Thursday, August 30

Day 10/11/12 - Mongla, Namche then back to Lukla

Major Hume happy to reach Lukla in one piece - no recues required. Had called ahead to try to get out return tickets confirmed on an earlier flight, but weather more our problem.

En-route to Namche...

Saw old friends Lhakpa and her husband Nge again, - hot milky tea was great. She made our beads...

Stayed in Dawa's Paradise lodge - "All our cooking are done by gas and kerosene, mostly".

She was a wonderful host and we highly recommend her lodge.

Wednesday, August 29

Day 9 - Gokyo to Mongla 3978m

Decide to go down due to cloudy weather. This instead of going up to Gokiyo Ri or further up the Gazumpa glacier. This will also allow me more time to wait at Lukla in case weather is bad. Long day which we ended at friendly lodge in Mongla.
Second of Major Humes rescues...ask him... In the lodge dinning area, a mouse had carried about 1kg of rice into stove drawer - as we were first guests of season his treasure was discovered! Ag shame hey...

Rescuer and lodge owners, - all happy again

Tuesday, August 28

Day 8 - Arya to Gokyo (via Renjo pass - 5402m)

Left early to ascend towards Renjo pass (google earth N27 56.842 E86 39.511). Will be our highest point of trip, but should be ok due to the aclimitisation we have already done.

Had T stop a pretty lake before ascending the gigantic stairway up to the top. Jetboil humming...

Upwards and onwards Major Hume

Where's gromit?

Amazing that someone has created these rock stairs on the trickier sections of the climb. Eventually (after three and a half hours) we reach the top of the pass, just in time for some light snow - was pretty cold!

Both next pics for Stu and Neil at NewstarAM to spot the errors - all errors only due to altitude sickness and not incompetance...mostly

Major Hume would not let me borrow his flag, so resorted to next best option...

Arrived at a gloomy deserted Gokyo, which was certainly larger than the last time I was there. Lake also seemed to be much larger, but probably due to the fact we were approaching it from above.

Note: Major Hume went off piste on the way down - Peter, its easier to walk down the path than try to scamble down a flowing waterfall. 1st rescue....

Monday, August 27

Day 7 - Happy birthday sweetness

Rest day at Arya, after yesterdays long trek. A little disappointed that could not get on to Nang Pa La, but now time to ensure that Major Hume enjoys and has a challenging end to the trek. Pemba took us on a tour of his "estate". He also created pasta (momo's) using a genuine pasta making machine - amazing what one finds up here.

Looking back towards Pemba's "resort" in Arya

Hosemam rock - on the phone to Claire


Sunday, August 26

More - Nangpa La - Awe of Death

In his book ‘Storms of Silence’ Joe Simpson relates a more pitiable memoir of an experience on the same Nanga Pa trade route near the Tibetan border.

