This excellent trekkers’ guide, a virtual Himalayan bible, has been written by one who faced the challenge of someof the world’s mightiest mountains, including Everest, several times over.
This book takes us through the Himalayan routes in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, china and Afghanistan, detailing the landscapes and the people, the facilities and the difficulties.
This book should be of interest to trekkers, mountaineers, students and all those who are interest in the Himalayas all over the world.
Captain M.S. Kohli is a former Naval officer and a most eminent mountaineer. In 1965, he led the Indian expedition to Mt. Everest and succeeded in putting nine climbers, in four successive parties, on the summit of Everest – a world record for a single-nation team, which remained unbroken for 17 years. Earlier, in 1962, he missed the summit under a raging blizzard by a sheer 100 metres and spent three nights at 8,500 metres, two without oxygen. This feat has never been repeated. Starting with Saser kangri in 1956 has as to his credit 14 major Himalayan expeditions. He joined Sir Edmund Hillary in "From the Ocean to the Sky" expedition in 1977 which heralded white-water rafting in India. In 1980 he led the Indo-French Yamuna Hovercraft expedition. After retirement, he decided to devote the rest of his life towards Himalayan conservation and initiated the formation of the Himalayan Environment Trust.
Capt. Kohli was awarded Padma Bhushan, Arjuna Award, Indian Mountaineering Gold medal and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal. He was the President of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (1989-93). A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and an internationally known mountaineer, Capt. Kohli has written several books on mountaineering.
On February 1, 1971, I was deputed by the Indian Navy to serve with Air-India. On joining the airline's Commercial Department in Bombay, I discovered that it had no precise plans with regard to my assignment and responsibility.
After several weeks of briefing and familiarisation with various divisions of the Commercial Department I was still in a quandary — till one fine morning an important development took place. I was invited to address the International Tourism Council. The President of the Council, Mr Homi Taleyarkhan, left the choice of the subject to me but stressed that it have some relevance to tourism.
During the past few years, and especially after our ascent of Everest in 1965, I had given several talks on Everest and other mountaineering and Himalayan subjects, but never on tourism. I was in a fix! Can there be any common ground between the Himalayas and tourism? And then an exciting idea began to evolve — why not promote tourism to the Himalayas? The more I thought of this, the more convinced I became of the tourism potential of the Himalayas. I titled my talk "Operation Himalayas" and spelled out a plan of action to market trekking-tours in the Himalayas. The idea received immediate response and there was wide coverage in the press.
I was now fully convinced of the vast scope and potential of the Himalayas for tourism. And for me this also clinched the issue of my assignment. The next morning I saw Mr S.K. Kooka, the then Commercial Director of Air-India, and suggested that I take up the task of promoting Himalayan. Tourism. Mr Kooka, without any hesitation, accepted my suggestion and asked me to go ahead full-speed. Within a few weeks I wrote Trekking and Climbing in the Himalayas. which was later revised as Trek the Himalayas.
For the first promotional visit I chose Japan. This was primarily because I had met a very large number of Japanese mountaineers visiting India during the past few years and also knew that there was mass interest in mountaineering and trekking in Japan. In Tokyo alone, I was told, there were over 1,000 mountaineering clubs) The response to my tour was even better than expected; it resulted in over 300 Japanese registering for various Himalayan treks. I was naturally delighted.
I followed Japan up with visits to Germany, Switzerland, France. Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. On a few occasions Tenzing Norgay, the first Everest climber, or his nephew, Nawang Gombu — the first man in the world to climb Everest twice — accompanied me. I even visited the Scandinavian countries whose people had never before been to the Himalayas. My visit to Stockholm in 1971 resulted in the Swedish Alpine Club deciding to send a team of climbers to Nun Kun. The next year, I was again invited by this club to attend their press conference in Stockholm called on the eve of the departure of its team to the Himalayas. As I took the plane for Paris the next morning, I noticed my photograph with the team under banner headlines. Could the departure of a small mountaineering expedition for the Himalayas be so important? On my request, a Swedish lady in an adjacent seat translated this for me. It read: THE SWEDES ARE BECOMING CRAZY — THEY ARE GOING TO THE HIMALAYAS.
