.

Roland Hunter

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Trip report for K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro in Pakistan during July/ August 2017

Photo: K2, second highest mountain in the world, in Pakistan
Like in 2016, this year we also decided to run two treks to K2 Base Camp in Pakistan at the same time: our K2 Base Camp & Concordia and our K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La. The plan was for both groups to walk together to K2 Base Camp then one group would return back down Baltoro and the second group from Concordia would follow Vigne glacier and ascend over the Gondogoro La pass to Hushe village. After the trek both groups were scheduled to meet back up again in Skardu then travel together back to Islamabad. These K2 Base Camp treks were led by Chris Horobin and supported by Pakistan guides Zahid and Manzoor.

In 2017 we started our K2 Base Camp treks 10 days earlier than in 2016 as we felt the weather tends to be better in July given the poor conditions experienced by our 2016 group. Clearly the weather in Karakoram varies year to year however our 2017 K2 Base Camp groups were lucky to experience excellent weather with fine views of the mountains and good conditions for crossing Gondogoro la high pass. Chris summarised the weather in his post trip report as follows “Excellent, hot, generally sunny (a couple of overcast days), no rain. Could not have been better really.”

Our K2 Base Camp groups arrived to Islamabad on July 22nd and took the Pakistan International Airways ("PIA") flight as scheduled to Skardu on 23rd. In the past the PIA flight to Skardu has been unreliable and if cancelled then the group has to undertake a two day bus drive along the Karakoram Highway (“KKH”). However as mentioned in our trip report for 2016 K2 Base Camp treks the flight to Skardu has become more reliable over last few years as there are more planes flying the route from Islamabad to Skardu so the chances of having to drive KKH are reduced (although of course still possible).

Photo: Gilkey memorial near K2 Base Camp
The other advantage of flying to Skardu rather than driving KKH is that the group has two nights at the hotel in Skardu before the drive to Askole where the trek starts from. This means the group had the day of July 24th to relax and explore Skardu town, this also gives time for our leaders to do last minute checks and organisation before heading off.

For 2017 we made changes with the hotels used for our K2 Base Camp treks, in Islamabad we now use Hotel Hillview as this is higher standard than Chancery Guesthouse used in previous years. In Skardu we have been using K2 Motel for many years in fact since my first visit to Pakistan in 2005 when I organised an expedition to climb Broad Peak. Over the last few years we received some poor feedback on K2 Motel and so for 2017 we switched to Concordia Motel. The feedback from the group on both Hotel Hillview and Concordia Motel has so far been positive so we plan to use again for 2018 treks.

On July 25th the group drove in local jeeps along the rough and exposed jeep track to the roadhead at the village of Askole. On July 26th they started their trek following the fast flowing Braldu river. We have carefully designed our K2 Base Camp itinerary for gradual acclimatisation and unlike most other companies we decide not have two nights in Paiju (3,383m) as this is too low to benefit from acclimatisation. Instead we continue onto Urdukas camp (4,130m) where we have two nights as this more beneficial at this altitude and also the views from this camp over to Trango Towers are spectacular!

Photo: Choire's tent with view of K2 (credit: Choire Horobin)
At The Mountain Company we have a procedure where we carefully vet and screen all applications to ensure the trip is an appropriate objective for that person and we are especially careful for treks in Pakistan. There are a number of factors that make treks in Pakistan more challenging than in other Himalayan trekking destinations such as Nepal or Bhutan including the very hot weather conditions, a very rough jeep ride along an exposed track between Skardu and Askole, rugged trails along loose & rocky moraine while on Baltoro glacier, the risk of rockfall and landslides, no villages with facilities after Askole and river crossings as often there are no bridges etc etc.

The other consideration is the difficulty of getting helicopters for medical evacuation. It is worth pointing out that unlike Nepal there are no commercial helicopter operators in Pakistan instead we have to rely on the use of army helicopters. Many people have got used in Nepal to having quick and efficient evacuations by helicopter. Whereas in Pakistan for serious medical situations it is possible to arrange helicopter evacuations however this process takes longer, it is not straightforward and also depends on availability of helicopters. For example if helicopters are busy on training exercises or other military commitments then it may take longer to arrange and the protocol in Pakistan is for helicopters to always fly in pairs. Therefore if this is a non urgent medical evacuation the most likely mode of extraction is by horse and this is not a very comfortable ride!

