Footsteps on the Mountain blog

Follow me on TwitterLike me on FacebookFollow me on TumblrSubscribe to my RSS feeds
Watch my YouTube channelFollow me on Google+See my Amazon profileSee my Goodreads profile

Footsteps on the Mountain

A client's-eye view of the world of mountaineering and adventure travel

"There was no question about it, mountains offered all that the heart could desire."
Eric Shipton

To climb or not to climb? Those last 50 metres

Slogging through snow close to the place where Conway and Maquignaz turned around

When you’ve put so much time, money and physical commitment into a climb, it’s never easy to turn around just fifty metres from the top. Here are some stories from Aconcagua which help to shed light on when that decision should be made. Continue reading

July 1, 2015 4:05 pm | Comments (0)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | |

Nepal earthquake gets the BBC Panorama treatment

BBC Panorama Disaster on Everest

I was a little apprehensive when I heard there was a BBC Panorama documentary about the Nepal earthquake called Disaster on Everest, by a journalist who accompanied climbers to Base Camp. I need not have worried. Continue reading

June 24, 2015 4:02 pm | Comments (0)

Tags: | | | | | | | |

Is disaster reporting becoming too violent?

Everest Base Camp after the 2015 earthquake (Photo: Edita Nichols)

After two major tragedies on Everest in the last two years, which generated worldwide media interest, I have found myself reading increasingly violent reports, with explicit descriptions of injuries and upsetting photographs. Continue reading

June 17, 2015 4:00 pm | Comments (3)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | |

An extraordinary case of mountaineering integrity

Mt Kenya's two principal summits Nelion and Batian peep up behind shafts of giant lobelia on its lower slopes. Mt Kenya's lush heathlands must have seemed like heaven to escaped prisoners.

With a drip feed of FIFA corruption allegations hitting the headlines, I’ve decided to use this week’s blog post to highlight a case of sporting integrity beyond the call of duty, and in doing so salute Italian mountaineers. Continue reading

June 10, 2015 4:07 pm | Comments (3)

Tags: | | | | | | |

Everest 2014-15: A personal tale of two tragedies

A series of protests at Everest Base Camp last year eventually led to all teams quitting the mountain

Last year I was on my way into the Khumbu Icefall on Everest, and watched in horror as a huge avalanche took the lives of sixteen Sherpas. This year I watched from a distance as an earthquake put that event into perspective. Here is my personal account of witnessing both tragedies. Continue reading

June 3, 2015 4:04 pm | Comments (2)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | |

The house that can be carried on porter back

Porters sometimes feel like they are carrying a house on their back, and now they literally can

One of the best examples of Nepalese resourcefulness I’ve seen since the earthquake last month is the Himalayan Climate Initiative’s portable earthquake-proof house that can be carried to mountainous areas on porter back. Continue reading

May 27, 2015 4:06 pm | Comments (0)

Tags: | | | | | | |

Colonel Jimmy Roberts and the first ascent of Mera Peak

Mera Peak was first climbed 62 years ago to the day

Sixty-two years ago to the day Colonel Jimmy Roberts made the first ascent of Mera Peak with the Sherpa Sen Tenzing. This little postscript to the first ascent of Everest in 1953 may have been the birth of commercial trekking. Continue reading

May 20, 2015 4:07 pm | Comments (1)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | |

Aconcagua and a first taste of expedition life: an extract from my book

Aconcagua isn't the most impressive-looking mountain from base camp at Plaza de Mulas

It’s time to update you once more on current progress with the book I’m threatening to publish about my journey from simple hill walker to Everest summiteer. Here’s the latest, along with a teaser from the book to try and convince you to buy it. Continue reading

May 13, 2015 4:03 pm | Comments (5)

Tags: | | | | | | |

As climbers wring their hands about Everest, Nepal quietly rebuilds

A queue of climbers in the Khumbu Icefall two days before an earthquake rocked Nepal

While the climbing community were busy bickering about Everest, the Nepalese were quietly rebuilding their lives after the devastating earthquake. As trustee of a development charity I was given a privileged insight into what they’ve been up to. Continue reading

May 6, 2015 5:03 pm | Comments (3)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | |

Nepal earthquake: who should I donate to?

At least 37 international search and rescue teams are on the ground – more than 545 people

People have been asking me to recommend a charity to help victims of the Nepal earthquake. It’s a difficult question, because it depends on personal preferences and priorities, but I know a little about Nepal, and though I’m no expert on disaster response, I’ll do my best to answer. Continue reading

April 29, 2015 4:09 pm | Comments (5)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | | |

Remembering the avalanche: a tribute to all Sherpas

Dorje Khatri, sirdar with the expedition operator Madison Mountaineering, who died in the avalanche on Everest last year (Photo: Edita Nichols)

There’s no better way to mark the anniversary of the avalanche on Everest last year than by remembering one of the Sherpas who died. Here’s a post that is a tribute not just to him, but to all Sherpas who work the high mountains. Continue reading

April 22, 2015 4:09 pm | Comments (2)

Tags: | | | | | | | |

Trailblazing up Monte Sirente

Selfie of me and Edita high up on Monte Sirente. As you can see, she looks absolutely fine while I look exhausted (Photo: Edita Nichols).

