By Subhasish Chakraborty
Nepal – A country of amazing extremes, with a total land area of 147,181 Sq.Kms. is bordered by China in the North and by India in the South, West and East. The landmass is divided into three geographical zones – the high Himalayas, the mid Himalayas or Mountainous Region with long terraced slopes leading to fertile valleys and the flat sub-tropical Terai region.
Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal is full of shrines, temples, palaces, palace squares and ageless sculptures that are now an integral part of Kathmandu city. Amazingly, Kathmandu city is the only city in the world with as many as seven World Heritage Sites (Cultural) located within a distance of 20 Kms. radius. Being in Kathmandu is like walking through the pages of history. It is a stupendous city in its own right.
In Nepal, Tourism is the most important industry after agriculture and contributes substantially to the upliftment of the quality of life of her people. As a socio-economic activity, tourism touches the life of every Nepali citizen in one way or the other and it is in the fitness of things that Nepal, as a nation should resolve to revitalize her Tourism industry through Sustainable & Value Based Tourism.
Last year by a stroke of luck, one of my childhood school buddy from Tezpur, located in the remote North Eastern state of Assam, called me up and informed me about the meteoric rise of Ang Tshering Lama, as one of Nepal’s most renowned mountaineer and high-altitude trekking expedition organizer.
As the CEO of Angs Himalayan Adventures, which is rated amongst the best Adventure & Expedition operators in Nepal, Ang has over the past two decades been guiding people from all over the world to Nepal, Tibet and the Indian Himalayas. He honed his skills as a mountaineer at Mt. Rainier National Park, WA. US and the Denali National Park (Mc Kinley) Alaska.
In recent times, Ang Tshering Lama was in the news when he along with a group of Sherpa guides came to the rescue of two climbers – Abdul Jabbar Bhatti and his guide Sange in May 21, 2017.
The National Geographic quotes – “Since they were showing signs of life, Ang and his team offered supplemental oxygen and encouraged them to begin their trip to the camp below. The second group, which included Lama, eventually arrived at the same location and found the two in a similarly risky but responsive state. They provided the pair with additional oxygen, covered their hands, and radioed the nearby camps. After being assured that Sherpas would be sent for the pair, the Khangri Outdoors group continued their ascent.
On their descent, however, they found Sange and Bhatti unmoved and in a far worse state. No help had arrived. The delirious pair had discarded the supplemental oxygen they’d already been given without using it, so Nima Gyalzen offered his own. Lama, Ang Jangbu, and Nima Gyalzen decided the only way to ensure the safety of the struggling duo would be to bring them down the mountain themselves. As they prepared to pull the two along the treacherous slope, Pemba guided the original group alone.
A certain disaster was averted and Ang the mountaineer showed what stuff he is made of. Today, thanks to Ang’s deft mountain rescue skills, Abdul Jabbar Bhatti in Pakistan and Sange in Kathmandu are alive. They may have lost a few fingers, but they have been given a new lease of life, courtesy – Ang and his dedicated Sherpa rescuers.
After a flurry of phone calls and lots of E-mail exchanges, I just couldn’t say “No” when Ang Tshering requested me to come on a visit to Nepal and see for myself the state of affairs in this Himalayan wonderland.
No wonder, it was such an emotional few minutes after I landed in Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan Airport by an evening flight from Delhi and Ang was there to receive me.
Leaving behind Kathmandu’s impressive heritage and warm Himalayan hospitality, Ang decided to embark on a trek to the Everest Base Camp with me so that I could experience firsthand the state of affairs in the high Himalayas.
After a thrilling half-an-hour’s flight, we reached the high Himalayan town of Lukla and the first brush of the mountain air that hit me as I disembarked from the helicopter was bone chilling. Once we checked in at the specialty tent, I saw in utter disbelief my own image on the mirror and with the jacket on, I already looked like a sturdy “Mountain Man”.