Our leader Chris comments on his group’s experience for K2 Base Camp trek as follows:

“Overall I would sum it up by advising that of this group most thoroughly “enjoyed” it but thought it was the hardest thing they had ever done. K2 Base Camp remains a very challenging expedition and whilst no one advised that they had been ill advised prior to the expedition it is important that the Mountain Company keep its vigorous vetting procedure as to previous experience and fitness levels required. It is a mix of heat, difficult terrain, dirt and dust, altitude that wears people down and this should not be underestimated. Whilst the Gondogoro La section of the trip has now been equipped with new ropes the decent is still dangerous, steep and loose and requires a mix of rope skills to be safely undertaken.”

Photo: climbing up Gondogoro La
On August 3rd the group successfully walked up to K2 Base Camp and Gilkey memorial then after sleeping a night at Broad Peak Base Camp on evening of 3rd they awoke to glorious views of the majestic K2 mountain. After breakfast the group walked back down to Concordia and after group discussions the decision was made by Chris for the Gondogoro La group to head to Ali Camp towards the pass. As planned on August these two groups split with Chris and Zahid leading their group over Gondogoro La and Manzoor leading the K2 Base Camp group back down the Baltoro glacier to Askole.

Well done to both groups for achieving their objectives with the Gondogoro La group successfully crossing this technical high pass 5,500m+ and for K2 Base Camp group for walking up to Gilkey memorial and to the Base Camp for second highest mountain in the world. Both of our K2 Base Camp groups arrived safely back to Skardu on August 10th and then flew back to Islamabad on 11th.

It is important that people who sign up for K2 Base Camp trek understand the risks involved and are prepared and ready to accept these uncertainties. For many people who have successfully trekked to Everest Base Camp in Nepal they will find K2 Base Camp a far more challenging objective. Having said this the feedback from the seven K2 Base Camp groups organised by The Mountain Company since 2008 has been very positive. I think this trek is rightly included in Lonely Planet's article The 10 Best Treks in the World.

The mountain scenery on K2 Base Camp trek has no doubt some of the best views anywhere in the world with a series of impressive mountains getting progressively larger as one ascends Baltoro and Godwin Austen glaciers towards K2 Base Camp. The crossing of Gondogoro La is a classic high pass with views of Leila Peak from the top and a challenging ascent down loose scree to the lovely grassy camp at Khuspang. The advantage of crossing Gondogoro La pass is that this completes a circuit trek and once over the pass you walk down a new valley to Hushe village.

We used SPOT gps tracker for this group, for each night on trek Chris checked in sending a gps signal to us so we could track this group's progress ---> K2 Base Camp GPS map

Thanks very much to Chris, Zahid and Manzoor plus the rest of the Pakistan team for their hard work in leading this trek.

The Mountain Company is promoting both our K2 Base Camp & Concordia and K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La for July 2018.

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions on K2 Base Camp trek and if you would like to discuss your suitability or additional training required to join this trek in the future.

Roland Hunter

Monday, 26 June 2017

The Mountain Company pledge for AITO Project PROTECT

Earlier this year Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) launched Project PROTECT in recognition of the important role that destinations play in the future of the travel industry. The aim of this project is to encourage sustainable tourism and to nurture the destinations for tomorrow's travellers. The PROTECT acronym stands for People / Resources / Outreach / Tourism / Environment / Conservation / Tomorrow.

This project is led by Professor Xavier Font of the University of Surrey and each AITO member has to publish an annual pledge and report back at the end of the year on how they got along. For more information take a look at ----> AITO Press release

The Mountain Company pledge is as follows: Collecting at least 120kg of rubbish/ trash in the Himalaya and Karakoram during 2017

"Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints.” This is part of the Leave No Trace philosophy encouraging people to minimise their environmental impact when exploring the great outdoors. At The Mountain Company we want to go further by picking up rubbish/ trash found along the trekking trails and around the campsites. We have received client feedback that rubbish is a big problem and this unsightly mess has detracted from their holiday experience. By picking up litter this activity will make the environment cleaner and will help to maintain the natural beauty of the Himalaya and Karakoram mountains.

