Monday, February 1, 2016

On road to Mt. Everest

Everest base camp, as seen from Kala Pattar. PHOTOS BY AUTHOR
Ever since George Mallory’s expeditions in the early 1920s and Edmund Hillary-Tensing Norgay’s successful summit in 1953, Mount Everest has captivated thousands of passionate mountaineers. While climbing Everest still remains an impossible dream for most, trekking to the Everest base camp has become an achievable goal.

Everest base cEver since George Mallory’s expeditions in the early 1920s and Edmund Hillary-Tensing Norgay’s successful summit in 1953, Mount Everest has captivated thousands of passionate mountaineers. While climbing Everest still remains an impossible dream for most, trekking to the Everest base camp has become an achievable goal. amp (EBC) trek is a feat that involves 10 days of arduous journey on foot, covering a distance of about 60 km one way, starting at 9,350 ft and reaching an impressive altitude of 17,598 ft.

We set off with high spirits from Bengaluru and our first halt was at Thamel, a popular and colourful tourist hub with its narrow alleys bustling with mountaineers, trekkers buying and renting gears for their expeditions.

Trek to EBC technically starts from Lukla, a small town in the Khumbu region. Flight from Katmandu to Lukla takes about 40 mins before the highly-skilled pilot lands the small aircraft on one of the most dangerous runways in the world, a small single landing strip that ends at a cliff with a fall of 9,300 ft !

Alpine efforts
The way up from Lukla to Everest base camp trails through the gorge of turquoise Dudh Kosi, a glacial runoff that originates from the high altitudes of Everest, surrounded by lush green Rhododendron forests giving way to more alpine land as we go higher.

Further, the path traverses through glacial moraines and the foothills of snow-clad peaks, offering spellbinding views all along the route, making it the grandest walk in the Himalayan region.

We spent the first night in Phakding, a small settlement. Heading up the picturesque trail next morning, we walked past several other trekkers, porters and yaks carrying supplies to the settlements higher up in the region. We crossed Dudh Kosi over a high-raised suspension bridge, famously called the Hillary Bridge, beyond which the path is a steep ascent, and finally a lengthy flight of stairs leads us to the capital of Sherpas, a market hub — Namche Bazaar — at 11,290 ft.

Having missed the first view of Mt Everest enroute to Namche the previous day due to cloudy weather, we anxiously walked up to the view point first thing in the morning, and there it was! The most eagerly-awaited moment — first glimpse of Mt Everest, peeking from behind the formidable 27,940 ft Lothse, the fourth highest peak in the world.

However, the best view of Mt Everest on this route is from top of Kala Pattar, which is at an elevation of 18,200 ft. On the other hand, it was love at first glimpse of Ama Dablam, a popular peak in Everest region, which is by far the most beautiful one and dominates the eastern sky throughout the trek to EBC.

With our body slowly getting used to the altitude the following day, we set out to the serene settlement of Thengboche. Cloudy evening masked the panoramic view of mountains that surround the largest Bhuddhist monastery in Kumbhu at 12,700 ft. As night fell, we retired to our room in the tea house with hot water bottles to keep us warm inside the sleeping bag.

The next four days we pass through the settlements of Pangboche, Dingboche and Lobuche, gaining altitude as we walk through the mountainous terrain, soaking in the changing landscapes. On the way there are memorials of several climbers who lost their lives in various Everest expeditions. Tired and exhausted due to thin air at higher altitudes, we pushed ourselves slowly and steadily towards Gorak Shep at 16,942 ft, just before the EBC. There is a sense of achievement at the end of each day when you lie down shivering in the tea houses reminiscing the adventurous journey.

Most tea houses have a common dining hall and small rooms with plywood walls offering little protection from cold temperatures at night. Though rudimentary, these tea houses offer good food topped with the warmth of Nepali households. We spent the evenings huddled around a heated fireplace in the common area playing card games while getting to know people from different parts of the globe.

Our guide, also a sherpa and a commendable three-time Everest summiteer, gave us a glimpse into the sherpa culture. Sherpas are a friendly and hard-working community without whom the whole mountaineering adventure in the Everest region would be a tough ordeal.