However, the concept of a journey into the Himalayas received acceptance everywhere. I was invited to address several mountaineering and adventure clubs, as well as to appear in prestigious TV programmes such as the David Frost Show and To Tell the Truth.
In two years over 10,000 trekkers were visiting the Himalayas, and the number kept growing steadily every year. The credit for such a phenomenal growth does not go to me; it is the beautiful Himalayas which have drawn them all. My contribution was perhaps that of a catalyst.
The number of mountaineering expeditions to different parts of the Himalayas has also been going up considerably. For peaks like Everest there is a long queue and one has to wait for six to seven years for a booking. With an influx of trekkers, some popular trekking-trails are showing signs of pollution. As this edition goes to press, the Nanda Devi Sanctuary has been declared a National Park and temporarily closed to all trekkers and climbers. While some fragile areas in the Himalayas may need special attention, it is my belief that the Himalayas are too vast to be polluted like several other tourist-infested destinations in the world.
Besides trekking and mountaineering, there are other adventurous Himalayan pursuits such as river-running. In 1967, Sir Edmund Hillary introduced jet-boating in the Sun Kosi River in Nepal. In 1977, I joined him in another jet-boat expedition up the Ganges, from the Bay of -Bengal to its Himalayan source. An exciting film and a book on this, From Ocean to Sky, has aroused world-wide interest in rafting and jet-boating in the Himalayan rivers. Several Himalayan expeditions and trekking groups today include rafting in their programmes. In 1981, the Himalayas witnessed a new concept — a traverse along its length from east to west. The first two major traverses were by the Indian Army and joint Indo-New Zealand teams. Today, several teams are engaged in such traverses which take from six to 15 months. In 1983 two Britons introduced yet another concept — a Run Across the Himalayas. With such new trends gaining popularity I have included in this book opportunities for river-running, climbing and other adventures in the Himalayas.
In 1981, I was invited to the first ever International Trekking Convention in Rawalpindi. This gave me an opportunity of visiting Haripur Hazara, a beautiful mountainous town nestling in the hills of the Kaghan Valley, barely 50 miles from Rawalpindi. It was here that I was born and spent the early years of my life. I was returning to Haripur after 34 long years and was naturally full of emotion and excitement.
It was during this Convention, which was attended by several leading mountaineers from different parts of the world, that I decided to include the beautiful Himalayan region of Pakistan, as well as all other Himalayan countries in this book: The Himalayas straddle eight countries, Russia, China, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Burma. Of these. I have not included Russia and Burma as not much trekking activity is noticeable in these eastern and western extremities of the Himalayas.
I also realised that trekkers and mountaineers are easily the greatest repeat-travellers in tourism — those who visit the Himalayas once keep coming back, be it to India, Pakistan or Nepal. And those who have never visited the Himalayas can never really understand fully the meaning of a journey into them. No words or description of the Himalayas can ever do full justice to the beauty and majesty of this enchanting environment; one has to experience this white and timeless world to fully realise its impact. It is also my firm belief that the promotion of Himalayan tourism could become a shining example of regional cooperation among the countries sharing the Himalayas.
Today the Himalayan scene has undergone a great change. Every year, there are around a score of people engaged in a long and arduous Himalayan traverse: around a hundred or two indulging in river-running and about 3,000 climbers attempting various Himalayan summits. But the number of trekkers has gone even beyond 50,000. And the number of those just visiting the numerous hill stations and simply enjoying the cool climate and magnificent scenic views, is still larger. This guide is meant for all such categories of tourists.
In writing this book, I have received considerable help and assistance from several persons, particularly from Mr M.C. Motwani, the . Administrative Officer of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, and Mr S. S. Khera, a former President of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. The title of this book has also been chosen on the advice of Mr Khera. I am most grateful to them all.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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