In 2017, we will ask each of our groups to pick up at least four sacks of rubbish during their Himalayan trek. Each sack will weigh approximately 1kg so each group will have a target of 4kg of rubbish to collect. During 2017 our thirty groups travelling to Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and India will therefore pick up a total of at least 120kg of litter.

Our guides and trekkers will work together to collect rubbish and this will develop camaderie and teamwork. The group will feel good about helping to make a difference. Our groups will talk to others to explain what they are doing aiming to inspire more trekkers to pick up rubbish too. By working together with our customers The Mountain Company wants to improve the environment of our destinations to help more people to enjoy these places in the future.

Photo: Pasang Sherpa collecting rubbish in Everest region
We will be in touch with our clients in due course to explain how we plan to go about meeting our pledge and how they can help if they would like to do so. 

Roland Hunter

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Trip report for Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT (Nepal) in May 2017 led by Jo Clark (UK) and Chandra Rai (Nepal)

Photo: crossing Sangda La pass (5,100m) into Kali Gandaki
In May 2017 we organised our fourth successful Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT trek along The Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal. This year we had twelve trekkers in the group and there was a mix of nationalities with people coming from Australia, UK, Germany, Denmark and Canada. This group was led by Jo Clark (UK), Chandra Rai (Nepal) and Bishwo Rai (Nepal).

Photo: our Upper Dolpo May 2017 group (credit: Paul Carroll)
To find out how our previous Upper Dolpo treks got along please take a look at Trip Reports for Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT

Like in previous years, at the start of the trek we chartered a Twin Otter plane from Tara Air for the flight from Pokhara to Juphal rather than flying in from Nepalganj further to the west of Nepal. Luckily this group's flights operated on time and landed safely at Juphal STOL airstrip on May 8th and then walked to Dunai for the first night's camping. It is worth pointing out that Juphal STOL was a grass airstrip however currently (i.e June 2017) is having construction work to black top the runway and this should help improve the reliability & safety of operations at this airstrip in the future.

As a result of the improvements at Juphal airstrip and better hotels now available in Nepalganj such as Hotel Siddhartha (and Soaltee Western Premium opening in September 2017) we plan to fly via Nepalganj for our Dolpo treks in 2018. There are also more planes available in Nepalganj including L410 turbo prop aircraft, these are more powerful with higher carrying capacity of passengers. If we are able to use these planes in the future the key advantage for us is that we can also fly in some cargo including more fresh vegetables. The other consideration is the cost of a private charter plane from Pokhara to Juphal, this is very expensive and increased in 2018 by 10% to US$5,500.

It is worth pointing out that we introduced a new innovation in 2017 by bringing dehydrated vegetables for provisions on all of our camping treks in Nepal. There is a lack of fresh of vegetables to purchase locally in Upper Dolpo region especially during the Spring season and also for this itinerary we are unable to provide a food resupply during the trek. Therefore the only way to provide vegetables throughout the trek is by dehydrating beforehand in Kathmandu. In March 2017 we transported a US made vegetable dehydrator machine and vacuum sealer over to Kathmandu. After training our local office in Kathmandu on these methods we are now producing large quantities of carrots, beans, broccoli, courgette (zucchini), onions, mushrooms pumpkin etc to supply our camping treks.

Using dehydrated vegetables worked very well for our Upper Dolpo 2017 trek and we receive excellent feedback from the group on the quality of the food throughout this trek. The method of dehydrating food is also environmentally friendly as we do not need to bring canned vegetables. As far as we know The Mountain Company is the only operator in Nepal with our own production line for dehydrating vegetables. We are planning to roll this out to our office in Bhutan in July 2017 for the Autumn trekking season.

Photo: vegetable dehydrator machine with vacuum sealer
Our Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT group followed a trail near the Suli Gad River for the next three days flowing down from Phoksumdo Lake. On May 11th the group walked through Ringmo village and onto their campsite on the shores of the stunningly beautiful Phoksumdo Lake.

Photo: Phoksumdo Lake
On May 13th the group followed the western side of Phoksumdo Lake along a narrow cliff trail, this is the ‘Devil’s trail’ followed by Thinle in Eric Valli’s film “Himalaya”. The narrow path ascends to a ridge with spectacular views over the turquoise lake to Ringmo village and the peaks of Kanjiroba (6,612m), Norbung Kang (6,085) and Jhyarko Dingla (5,892m). From Phoksumdo Lake North Camp the group starts making the ascent to the first high pass of the trek called Kang La.

