View from the trail

‘Explore’ moves away from Crete this month  – some 6000 km in fact –  for a brief account and some photos of last November’s Paleochora Himalayan Expedition.  Our international team of ten consisted of Michelle, Andre, Klervi & Bernard (French), Karin (Swiss), Marianne & Josee (Dutch), and Jane, Lindsey & myself (English), all of us either living in or with a close connection to Paleochora.  We met up in Kathmandu, flying in from Athens, Paris and Amsterdam, via Istanbul and Delhi, then two days later traveled seven hours in our team “bus” to Arughat, on the worst roads I’ve ever seen, in places almost destroyed by monsoon rain, and the start of our 14-day trek.

The Intrepid Team

The Intrepid Team

The pattern for the next two weeks began with tea at 6am next morning, then breakfast, and we were usually walking before 8am.  For four days we would follow the valley of the Burhi Gandaki river, often high above it, gradually acclimatising and gaining height.  Then a steep ascent beside the tributary of the Shiar Khola into the almost hidden Tsum Valley, below the peaks of Ganesh Himal and Sringi Himal, over 7,000m high, and both, I later discovered, with only one ascent, in the mid-1950s.

The well-marked trail, narrow at times, and used by mules and later yaks, took us across steel suspension bridges and some precarious-looking wooden ones, through small Nepalese villages amid stunning scenery, and by late afternoon each day to our overnight campsite  – and welcome tea, followed by a substantial evening meal.

Careful ....

Careful ….

As we climbed higher, temperatures decreased.  Cloudless blue skies and warm sun during the day were replaced, after sunset, by cold starlit nights, and by 8pm we were usually in the warmth of our down sleeping bags.  Camping at Lar (3,245m) after a visit to Rachen Gompa monastery, it fell to below 0c overnight, and we were glad to be moving the next morning.  Our highest point was above Mu Gompa monastery, at 3,700m, tantalisingly close to the Tibetan border, which was two days away but still 1,500m above us.

View from my tent at 3700m

View from my tent at 3700m

We returned down the valley to Arughat, a week away, often on alternative paths and camping at different locations.  My favourite was outside the village school at Ripche, surrounded by magnificent peaks, and where the children posed proudly for photos, holding the pencils and crayons they had been given.

Ripche schoolchildren

Ripche schoolchildren

We were superbly looked after by the team from Glacier Safari Trek  –   porters who carried heavy  loads on difficult terrain, cooks who provided nutritious meals high on carbo-hydrate and protein, and our Sherpa guides, the ever-smiling Lokpa, Norbu, Nymar and Prakesh.

Our Sherpa guides

Our Sherpa guides

Back in Kathmandu we relaxed, went sight-seeing, reminisced and re-lived our experiences of the past two weeks.  At a celebratory dinner, before we flew our separate ways next morning,
lines from Everest mountaineer Frank Smythe’s book “The Spirit of the Hills” came to mind :

“And so from the hills we return, refreshed in body, mind and spirit, to grapple anew
with life’s problems.  For a while we have lived simply and happily ; we have made good
friends ; we have adventured well. “    

Here are some more photos from the trip…

Ganesh Himal 2

Ganesh Himal 2

Ganesh Himal

Ganesh Himal

Katmandu

Katmandu

On the way back

On the way back

Sringi Himal

Sringi Himal

Tibetan onlookers

Tibetan onlookers

The winner of the Explore Christmas Puzzle was James Dymore-Brown, and the correct answer was ‘SOUGIA’.  Thanks to all who entered.

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4 Responses to “Paleochora Himalayan Expedition”

  1. James Dymore-Brown

    Hi Bob,

    Very pleased to have won the Quiz ! I hope to be back in May/June, 32 years after my first visit.

    Best wishes James

  2. Bob Tait

    Well done again! I will leave your winner’s voucher at ‘To Delfini’ bookshop at the beginning of May for you. Look out for another Puzzle in December.
    Bob

  3. Judith

    dear bob
    Have lost your personal email . Coming to stay at alexia rooms 12 may for aweek before moving on to loutro. It would be good to see you .
    Love judith

  4. Barry and Jenny

    Bob
    We will be travelling to Paleochora from Manchester next week 7th July. Maybe we’ll catch up with you one evening during our week’s stay at our favourite eating establishment(Third eye!) which we hope is still going strong?
    Best wishes
    From Barry and Jenny

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