‘Did you see the grave?’
‘Grave? What grave?’
‘There’s a grave further down the trail. We passed it yesterday.’
‘I didn’t see a grave,’ I said, trying to remember the walk up from Arya.
‘It wasn’t very obvious,’ Geoff added, ‘just a mound of stones really. It's not far away. Do you want to see it?'
‘Er . . . no’, I hesitated. ‘I don't think so. Not now - I'll see it on the way down.’
As I set off after the others I couldn't get the woman's grave out of my mind. Who was she? Who buried her? Why did she die? I wondered why she hadn't been brought down for cremation or given a traditional Tibetan air burial. Maybe they don't do that round here.
I turned the volume up on my personal stereo and tried to forget her but she kept coming back to me. It was troubling to be hexed by the memory of a grave that I hadn't seen and a woman who, for me, might never have existed. I thought of the wind-whispered voices in the shelter and remembered the sense of past souls calling to me from the shadows.
The bleak emptiness of the stony valley where she had died unsettled me. I hoped that she had died in the company of others, even the arms of strangers, rather than face that ultimate loneliness by herself. The barren mound of rocks she had become was something to warn passing travellers and quicken their steps; a grim lonely site, unmarked, almost indistinguishable from the surrounding rubble.
I wondered whether she had been with a group or if passing traders had stumbled across her body as it was released by the melting winter snows. Perhaps she had been separated from her party in a storm, slowed down by her weakness until .at last she succumbed to the insidious grip of winter's frost. Maybe she simply got lost in a blizzard and passed the group of shelters never knowing how close she was to protection from the storm.
Who was to say that it was a storm or altitude sickness that had killed her? Her frailty may have already been created long before she attempted to cross the pass. She could have been a nun escaping imprisonment and torture, half-starved, staggering down from the mountain, abandoning her beloved homeland and carrying away with her the scars of rifle butts and electric batons, broken bones and battered organs.(‘Storms of Silence’ published by Vintage 1997)
Joe Simpson is of course, the experienced mountaineer who achieved universal fame for surviving an incredible accident in the South American Cordillera Huayhuash mountains. As he fell over the edge of an ice cliff, his partner to whom he had been secured, lost his anchorage as well and felt himself been dragged remorselessly to the same edge. Faced with an unbelievable situation and having to make a momentous decision in a matter of a few split seconds, he cut Joe’s lifeline…
Joe came to rest on a narrow ledge in a deep crevasse with a shattered leg. The story of how he spent three days crawling through ‘the wasteland of crevasses and jumbled rock debris’ to arrive back in main camp just as the party was about to leave has been translated into thirteen languages and earned him the Boardman Tasker and NCR awards.(‘Touching the Void’ published by Vintage 1998)

More - Nangpa La - A Trading and Pilgrimage Route

A cursory reference by Hoseman to ‘Nangpa La’ on the 25 August… “that they were now beyond any fixed civilisation! (great to be ‘off’ the map so to speak) in preparation of their tentative further exploration of the Nangpa La Pass.”
A mere three-syllable name, meaningless to most of us, Nangpa La is at 5800 m, probably the highest trading pass in the world and has been in use for centuries mainly through the close spiritual ties in the form of Buddhism that existed between India and Tibet. The yaks of Sola Khumbu as well as vegetables, fruit, grain, cloth, sugar, tobacco and many other goods from the foothills are greatly prized in Tibet. In return, travellers bring back great quantities of salt. Thus to the Sherpas it is both a trade route to Tingri and a pilgrimage route to Rongbuk. In the monastery of Thyangboche, there is a throne specially reserved for the Lama of Rongbuk. WH Murray considered a ‘complete’ writer of books on the Himalayas and mountaineering in general, wrote of a hike along this pass as follows:“Bourdillon and I left Chhule on 6 November (1951). Within a mile, we passed the snout of the glacier and took to the old moraines of the left bank. At last we could see the Nangpa La (or so we thought), where scree slopes at the glacier’s head rose to a col exactly as marked on the map. Suddenly our track swung right (north) into what turned out to be the true continuation of the main glacier which falls from the Nangpa La. The map wrongly marks the Nangpa La at the head of the westerly branch, and does not mark in the very much greater eastern branch. In brief, the map-maker had not gone up to the Nangpa La. At last the moraines petered out. We had travelled nine miles in nine hours when we dropped onto the glacier and pitched camp in a stony hollow. In the morning Bourdillon, Ang Puta, and I followed a track of yak dung through a mile-long mass of stone covering the glacier. Then we came onto the bare surface, in which yaks had trodden deep channels. No snow had fallen for many days; daily sun and nightly frost had transformed the surface into clear ice. In four hours we arrived on the pass – a wide and spacious snowfield, full of sun and the stir of air.”
(The Story of Everest 1921-1952) Reading Hoseman’s report we appreciate anew the references to active glaciers and moraines.

Day 6 Lunak to Turnaround point

Gelbu with Jetboils at Lunak camp

So close! Objective today was to try to push on up to the Nangpa La (pass). We were now on a very small trail (only used by locals crossing from Tibet to Nepal). Were walking parallel to the very large Bhote Koshi glacier. Terrain pretty rough - bouldering in a quarry, landslides as the glacier cuts away the valley walls (and paths!).