There is a lot of wildlife and birds in Upper Dolpo, in previous years our groups were very lucky and saw the elusive snow leopard on several occasions. This year they saw the scat of large cat and this was most likely from a snow leopard. Many herds of blue sheep were seen as these animals are their favourite prey this indicates there is sufficient food to maintain a healthy population of snow leopards in Upper Dolpo.

Photo: blue sheep in Upper Dolpo (credit: Neil Piercy)
Of interest this year was the Tibetan wolf seen on top of a ridge while the group were having lunch by a river after Shey----> for more information on Tibetan wolf have a look at Wikipedia page. Other animals seen include stone marten, marmots (lots!), foxes and a jackal.

Photo: Tibetan wolf in Upper Dolpo (credit: Paul Carroll)
We had some keen birders in our Upper Dolpo group this year and the list of birds seen is as follows: Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffin, hill pigeon, Yellow Billed Chough, Common Redstart, Tree Sparrow, Long Tailed Shrike, White Winged Grosbeak, Plumbeous Water Redstart, Orange Flanked Bush Robin, Robin Accentor and Cattle Egret.

Photo: White Winged Grosbeak (credit: Paul Carroll)
The weather in Nepal throughout this Spring season has been rather unstable with large amounts of precipitation due to a low pressure system impacting the Nepal Himalaya. Luckily our Dhaulagiri Circuit in April were in the early stages of their trek during the heaviest precipitation. As described in our Trip Report for our April 2017 Dhaulagiri Circuit group there was more snow than usual on the French and Dhampus Passes however this group was able to successfully make the full traverse to Jomsom. Therefore I was quite confident that our Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT group would be able to cross the passes however we were expecting to encounter more snow than in previous years.

On May 14th our Upper Dolpo group walked up to Lar Tsa camp however on the next day they were unable to continue onto Snowfield’s Camp due to large amounts of snow on the trail. Luckily our guides have deep experience and knowledge of the Upper Dolpo region and knew about another pass we call “Pass B” known as Nando La that due to its aspect and topography tends to retain less snow than Kang La. Therefore the group descended back towards Phoksumdo Lake and followed a different valley to a high camp then successfully crossed the Nando La pass over to Shey on May 17th. On May 18th the group and crew had a well-deserved rest day exploring Shey and visiting the Bonpo monastery down the valley.

Photo: view from Nando La (credit: Neil Piercy)

Photo: lama at Shey gompa (credit: Neil Piercy)
Throughout the trek as this group traversed east through Upper Dolpo region there was very little snow and no issues were encountered on crossing the rest of the high passes. The highest pass Sangda La at 5,100m is known as the crux for groups doing this trek in Autumn season as this is the exit pass out to the Kali Gandaki valley. Sangda La can be snowy and icey however by the time our group arrived crossed on May 29th there was no snow on the summit of the pass so our group was able walked out Jomsom arriving as planned on June 1st.

Photo: crossing Saldang La

Photo: view from Muri La
The group flew out of Jomsom on June 2nd and after a second breakfast at one of the restaurants in Pokhara Lakeside they flew onwards to Kathmandu in early afternoon. That evening I heard everyone in the group enjoyed a meal at K Too steakhouse to celebrate completing this epic journey through one of the most remote regions of the Nepal Himalaya.

Overall this group had fine weather and only two or three days afternoons with cloud and trace precipitation. Throughout this expedition we received weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at and we sent these onto Jo on the satellite phone. Having professional weather forecasts is essential for safety in crossing high passes and for our leaders to make decisions in the field.

We used a GPS spot tracker for this group and for each night on trek Jo checked in sending a gps signal to us so we could track this group's progress ----> click here to see GPS map for our 2017 Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT

Congratulations and well done to this group for making the full traverse from Juphal to Jomsom along a section of The Great Himalaya. I would like to say a big thanks to Jo, Chandra, Bishwo and the rest of the crew for their hard work leading this trek.

