The latest from Project Himalaya
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Kim spreads her wings

Kim cried and I nearly did too, if the truth be told. However our paths are diverging.

Kim joined forces with  Joel (sadly died in 2010) and myself way back in 2001-2002 and has run dozens of amazing treks throughout Nepal and Ladakh-Zanskar with Project Himalaya. As many of you will have noticed she has been using her own Kamzang brand, and has realized her dream of having her own company, Kamzang Journeys, well established now. She will be running her treks in an ever expanding range of countries and arranging more luxury trips, bike trips and women's trips, with her incredible energy.

I wish her all the very best and now meeting will be social instead of prioritizing enquiries and accounts!

- Jamie

Memories :)

Project Himalaya new directions

So Kim is leaving; and I, Jamie, am slightly altering course as well. For those of you that haven't met me, haven't experienced my passion for exploring and trekking, I have to repeat, I honestly love trekking, running our (usually somewhat exploratory) treks, and will continue but with less treks each year. Trekking is nourishing soul food.

One reason is Esther, and I have been spending more time in Singapore with her rather than Kathmandu, and in short, late next year she will take a break (I can't say more here). So we will trek, hopefully you will join us, and we will also travel widely in between. She hasn't seen much of the world - yet!

Another reason is I am an ideas person; solutions and innovations just gush out once I start thinking over an issue. My frustration sometimes overflows on Facebook about Nepal, perhaps because I understand what is going on at so many levels. More positively though, I want to follow up on a set of sustainable development and conservation-focused ideas that could be of great help to locals in the high country, to help themselves.

I won't go into detail now however I want to discuss with groups of nomads in Ladakh, get the background, the real story from them, and so the Chadar to Changtang Wild is part a crazy adventure, but also some research for a probable drokpa (semi-nomadic peoples) project.

And expedition changes too, after 15 successful and safe years, I won't be guiding my own teams on the big peaks anymore. Instead Our expeditions is now Our Tibet treks and I look forward to explorations there, especially now that I have a translator - Esther - to assist. And we already started, with an August exploratory trip that required more improvisation than expected, and we can also say with authority, don't trek in August. We were awed by zoo-bound snow leopards, and one of the ideas I want to follow up involves these apex predators. Photos and results next newsletter.

Snow Leopard in Xining zoo on G+

Earthquake update

Dawa and the team at HAMWWA thank you for the donations, and I really wanted to provide exact detail of where the US$3630 was spent however Dawa and the team were working so hard, still making trips to Dolakha and other places until less than a week before his big 34 day Dolpo trek now in the hills, that they couldn't translate the accounts.

He did show me hundreds of photos, he was working for half a dozen donors (friends), and in short from your donations there is half a school in Okaldhunga, in theory a "temporary learning centre" which in practice will be used for a decade or more, my guess, knowing the efficiency of the Nepal government.

Astonishingly, for all the loud noises about the government wanting to direct distribution etc, they failed to get their reconstruction authority off the ground, $4.1 billion unused (so far) and the monsoon is finished, yet now is the time they should be in full swing. Thus far, it has been the local communities themselves, and the nimble, grassroots groups plus the World Food Program (WFP) mainly, that have really made a difference.

So thank you.

Dawa with corrugated iron for roofing.

Zanskar Traverse

Asking in Leh (India), why are trek bookings so down with all operators, the main answer was the Nepal earthquake (plus the rise of the Markha homestay trek). It never occurred to me that Ladakh, a thousand miles away, would be affected, on the contrary I assumed it would boost business. No, Ladakh had a terrible season numbers-wise, and also had some appalling weather, especially the August flood which blocked the Leh-Manali road in five places and took a week to open. The region is bouncing back though and trekking conditions are virtually back to normal, as a one of our private Ladakh Passes team found.

I have confirmation now that bridges are rebuilt enough for our wonderful Zanskar Traverse trek to work next June and I am really keen to return, and a handful of trekkers are already interested. It really is one of the best treks there is, sublime landscapes, canyons to passes, village to wilderness variety, so do join us!


India visa update

India the tortoise (or should that be elephant?) is moving slowly but surely ahead, and now most nationalities, including Americans and Brits, can use the less time-wasting visa process. I hesitate to call it a visa on arrival as you must apply at least 4 days ahead of time, and up to a month ahead, however the system really is convenient for our treks which all fit in the 30 day window. Now if only the they would move ahead with a better mountaineering permit system... I have heard whispers though.

A gratuitous Ladakh blue sheep photo - album to come. Click for the caption (to G+ photos).


GHT treks and Everest update

It is GHT adventure time, the rest of the team arrive today and we are off to straighten out the Saipal missing link then find a high route to Mugu. Fingers crossed, nature will be kind. No cyclones or earthquakes, please!

After this in December I am updating my guide book, Trekking in the Everest Region, published by Trailblazer, so while there seem to be some gaps in my Project Himalaya schedule, I am keeping busy... !

Below, late February's project.

Trekking the semi-frozen Zanskar River