Majesty of the Himalayas

The Himalayas are the highest mountain range on Earth, located in Asia, separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. It is home to the world’s highest peaks, even 10 out of a total of 14 over 8,000 meters, but also over 50 other peaks over 7,200 m. The most famous of them is Mount Everest.

If you mention the Himalayas, you will awaken in people the associations of unreachability, coldness, and danger of the highest peak of the world, Mount Everest. The Himalayas are all that, but they also embody Mother Nature’s beauty in her most divine form. Mystic peaks wrapped in clouds are a balm for the eyes and the soul.

Our climbing adventure to the Himalayas has already begun in Pula at sea level, and the journey took us to the world’s highest peaks. The ride to the foothills has been a long one, but after 30 hours of various means of transport, we arrive in Nepal, a country where 10 of the 14 highest peaks of the world are located, exceeding 8000 m above sea level.

The inner positive restlessness and satisfaction we have come to are becoming more pronounced, and the desire to rise is growing. After a few days of acclimatization in the city, we embark on the journey of the magnificent Himalayas.

After nine hours on a local bus, which is an adventure in itself, due to the number of passengers on the bus and the roof, due to the extreme driving around the abyss edge, with bruises on the back due to the macadam road and uncomfortable seats, we finally arrive in Dunche.

The city of Dunche is the starting point of the ascent, a beautiful place surrounded by terraced rice plantations and lively and always smiling people living in the town, constantly pleasantly surprise you with a charming local greeting – Namaste.

The next morning, after we opened our eyes and stepped out onto the hostel terrace where we slept, we experienced the first shock. All around us were massive snow peaks, a particular eye balm that lures on the rise.

On the expedition went a dozen acquaintances accompanied by one Sherpa guide and four carriers. The aim of the climb was the sacred Lake Gosaikunda, located in the first Himalayan National Park in Lang Tang province at an elevation of 4380 m above sea level. According to Hindu legend, the lake created the god Shiva to drink water after drinking poison and thus saved the world from destruction.

The expedition started. We stored the photo equipment, sleeping bag, clothes, and other necessary equipment (which is never enough) in large backpacks (which the average Sherpa would fit into) and transferred them to the back. Part of the team gave its backpacks to the carriers, who will, like us, carry them through the biggest ups and downs of the next nine days.

Nature used to reward us every morning with half an hour of incredible scenes of Himalayan peaks enveloped in clouds that were more important to photographers than winning the lottery (though that wouldn’t be too bad).

The first day of our climb was not too strenuous because we did not cross a significant difference in altitude, and most of the ascent was moderate. Along the way, we met many interesting people and children from nearby villages who were always happy to pose for the camera.

As we climbed higher, the path became narrower, and we encountered fewer people. However, the prices of meals in the lodges increased. Lodges are small mountain huts where one family lives and offer food and accommodation to tourists.

We realized that the cost of food and drink must be higher in the mountains due to the difficulty of transporting supplies. Back and workforce remained the only means of transportation.

The following days of the climb were more challenging than expected, but the stunning views of the Himalayan peaks wrapped in clouds made it worth it. Those scenes were more important to us photographers than winning the lottery. Although, the latter would not be bad either.

We were in awe every morning when we woke up at 5.30 am to see the Himalayan mornings, which were indescribable in words. We had to bundle up, as the morning temperatures were often below zero, and then prepare our camera and accessories for half an hour of nirvana. It was an unforgettable experience.

It is interesting to see how people make wooden furniture for their homes because transporting them is almost impossible. The kindness and friendliness of the residents of the “clouds” additionally fill you with positive energy.

They seemed to have no worries or problems and had plenty of time. That relaxed state is most evident when ordering food. It usually takes at least two hours from ordering a meal to consuming it. But they are lovely, and it does not cause you tension.

The biggest problem with trekking is the shower due to the lack of hot water and decent shower cubicles. In most cases, the existing ones resemble outhouses with a shower. On one occasion, the author of these lines decided to take a shower in that outhouse shower while the outside temperature was about zero, without heating and hot water.