We have received positive feedback from this group and please see AITO website for the reviews. I have copied Neil's feedback below:

"I have regularly trekked with The Mountain Company, the itineraries are very well planned, the treks are extremely well led both with Western Leadership and local Sirdar and Guides. This trek in particular there was an excellent relationship and engagement between all the crew and trekkers. It's great to see that as much care is taken regarding the health and well being of the crew on the trek as the clients. The trek leaders have access to high quality weather forecasts and satellite communication. Very well managed trek.

This was an amazing trek in the remote region of Upper Dolpo, trekking through an area strongly influenced with Tibetan culture. The scenery is spectacular trekking through beautiful gorges - never far from a pounding river, staying alongside wonderful villages e.g. Ringmo, Shey and Tinje and spending time alongside side the turquoise blue lake of Phoksumdo.  There is challenge too ... regularly crossing spectacular passes with mountain vistas. The schedule is well planned with additional days to acclimatise, plenty of good food to provide us with the energy to complete the trek and enjoy the area." Neil, Upper Dolpo May 2018

Due to high demand for our Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT trek we have decided to organise two departures in 2018, first one will be in May/ June and second one in October. We already have enough people interested to guarantee to run our May departure and there is strong interest in October one too. I suggest you get in touch to register your interest soon if you are considering one of these treks in 2018.

Roland Hunter

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Trip report for Dhaulagiri Circuit led by Ade Summers and Chandra Rai in April 2017

Photo: crossing French Pass with Mt Dhaulagiri behind
In April we organised our 14th group trek around Dhaulagiri Circuit. Our leaders were Ade Summers (UK & Australia) and Chandra Rai (Nepal) and the Sherpa guides supporting the group were Mhin and Bhim. We had six people in this group and like in previous years this group was an international mix with people coming from Switzerland, USA and UK.

The group arrived to Kathmandu on April 16th and we organised the group briefing for late afternoon. We made one change with our Dhaulagiri Circuit itinerary compared to previous years  as we have extended by one day so the trip is now 21 days from arrival to Kathmandu. In previous years on Day 2 we flew from Kathmandu to Pokhara, drove to Beni and then trekked to first night's camp at Babuchur. This was too long especially if there were any delays in flying to Pokhara and quite often the group would arrive to Babuchur after dark therefore we now include one night in Pokhara before starting the trek. The feedback from the leaders and the group has been positive with this change in itinerary so we will keep this in place for our future Dhaulagiri Circuit groups.

The trek went well and the group arrived to Italian Base Camp as planned on April 24th. On April 30th the group crossed French Col into Hidden Valley. However the weather throughout the trek was quite rainy and there was deep snow higher up making the days crossing French and Dhampus passes more challenging for the group and crew. The weather this Spring throughout Nepal has been unsettled with more precipitation than in previous years. On May 2nd the group crossed Dhampus Pass with superb views of Annapurna South and Nilgiris and made good progress to camp at Alu Bari for the night.

Throughout this expedition we received weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at and we sent these onto Ade by text to his satellite phone. Having professional weather forecasts is essential for safety in crossing high passes and for decision making in the field.

We have carefully designed our Dhaulagiri Circuit for acclimatisation and our groups have two nights at Italian Base Camp at 3,660m followed by two nights at Glacier Camp at 4,200m then a further two nights at Dhaulagiri Base Camp at 4,700m. Only with this ascent profile will you have enough time for your body to adapt to the high altitude for safe crossing of the high passes and for sleeping in Hidden Valley at 5,050m.

As with all of TMC camping treks we track their progress while in the field through SPOT gps check ins, you can see the map of this trek in SPOT Adventure website

Congratulations to the group for completing Dhaulagiri Circuit. I would like thank Ade and Chandra plus the rest of the team for their help and hard work.

The feedback from the group has been very positive and everyone had a good time. I have copied several member’s feedback from website below:

"I had an excellent experience with The Mountain Company---Top Notch" Melvin

"The Mountain Company organised everything to a tee. We never had to worry about anything as everything was taken care of giving us the time and space to enjoy Nepal."  Mat

"The whole trip was well planned,organised and executed by The Mountain Company. The Mountain Company works to very high standards and achieves them, whilst being sensitive to the fragile environment in which it operates and respectful of the local peoples. From the off, the level of communication and personal advice offered is detailed, considered and personally tailored. Very impressive personal service. It is pleasing that customer feedback is listened to, then, where appropriate, put into action to enhance the next treks experiences. Well done and I hope to trek with you again in the near future." Paula

The Mountain Company organises Dhaulagiri Circuit trek and Dhampus Peak expedition twice a year in April and October. Our Dhaulagiri Circuit group in October 2017 is now guaranteed to run so please get in touch soon if you like to join this group.