Gorak Shep to EBC is a two to three hour trek on a hilly terrain next to the vast glacial moraine. Most trekkers also go up to Kala Pattar, which resembles a big black dune situated close to Gorak Shep. Kala Pattar is the highest point one can reach without a climbing permit.

Standing at the Everest base camp at an incredible altitude of 17,598 ft in the looming presence of Mt Everest, the feeling is nothing short of euphoria! I wondered what it takes to get to the top of the world and my admiration for the more daring climbers only deepened. I found myself marvelling at the panorama of mountains in complete silence, forgetting for a while how exhausted I was or how desperately I had earlier wanted to get back to civilisation. As you turn around to start the descent, you are filled with a personal sense of achievement, but bear in mind you have only completed half the journey. It is another four to five days of descent to Lukla from where you fly back to the comforts of Katmandu hotel, and then it’s party time!

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Have You Watched These 5 Movies on Mt. Everest?

- Post Report, Kathmandu
Oct 2, 2015- The movie ‘Everest’,  based on the real events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, was released theatrically on September 18 and a week later in Nepal.

But this is not the first movie about the world's most popular mountain. There have been many.
We give you a list of five, with  the highest ratings.

Everest, 1998
Forty-five minute long American documentary film “Everest” revolves around mountaineers and difficulties they face during their journey to Mount Everest.  The film is narrated by actor Liam Neeson. The movie also stars Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of mountaineer Tenzing Norgay.
Rotten Tomatoes has given it a rating of 93%.

The Conquest of Everest, 1953
This British documentary film is about the conquest of Mount Everest by Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary. The film also won a nomination for the ‘Best Documentary Feature’ category in the Oscars.

IMDB has rated it with a score of 7.1/10 and Rotten Tomatoes has given it a rating of 100%.

Blindsight, 2006
This documentary film captures the journey of six blind Tibetan teenagers who take up the journey to Lhakpa Ri, a peak which stands on the north side of Mount Everest. Lucy Walker directorial ‘Blindsight’ won three awards including “Audience Award for Best film Berlin Film Festival Panorama” in the year 2007.  It has a score of 98% in Rotten Tomatoes and 7.4/10 in IMDb.

Into Thin Air: Death on Everest, 1997
Into Thin Air: Death on Everest is a movie that is based on a book called “Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster (1997) by Jon Krakauer's. This movie revolves around the 1996 Everest disaster as well.

The film is 1 hour 30 minutes long. IMDB has rated it with a score of 5.7/10.

Everest, 2015
A British adventure and disaster drama “Everest” tells the story of the 1996 Everest Disaster in which 8 people died during their expedition to Everest. The movie was shot in Iceland, Nepal and Italy. While one of the film crews was still shooting the film on April 18 2015, an avalanche struck on Everest claiming the lives of 16 Sherpa guides. However, the crew was safe.
The film stars Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly, Sam Worthington, Keira Knightly, Emily Watson, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
IMDb has rated it with a score of 7.4/10.

For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE 
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What One Man Learned About Success From Climbing Everest 7 Times

Adrian Ballinger headshot 
Adrian Ballinger
You might think Adrian Ballinger is a really lucky guy, considering he's survived countless avalanches and earthquakes on his voyages up some of the highest mountains in the world.

In the more than 15 years Ballinger has been mountain guiding, he's led more than 100 international climbing expeditions and summited Mount Everest seven times.

But much of his success actually comes down to a few key principles he's learned on his journeys.
Ballinger, who is also CEO of high-altitude expeditions company Alpenglow Expeditions, says these lessons about success can apply to just about anything, especially business:

Be wary of taking too many risks.

"When scaling a mountain peak, you'll find it's best to keep the risk taking to a minimum and take them only to avoid unexpected circumstances that might impact the ultimate success or safety of the climb," Ballinger says.

He explains that at 20,000 feet, living on the edge and act haphazardly aren't an option. Risks are only taken after careful calculation and if an impasse presents itself to the team's original plan.

This should be the same principle for business owners, Ballinger says. It's always best to stick with the original plan until it no longer works. "Don't let risk taking be a short cut to achieving the goal," he warns.

Commit to your risk.