Now have view of objective - icy glacier of Nang Pa. Unfortunately on glimses of some very high peaks - thick cloud layer. Decide to leave Peter to try and push through difficult terrain. Carry tent, etc and couple of days food. Hour layer hear Gelbu (porter) shouting as had forgotten my gas cannister! No Gromit to remind me...

Unfortunately trail now completely eroded. Try for half hour to find acceptable route, but glacier very rough with damgerous icy walls covered with sandy grit. Decide to turn around.

Google position: N28 03.033 E86 35.835

GPS tracking log showing end point

Google Earth screenshot showing that only 3.5 km short of objective

From the other side...

Long wet trek back to Arya. Burnt 5,500 kcals today during 9 hour day. Peter surpised to see me.

Saturday, August 25

Day 5 Arya to Lunak-5008m

Google Earth N28 00 39.8 E86 35 43.2
We are now past any fixed civilisation! Great to be "off" the map so to speak. Our porters have really been with us so that we could take this route - and have been carrying our camping equipment. We have brought the two Terra Nova tents that I will be using at Depot and Camp I on Shisha.

There was quite a difficult river crossing (section shown here) from glacier mouth along route. Decided to agree with Major Hume and accept that we will push to climb over 600m today. Higher now than any range in the Alps.

Very damp on arrival at Lunak, which consists of some stone shelters - look very unsafe and definately not worth the risk of sleeping inside them. Wet dinner huddled around two jetboils. Rs25 lighters useless.

Friday, August 24

Day 4 Thame to Arya 4385m

Google Earth N27 55 9.5 E86 37 32.4
Arya is not on the map, but we were able to stay with Pemba Sherpa (who has carried loads to the South Col on Everest 9 times! He was a Sherpa for I climbed with Willi Prittie of AAI back in 99. Now firmly into Yak/Nak territory. Dry weather but cloudy. Great that neither Peter nor I are having any altitude issues.

Pemba is on the left

Chhonaba one of our porters

Thursday, August 23

Namche Bazaar 3400m to Thame 3820m

Thame Google Earth position N27 49 52.2 E86 38 57
Great to be back in Thame after 9 years. Its amazing how familiar things still are! Stayed at the Sunshine Lodge near the school. Last time Gromit was a real hit with all the kids, but alas this time he is still stuck in London.

En-route saw these amazing rock paintings

One of the many suspension bridges, this one over a particularly deep and narrow gorge

Visited the Thame monastery, where a Puja was in progress. The very deep voices of the monks was very moving and I silently requested permission to grace Shisha's summit. I think Peter also found the experience quite moving.

Wednesday, August 22

Wednesday 22nd, Namche Bazaar 3,440m

Amazingly after only a couple of days we are in Namche Bazaar. London - Doha, Doha - Kathmandu flights all fine except for having to return to Doha for two hours after some small technical hitch” after take-off. I think the landing with full tanks caused more problems than the original “hitch”. Kathmandu (KTM) has not changed. Great to have Kedar from Explore Himalaya ( at the airport to meet us. Always good to see his ever smiling face.
Stanhope Gardens was not as complete as I would have liked. Sorry to Claire! Also did not have a chance to say cheers to Mum & Dad in Swellendam. Only got to bed at 3:00 after installing (very badly the last of the kitchen base units) – Could not believe it when the taxi arrived to take me to Heathrow – time certainly flew.
We had rather optimistically booked our flights to Lukla for the next day after we had arrived at KTM. But amazingly the weather was clear (monsoon still very much around) and we flew out to Lukla on our first attempt! [Approx GPS reference for Google Earth at N27 41.280 E086 43.918] Our plan was to see how well we felt and if ok, reach Nanche Bazaar.