I was told by Ang that Lukla basically is a tiny Sherpa village located at an awesome height of 9500 feet above sea level. Practically perched on Dudh-Koshi, Lukla is a trekker’s paradise and is a popular starting point of treks to Mt. Everest.
Here in Lukla, every lodge and tent owner knows Ang Tshering Lama’s name. He is very popular in this part of Nepal and has conducted countless high-altitude expeditions for over a decade.
There are lots of tented accommodations available here in Lukla and not everybody comes to conquer Mt. Everest., although the number of Everest aspirants are sizeable, as I was to discover for myself during my numerous mountain walks with Ang for company.
The Everest National Park can be visited throughout the year and it extends to all of 1148 Sq. Kms. of wilderness inviting you. As the very name suggests, the park includes the highest peak of the world – Mt. Everest and several other impressive Himalayan peaks challenging mankind to conquer them. The Everest National Park has been declared as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
Wild animals include the Himalayan Thar, Serow, Goral etc… The rare and elusive Snow Leopard too has been sighted in this region. Quite a challenge ! Isn’t it?
But, yes, you have nothing to fear in spite of trekking at such stupendous heights and I can vouch for the local Sherpas whom you meet along the trail who would only be too happy to treat you as an honored guest at each place you decide to pitch your tent.
After having spent 3 Days, I had a running nose and light fever. Although Ang was pretty enthusiastic, he would take me to the awesome Shey Phuksundo National Park that harbors one of the world’s largest habitats of the elusive Snow Leopard, Blue Sheep, Wolf and other rare wildlife species. Since I was showing signs of altitude sickness, we decided to cancel our trip to Shey Phuksundo National Park.
Mt. Everest – Cleaning Up the Mess:
Back in Kathmandu as we sat by the cozy fireplace at Ang’s modest home, he was a touch emotional for the sorry state of affairs in Nepal’s high altitude trekking and mountaineering sector. For instance – the South Co holds the key for mountaineers determined to climb Mount Everest. It is the launching pad from which all the expeditions make their way up to the summit. Considered the most hostile place on planet earth, it is 26,000 feet above sea level, lashed by 100 to 140 mph winds and frozen by temperatures running below minus 40 to 100 degree Celsius.
According to Ang, this region today has come to enjoy the dubious distinction of having become the world’s highest graveyard. Strewn with garbage and dead bodies of unfortunate climbers, mountaineers dread having to camp there today.
Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbed Everest in the year 1953. Then it seemed to be a feat. Today anyone could do it. It is quite common to find 300 people from 15 teams simultaneously camped at the Everest Base Camp.
As part of the Sustainable Tourism agenda, it is imperative to clean up the mess so that one of the world’s greatest natural wonders can be restored to its pristine glory. The Everest experience also has lessons with regard to mankind’s forays into virgin territories like the Antarctica and the unexplored realms of outer space, which are also getting cluttered with debris of our civilization.
Travelling with Angs Himalayan Adventures:
Angs Himalayan Adventures (AHA) offers a bewildering array of bespoke personal adventures for the prospective Himalayan adventurers. Apart from trekking and mountaineering, the adrenalin pumping adventurer can also look forward to some of the best river rafting, off-road driving and mountain biking trails. AHA itineraries are carefully designed and allow you with the freedom to explore the Himalayas at your own pace.
When it comes to the question of crew/client ratio, AHA scores very high and that goes a long way to ensure safety during your time in the Himalayas.
Most of their trips are high octane adventure stuff that takes today’s jet set travelers to some remotest parts of the Nepal Himalayas. On most trips, Ang personally supervises the logistics.
AHA is committed to sustainable tourism and supports the Himalayan folks who live below the poverty line.
Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport is well served by routine international flights. Both Silk Air and Dragon Air operate regular flights to Kathmandu.
For further information on high altitude trekking expeditions and mountaineering in Nepal, please feel free to get in touch with –
Angs Himalayan Adventures
P.O. Box 1384,
Tel: 977-1-4497192, 977-9841255380