Once you've made a decision that a specific course of action is worth the risk, Ballinger says you need to commit to it and not let anything sway your conviction.
Adrian Ballinger 
Adrian Ballinger

During the course of his career, Ballinger has experienced many life-threatening situations, including a deadly avalanche last year that killed roughly 16 Sherpas.

"These unexpected occurrences sapped my resources and left me emotionally drained. Sometimes I even began to question my original beliefs. But when I commit myself to the goal in the onset — I honor that commitment in the heat of battle. You should too, even when you're facing a blast of wind and there seems to no end in sight," Ballinger says.

Rely on your team

"At high altitudes, our individual bodies exhaust themselves both physically and mentally. This happens at different rates, sometimes even wiping out the most physically fit or most acclimated member of the group," Ballinger says.

"As that exhaustion sets in, it's the team, as a group entity, that keeps the individuals safe and moving forward. We consult and check with each other frequently, relying on those who have the strengths, this time, so see us through."

A company isn't all that different from an expedition team, Ballinger says. Sometimes one individual may have the strength or expertise that others don't. "Make sure you've chosen the right key players and instilled them with the confidence to lead and make decisions before you make any big moves," he says.

Slow and steady wins the race.

In business, closing the deal, making the numbers, or making the deadline may seem like the most important thing. Similarly, when climbing, many people mistakenly think the focus is always on reaching the summit. Ballinger says both assumptions are wrong.
adrian ballinger 
Adrian Ballinger

"Depending on conditions, just making the next five feet is the often prize," he explains. "And our ascent comes only after a succession of many small, but critical, successes."

"Be sure to plan your route to success, one milestone at a time. And avoid the temptation to race your way to the top or take shortcuts. Those are what can trip you up at your desk or on the plateau," Ballinger says.

Take plenty of reality checks.

In 2011 on Mt. Everest Ballinger's team had worked for weeks to establish themselves at 23,500 feet and was only two days from reaching the summit, but unexpected winds threatened to destroy their base camp and endanger the lives of climbers and sherpas.
"Our intuition told us that going further would be unreasonably dangerous and would risk the entire team," Ballinger says, explaining that the te acm decided to head back down the mountain to safer altitudes.
adrian ballinger and sherpa at top of mt everest 
Adrian Ballinger and sherpa guide at Mt. Everest.

"While no one was happy about the decision and there was much frustration, in the end, we made the right choice," Ballinger says.

"It's okay to back off and reassess current conditions against you goals, and sometimes, if conditions aren't right, it's better for the entire enterprise to pull back and live to do business another day."

For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE 
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Friday, September 4, 2015

Sooperfly Launches Mt. Everest Series on YouTube

It’s been four months since a powerful earthquake rocked Nepal, killing more than 9,000 people nation-wide, including 19 climbers at the Mount Everest base camp.

Now, two of the surviving climbers will share their stories of the disaster in a four-part original web series produced by Sooperfly, the digital video network launched earlier this year by Mumbai-based The 120 Media Collective .

Mission Everest 2015 launches on YouTube on Wednesday, Sept. 2, with subsequent episodes released every Thursday for the remainder of the month.

Executives with 120 Media have been promising original content creation since bringing Sooperfly to life in April in a joint partnership with U.K. channel management firm Diagonal View. In early August, Roopak Saluja, 120 Media’s CEO and founder, said original series and longer-form programming would be forthcoming in the wake of a one year strategic deal struck with global ad agency Cheil Worldwide. Saluja said most of the content will be in English and aimed at a younger demographic in India and around the world.

Mission Everest is intented to fit with that global strategy. It features Samir Patham and Saurai Jinghan, a pair of young mountaineers “who chose to help rather than flee in the wake of a crisis,” said Vishai Nongbet, Sooperfly’s senior vice-president and head of business, in a statement.
The series includes exclusive real-time footage of the April 25 disaster, which is the deadliest crisis ever to hit the climbing community. Sixty people were also injured at the Everest base camp.
Nongbet said the narrative is designed to appeal to a millennial audience “on a medium that is most accessed by them.”
Here is a preview:

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Mount McKinley's Alaska Name Denali Is Restored By Obama