Our third trip to the Apennine Mountains took us to an area we hadn’t visited before. Our ascent of Monte Sirente was a good day out in the mountains, with some tough trail breaking through deep snow and an exhilarating climb. Continue reading

April 15, 2015 4:01 pm | Comments (1)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | |

5 steps to taking better mountain photographs

Taking good maintain photographs takes patience, perseverance and creativity. I probably would have deleted this one before I even took it.

I sometimes get asked for photography advice, including detailed questions about what equipment to use, tips on exposure, focal length and aperture size. I’ve answered the question a few times now, and in doing so have managed to distil my advice into just 5 easy steps. Continue reading

April 11, 2015 5:06 pm | Comments (11)

Tags: |

Tilman’s Everest south side reconnaissance

The approach to Everest Base Camp (bottom left), with the West Shoulder in the centre of the photo and the black summit of Everest peeping up behind it. Changtse is the mountain in the background on the left, and the Lho La is below it. Tilman and Houston didn't spot the gap in front of the West Shoulder where the Khumbu Icefall spills down, forming a route into the Western Cwm.

This is part 5 of a series of posts about early tourism in Nepal. For the previous posts see part 1: How Nepal first came to open its doors to tourism, part 2: Bill Tilman: Nepal’s very first trekking tourist, … Continue reading

April 8, 2015 4:07 pm | Comments (4)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

Farewell Samuli Mansikka, the fearless Finn

Samuli Mansikka (1978 - 2015) on Cholatse with three of his 8000m peaks - Everest, Lhotse and Makalu - behind him

It’s time once again to pay tribute to a friend who has sadly lost his life in the mountains. Last week Samuli Mansikka stood on the summit of Annapurna, his tenth 8000m peak, but he did not return. Continue reading

April 2, 2015 8:00 am | Comments (3)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | |

A fascinating journey across Tibet

Tibet has changed much, but the prayer flags, azure skies, wide open spaces and snow-capped mountains will always remain

The more I learn about Tibet, the less I understand. I’ve travelled there three times on expeditions and found it a weird and fascinating place. I was keen to read Race to Tibet, a new historical novel by indie author Sophie Schiller. Continue reading

March 25, 2015 5:29 pm | Comments (2)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | |

Poo in the Everest region: is it such a big problem?

This campsite at Advanced Base Camp on Everest's north side has a toilet tent where waste is packed out, but at higher camps it's a case of burying it under a rock

Recently I wrote a satirical piece about a fictional washroom at Everest Base Camp as a reaction to more sensationalised media reporting about Everest. But the reports contained a grain of truth that I intend to fertilise in this post. Continue reading

March 18, 2015 4:03 pm | Comments (0)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | | | |

Battle of the blockbusters: Herzog’s Annapurna vs. Tichy’s Cho Oyu

Ice axes at the ready. Which is greater: Cho Oyu by Herbert Tichy, or Annapurna by Maurice Herzog?

I’ve recently finished reading Cho Oyu by Herbert Tichy, an account of the first ascent of Cho Oyu in 1954. The book is hard to get hold of, but it’s as good as Maurice Herzog’s Annapurna, regarded by many as one the best mountaineering books ever written. Continue reading

March 11, 2015 4:06 pm | Comments (7)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

Tilman’s expedition to the Annapurnas

Annapurna II (left) and Annapurna IV (right): Tilman's team had a go at the latter, but one by one they gave up

The great mountain explorer Bill Tilman made three treks in Nepal in 1949 and 1950. His second to the Annapurna region made him one of the first to explore an area which now sees thousands of tourists completing one of the world’s best known treks. Continue reading

March 4, 2015 4:02 pm | Comments (3)

Tags: | | | | | | | | | | | | |

BREAKING NEWS: Flushing Toilet To Be Built At Everest Base Camp

This toilet is actually on Mount Kenya, but who cares (Picture Credit: Wankentoss New Agency)

There is now so much human excrement on Mount Everest experts predict that by 2015 it will reach the Moon. Luckily Nepal’s government has announced it will be building a new state-of-the-art toilet at Everest Base Camp. Continue reading

March 3, 2015 8:22 pm | Comments (15)

Tags: | | | |

Please help me raise money for education in Nepal ...

sponsor me for CHANCEIn my spare time I am a trustee of CHANCE, a UK charity who strive to give young people in Nepal better opportunities in life by providing teacher training, and inspiring them to take part in the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award.

If you enjoy this blog it would be fantastic if you can give me a big thumbs up by making a donation. You can also help by getting sponsored for an event or travelling to Nepal with their partner trekking agency. Here are the other ways you can help.

If you prefer not to then that's OK too. I enjoy going on expeditions and writing the blog, and will continue to do both of them anyway.

Get new blog posts by email

Enter your email address

Latest comments

  1. “[…] Most people think the scary thing about Lukla is the length of the runway, which slopes steeply upwards to …”

  2. “Thanks for providing an update, Ian. I'm glad you got your cover eventually, and sorry to hear it was so …”

  3. “[…] I’ve talked a little about Edward Fitzgerald’s hapless efforts to climb Aconcagua in a previous post. Although his team …”


The Wrath of the Turquoise Goddess by Mark Horrell, available as an ebook here