The outhouse shower had no door, but a piece of the board on which a short rope served as a fuse to secure the door would not open during bathing. Starting the shower adventure, the feeling of bone-cracking with every contact of water prevailed, but the desire for cleanliness was still strong enough to face this challenge.

An older woman with a French accent decided to have a look with her companion to see what the outhouse toilet looked like without knowing that someone was inside. After strange noises came from outside the shower, the energetic elderly lady broke the fuse and opened the door. It was another in a series of shocks. It is not comfortable staying naked entirely with a shower in hand in front of a dozen sixty-year-olds who are amazed to see who is crazy enough to bathe in such a cold.

Approaching the summit, we stepped into the realm of eternal snow and ice. The scene was fantastic, the snow and ice lakes at heights where there is no vegetation, no animals are looked like a fairytale, and all around us just the power and beauty of Mother Nature.

During the ascent, there were plenty of adventures. The situation among the expedition members was getting better every day, regardless of the weight of the climb. Not a night would pass without everyone singing, telling jokes, or life’s adventures at candlelight (since there was no electricity).

The more challenging the expedition became, the stronger the friendship between us. Nothing can unite people like a mountain.

At the same time, the higher the landscapes, the more beautiful and striking the scenery was. One night, over 4000 m, was particularly memorable. In the middle of the night, we could not close our eyes. We felt an urge to go for a walk.

There was tension and excitement for no particular reason. After a few minutes of turmoil in our warm sleeping bags, we decided to go outside for some air. The temperature was unbearably low, certainly a dozen degrees below zero, but we were determined. After exiting the cottage, we immediately wanted to return to our warm sleeping bags. The moon was high, and we circled the log cabin.

After about ten meters, we stopped for a second and looked up. In front of us, like in a fairy tale, Langtang Lirum, the highest summit of the Himalayan chain of the Langtang Mountains and one of the most dangerous peaks in the world, emerged from the clouds.

Last year, the world-renowned climber Slovenian Tomaz Humar died there, and there were other injured climbers before him. The summit looked imposing yet harmless (maybe because we were miles away), but as any mountaineer knows, it has taken many souls. We admired it silently.

The next day was the penultimate day of the climb. We reached the holy Gossaikunda lake, and the weather was not on our side. We had to walk for two hours in heavy rain, ice, snow, and cold wind.

With the outside temperature far below zero, we reached a cottage on the lake. The scene is incredible. The conditions were extreme, but it could not hide the divine beauty of the lake, which left no one indifferent.

We went on a lake tour in a clockwise direction, respecting the ancient tradition of the Hindu places and temples. The cold and the night interrupted our admiration for the beauty of the holy lake, and we had to retreat inside for some warm tea and garlic soup.

This soup had been our paramount source of nutrition and helped us boost our immunity and prevent altitude sickness. Some expedition members experienced lighter symptoms, but nobody was affected severely.

The last day of the ascent came. We ascended to the mountain pass Laubirinda, which was almost 4700 meters high, similar to the highest peak in Europe – Mont Blanc.

Approaching the summit, we entered a world of eternal snow and ice. The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful. Snow and icy lakes looked like a fairytale despite having no vegetation or animals. Around us was the power and beauty of Mother Nature.

Our admiration lasted only half an hour. Nature decided to send a strong wind and clouds, which chased us out of the eternally cold empire.

After reaching the highest point, we began a four-day descent. During the downhill, the weather was harsh and intermittently even apocalyptic. However, the waterfalls that descended from the mountaintop looked mighty and magical, and the rain only added to the beauty.

The greenery gradually overpowered all other colors, and nature became lush. After four days of walking through the forest of rhododendrons and rosewoods, we arrived at the first village, marking the end of our Himalayan adventure.

Our time in the magnificent Himalayas, surrounded by the world’s highest peaks, has evoked many emotions. All these powerful scenes around us made us appreciate the beauty and grandeur of nature.

We were reminded of the importance of showing respect and love to our planet. The majesty of the Himalayas left a deep mark of respect in us, and we are sure that we will return in the future.

TEXT & PHOTO – Andrea Grabundja