Trek on!

Roland Hunter

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Mountain Company 16 point difference | Why you should choose us to organise your holiday in the Himalaya or Karakoram in 2017

The Mountain Company is an award winning operator

With so many rival trekking operators out there to choose from, it is worth highlighting the main reasons why we think you should choose us to organise your holiday in the Himalaya or Karakoram in 2017.  The Mountain Company 16 point difference is as follows:

1. The Mountain Company (TMC) is an independently owned niche operator with a strong track record and deep experience of our destinations, whilst still being small enough to offer a good old fashioned friendly and personal service. The Mountain Company is proud to be a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators (“AITO”).

2. TMC is an ATOL licenced operator located in the UK. We are fully insured with combined public and product liability up to GBP5 million and hold professional indemnity insurance up to GBP1 million.

3. We provide comprehensive pre trip information to help you prepare for your holiday. This advice will come from our team who has first-hand knowledge and experience of the trip you are interested in joining.

4. We organise treks to Everest and Annapurna regions of Nepal, however we also enjoy organising treks to the most remote regions of the Himalaya. Many of these, such as Upper Dolpo to JomsomMakalu to Everest over Sherpani Pass and West ColLadakh Sky TrailRodung La with Merak and Sakten and Lunana Snowman, are along The Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) where you are unlikely to see many other trekking groups.

5. Through our online pre-trip application, we carefully screen everyone applying to join our groups. By asking about your outdoor experience, fitness level and medical conditions we hope to ensure you have an enjoyable and successful trip suited to your ambitions and capabilities.

6. Our treks are tried and tested and since TMC was set up in 2004 our groups have had excellent success rates of completing their objectives, such as reaching Everest Base Camp or crossing high passes on the classic camping treks like Dhaulagiri Circuit and Kanchenjunga Circuit. We have 100% success rate in organising the full Lunana Snowman trek in Bhutan traversing from Paro to Bumthang.

7. Our trek itineraries are designed for gradual ascent to allow time for your body to naturally adapt to the high altitude. We never compromise on the number of days within our itineraries in order to sell more holidays!

8. Our trips are organised with a high guide to trekker ratio to allow for a range of walking speeds within a group and also, for contingency planning in case a trekker has to turn back due to sickness or other reasons. In Nepal we provide one guide for a group size of two people, two guides for a group size of three people, and three guides for a group of more than six people.

9. We send a Thuraya satellite phone on all of our treks in Nepal, Pakistan and Bhutan. We also send a SPOT GPS tracker on camping treks. It is critical for group safety, risk management and contingency planning in an emergency situation, to know the location of and to have reliable communications with our trekking groups in the field.

10. We monitor the weather forecasts throughout the season by getting bespoke weather forecasts from Having forecasts is important for safety before crossing a high pass or climbing to a summit such as Mera Peak or Dhampus Peak.

11. We work with some of the best mountain leaders and guides in the business, with deep knowledge and experience of the Himalaya and Karakoram. Unlike many other operators we still allocate appropriately trained international leaders for more remote and technical trips. Find out more about TMC leaders here

12. Within our detailed Trip Dossiers (downloadable from our website), we clearly define what is included in our packages so that you know exactly what to budget for. We go further to provide more within our packages. For example, our lodge based treks in Nepal include breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and biscuits plus two course dinner (soup and main meal) plus up to two cups of hot drinks per meal.

13. We have invested in high quality group equipment to support our camping groups in Nepal, such as Mountain Hardwear Trango 3.1 tents. On our camping trips we also provide portable high altitude chambers (known as PAC bags) for the emergency treatment of high altitude illnesses.

14. Given the current uncertain economic climate, you are assured that your money paid to us for your holiday is financially secure. Our UK clients will be issued an ATOL certificate backed by the British government. Our international clients will be covered by our financial protection with Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT).

15. We love what we do and are passionate about organising trips to the Himalaya and Karakoram! We focus on a small number of countries to ensure that we are the specialists for holidays in Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan and Burma (Myanmar).