Mount McKinley is shown in this handout photo provided by the National Park Service in Alaska 11 January 2011
After decades of controversy, the name of Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America, has been changed back to its original native Alaskan, Denali.
The 20,237ft (6,168m) peak was named by a gold prospector in 1896 after he heard that William McKinley had been nominated to become the US president.
US President Barack Obama announced the change ahead of a three-day visit to Alaska to highlight climate change.
But Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has denounced the move.
The new name Denali translates as High One or Great One and is used widely by locals.
"With our own sense of reverence for this place, we are officially renaming the mountain Denali in recognition of the traditions of Alaska Natives and the strong support of the people of Alaska," US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement announcing the change.
The statement went on to note that McKinley had never set foot in Alaska.
William McKinley, 25th President of the United States 01 January 1897
Image captionThe mountain was named in honour of William McKinley's nomination for president
Alaska has been attempting to change the name to Denali for decades. However, its attempts to change it at a federal level have been blocked by Ohio, William McKinley's home state.
Politicians there criticised the name change, with Mr Boehner - who represents Ohio's 8th congressional district - saying he was "deeply disappointed".
"There is a reason President McKinley's name has served atop the highest peak in North America for more than 100 years, and that is because it is a testament to his great legacy," Mr Boehner said.
Another Republican, the Ohio Senator Rob Portman urged President Obama to find another way to preserve McKinley's name in the national park where the peak is found.
But the Republican Senator for Alaska, Lisa Murkowski, who campaigned for the change, tweeted she was "honoured" to recognise the mountain as Denali.
McKinley was the 25th president of the United States. He was assassinated early in his second term in 1901.

Monday, July 6, 2015

An Incredible Tour of the World's Highest Peaks Via Google Maps Street View

by Megan Barber camp colera.jpg
Google Maps Street View of Camp Colera at 19,685 feet, on the way to summit Aconcagua
From Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, to Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest freestanding mountain in Africa, the world's highest peaks are stunning in their beauty. And while most of us use Google Maps to scope out a new coffee shop, the street view application lets you explore these awe-inspiring mountains without ever leaving the couch.
everest base camp.jpg
↑ Everest Base Camp: The Climbers Memorial is a sacred site located just above 14,000 feet, which honor the lives of fallen climbers on Mt. Everest.
everest base camp 2.jpg
↑ Most expeditions to the highest point on Earth are staged at Everest Base Camp, pictured here.
everest kala patthar.jpg
↑ The 18,192-foot Kala Patthar on Mount Everest.
namche bazaar.jpg
↑ Namche Bazaar is the gateway to the high Himalayas. The town is popular with adventurers in the Khubu region because it is at a good altitude for acclimitization and has a number of stores to outfit expeditions properly.
↑ The summit of Aconcagua in Argentina, the tallest mountain in the Western and Southern Hemispheres and the tallest point outside of the Himalayas.
aconcagua camp 2.jpg
↑ On the route to scaling Aconcagua, Camp 2 along the False Polish Glacier route is also Camp 3 for the Guanacos route.
mount elbrus.jpg
↑ Located in the Caucasus mountains, the snowy summit of Mount Elbrus towers over Europe and Russia.
disel hut .jpg
↑ Expeditions to the summit of Mount Elbrus can take shelter in Diesel Hut from the often hostile weather.
↑ At 19,341 ft, Uhuru is the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro.
arrow glacier.jpg
↑ Located at the base of the mountain, Arrow Glacier is the last campsite before summit day for trekkers attempting the treacherous Western Breach ascent route on the way to Mount Kilimanjaro.
lava tower.jpg
↑ Lava Tower is a large rock formation along the Lemosho and Machame routes. From the top of Lava Tower you can see spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Mount Everest base camp in Tibet to reopen July 1

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BEIJING The Mt Everest base camp in Tibet will be reopened to climbers on July 1, the tourism authorities said on Tuesday.

The base camp was closed for safety reasons following the 7.9-magnitude earthquake on April 25 that killed climbers and guides on Nepal's side of the mountain.

Roads leading to the base camp will be subjected to periodic traffic controls, a spokesperson with the tourism bureau said, according to Xinhua news agency. The base camp, located 5,200 metres above sea level, saw 59,100 visitors in 2014.

The earthquake killed over 9,000 people and injured more than 21,000.
For more information about the Summit Murder Mystery series, CLICK HERE 
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