The weather was very warm with only a small amount of cloud. Great compared to the lovely British weather back home… Very green valleys with plenty of crops being harvested. A surprise was to have meant Gelbu at KTM at our hotel Marshyandi. He was the great cook I had last year while trekking up the Langtang valley. He was based at Kangin Gompa at the end of the trail. Anyway as we were thinking of getting a porter to carry some of the camping gear, and as he said he was keen, we asked Kedar to see if he could get Gelbu onto the same flight to Lukla we were on. No problems and half our cost – so before he knew it he was on his first ever flight, to a valley which he had never seen! Quite something if any of you have seen the runway at Lukla – in the middle of the mountains, short and sloping quite dramatically.
After about 8 hours on the trek, which consisted of approx. 4 hours resting and 4 hours walking, we reached Namche. The final part consists of a fairly steep climb up to the village, which is much like it was the last time I was here in 1998. Peter was fine and seemed to handle the trek very easily. At the lodge (Buddha) he immediately began planning the rest of the trip – I must say with his intentions would make a good leader on an SAS selection course… We will have to see how we feel to see what we can reasonably achieve.

I had to be quite insistent on staying at Namche today (Wednesday). We had climbed quite a bit from Lukla yesterday and as Namche is at 3,440m, we certainly have to take into consideration a good acclimitisation plan. I seemed to be in need of masses of sleep, probably due to the last week in London, flights and planning/packing required before our flight, but now can say I’m starting to feel a little more human.
As I don’t want to overextend myself this early in the trip we have organized another porter to join us for another two days. Tomorrow we leave for Thame and this will probably be the last frequently visited lodge along our route – hence why we are carrying our camping gear and food etc. All not necessary on the more frequented routes due to the very good lodge infrastructure.
Thanks for the donations to
Post note….Gromit I have not really forgot you – Mrs H, please courier out to Kedar of Explore Himalaya, who else will remember the matches…

Thursday, August 16

As far as comments about hair colour is concerned my advice to Mrs H is to definitely change her door locks because a substitute 'Eminem' is lurking in the shadows. Watch out. Don't open any door until the real Hoseman returns form tibet!

Sunday, August 12

Some facts about the trip

Mountain: Shishapangma
It’s the lowest of the fourteen eight thousand meter peaks in the world
Located in south-central Tibet, a few kilometres from the border with Nepal.
It is the only eight-thousander entirely within Chinese territory
I will be attempting the "standard" route from the North side

Height gain from base camp is 3,027m
I will probably travel over 220km on the climb
Due to load carrying and the acclimatisation required, I will actually ascend over 9,000m

Base Camp - 5,000m - Will drive there
Advanced Base Camp - 5,600m - Will use Yaks to carry all my gear. I will be using Project Himalaya for infrastructure support up to this level
Depot Camp – 5,800m – Climbing starts from here and my objective is to have no support from here onwards
Camp 1 – 6,500m – Am going to try to go 100m higher for this camp than last year. After crossing the penitentes steep climb up to Camp 1
Camp 2 – 7,000m – in a valley north of the summit
Camp 3 – 7,500 – On a ridge leading to the summit
True Summit – 8,027 – a bit of a knife ridge - see picture below

Jump to to see analysis of route

Will carry at least:
6 loads to Depot Camp
4 loads to Camp 1
2 loads to Camp 2
1 load to Camp 3
Then back to ABC for so rest and recuperation before climbing to the summit over about 5 to 7 days

A shot of Ed Viesturs (has climbed all fourteen eight thousanders) returning from the true summit of Shisha

Saturday, August 11

Packed, renovated and ready to go

Sunday’s departure date is fast approaching. It’s been a little manic due to delays with progress on renovating the flat. Hopefully I would have done enough to make the flat liveable and therefore Mrs H won’t change the locks while I’m away.

Plan is as follows:
Peter and I depart for Kathmandu this Sunday. Monsoon permitting, we fly to Lukla on Tuesday morning for two weeks trekking up a valley west of Everest up to the Nangpa La (pass). This route is not well travelled so should be “rustic” and certainly won’t be the same as being outside Harrods at lunchtime. The objective is to see a new part of the world, look over the pass into Tibet, at Cho Oyo (8,201m) and to start the first phase of my acclimatisation before the climb begins. We will have to tread carefully at the “border” as last year there was an incident where a nun was shot by Chinese border guards – see article at

Have Google Earth available as we will be sending back co-ordinates of our progress. Thanks for all the comments about our hair, lack of it or colour there-of. Thanks in advance for donating to Rainbow Trust Children's Charity. If you haven’t yet then please do! – See