16. TMC head office is based in London, however Roland, our Managing Director, spends up to five months each year based in our destination countries. During 2016, Roland was in Kathmandu, Nepal supporting our groups for two months in Spring and two months in Autumn. He then travelled around Burma for a month in November inspecting tourist destinations and hotels there. Read more about our bespoke trips to Burma here.

Lastly, do not just take our word for it but please have a look at what our clients say about us on the AITO review website. TMC won the bronze award for AITO Tour Operator of the Year in 2015 based on receiving excellent customer feedback.

Please get in touch with us if you would like to find out more about The Mountain Company difference.

Roland Hunter

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Trip report for Kanchenjunga Circuit trek led by Almas Khan and Jhire Rai in November 2016

Photo: northside of Mt Kanchenjunga
In November, we organised Kanchenjunga Circuit trek in eastern Nepal and this was our second departure in 2016 -----> please click here to read our Trip Report for Kanchenjunga Circuit in April. Our November trek was led by Almas Khan and this was his third time leading this classic trek around the world’s third highest mountain. The Nepali sirdar for this group was Jhire Rai who knows Kanchenjunga region very well having completed this trek twelve times before!

Almas has had another busy year leading four treks for The Mountain Company; in April he led a group on Dhaulagiri Circuit; in August/ September he led Ladakh Sky Trail GHT; in September/ October to Bhutan for his seventh Lunana Snowman trek and then back to Nepal for Kanchenjunga Circuit. It looks like Almas will be busy again in 2017 with Rodung La with Merak & Sakten in Bhutan during April then Ladakh Sky Trail GHT; Lunana Snowman trek in September/ October and Kanchenjunga Circuit in November.

For our November 2016 Kanchenjunga Circuit group we had eight trekkers coming from Canada, Switzerland, Ireland Zealand and USA. The first day of the trip was November 1st and next morning Almas gave his trek briefing on the roof top restaurant at Hotel Tibet and I also attended. On November 3rd the group flew to Bhadrapur in east of Nepal and in afternoon drove up to Ilam for the night.

During the trek this group stuck to the scheduled itinerary walking up as planned to Pangpema at Kanchenjunga northside Base Camp on November 14th and then returned to Ghunsa on the next day. The group head up to High Camp before Mirgin La on 15th then successfully crossed over Mirgin La on 16th arriving to Tseram village in late afternoon.

The weather for this group was sunny throughout the trek and this is the normal pattern in Nepalese Himalaya where high pressure system tends to dominate after the monsoon has worked its way out. As discussed in Trip Report for our Dhaulagiri Circuit trek in October the monsoon finished late this year in mid October so having our Kanchenjunga Circuit in November works well in terms of weather and conditions. This group had sensational views of the north and southside of Mount Kanchenjunga as well wonderful vistas on crossing the high pass Mirgin La.

Throughout the course of Kanchenjunga Circuit trek we received bespoke weather forecasts from Michael Fagin at and this information was sent through to Almas on his satellite phone for days before approaching Kanchenjunga northside Base Camp and before crossing the Mirgin La. Having professional weather forecasts is essential for safety in crossing high passes and for decision making in the field.

I heard reports from another group trekking Kanchenjunga Circuit in October that the trail to Ghunsa had been damaged during the monsoons with a number of new landslides however in practice by November with the dryer weather these areas were fine with no active rocks falling. Almas mentioned also that one bridge had been swept away during the monsoon however the older bridge nearby survived so the group easily crossed over.

Over the years we have modified our itinerary for Kanchenjunga Circuit based on feedback from previous groups. We have carefully designed the day by day itinerary in order to allow time for acclimatisation to the high altitude and to maximise the chances of group successfully completing the trek. Almas confirmed in his debrief that our itinerary worked well and no further changes were required. As with all of TMC western led treks we track their progress while in the field through SPOT gps check ins, you can see the map of this trek and follow their route on SPOT Adventure website

Thanks very much to Almas, Jhire, and Sangram and the rest of the team for their hard work leading and organising this trek.

The Mountain Company is promoting Kanchenjunga Circuit trek for April and November 2017. Our April departure is nearly guaranteed to run so please get in touch soon if you like to join this group.

Roland Hunter

The Mountain Company