My trip to Nepal remains among my favourite of all time, and sits right at the very top of my want-to-go-back-to list. Each year that passes makes me itch a little more. I revisit my photos often as they trigger an array of memories and feelings. I’ve posted quite a few from Nepal over the months on this site, so here are a few more which take my fancy, and I hope interest you as well.
The image at top is of the unmistakable Macchapuchare, also known as Mt. Fishtail. Nicknamed the Matterhorn of the Himalayas, it is one of the singly most beautiful mountains on the planet, in this blogger’s humble opinion. At 6,997m high, it isn’t among the highest peaks of the Annapurna Massif (many of which tower well into the high 7,000s and even top 8,000m), but its prominence is so striking and dramatic that it remains an icon for all those who have visited this region of Nepal. I couldn’t get enough of it.
Here, early-morning side-lighting shortly after sunrise casts horizontal shadows across a rural landscape. These little stone cottages made a lovely foreground to add a sense of place to the dramatic sweep of the Annapurna Range at back. The vista includes (from left to right) Annapurna South, Annapurna I (at 8,091m barely visible behind the peak of Annapurna South), Hiun Chuli, Annapurna III and Gandarbha Chuli (tucked into the saddle between Hiun Chuli and Macchapuchare), Macchapuchare, Annapurna IV, Annapurna II and Lamjung Himal. Note that the Annapurnas are listed not according to proximity or geographical succession, but altitude, with I being the highest and IV being the lowest (not that at 7,525m we would call Annapurna IV ‘small’).
Here, early morning dawnlight catches on the south face of Annapurna South. At 7,219m, Annapurna South is one of the smaller peaks in the Annapurna Himal, but its presence is a constant during the 10-day Annapurna Base Camp trek, never absent for more than a few hours at a time while behind an inconvenient shoulder. Burning like vapourize copper in the angular light of a rising sun, the fierce edges of a mountain scoured by millenia of wind, ice and crustal uplift can be seen in dramatic contrast. Poking into the jetstream, high-altitude winds whip past the peak tearing off a tail of snow and ice granules which hang like a blowing scarf in the morning air. Up close, the sound is audible as the roar of powerful engines, but at the distance I took this shot, the calm quiet of a village dawn belied the fierce battle taking place among the jagged heights.
(click to see detail)
This next photo for me captures three things that make my heart ache just a little. The first is the beautiful north-east face of Annapurna South (and across to Annapurna I at right) as viewed across the dry basin of the Annapurna Sanctuary. It remains one of the most beautiful, spectacular locations I have ever stood in in my entire (and moderately well-travelled) life. The second is the marvellous blue sky which accompanied us for most of the trip and made both the trekking and the photography so memorable. The third are the prayer flags, so symbolic and such a powerful marker in my memory for that place, as well as being a visual feast with their bright colours, and their ethereal spirituality in the face of such intense and tangible physical beauty.
Back in the lowlands, and I snapped this rather undramatic shot of the terraced fields which are the only way in which villagers can farm a living out of the steep-sided valleys. Among the foothills of the first few days of the trek, before the landscape gave way to rock and glacial moraine, these terraces were the main geographical marker and the symbol of a hardy resilience that the mountain peoples of the Himalayas have had to adopt. I enjoyed the play of afternoon light across the terraces, and wish I could have done more exploration of them, both on foot and with my camera.
Perched in a village on a rideline overlooking Annapurna South and Hiun Chuli, the name of the teahouse at centre is “Nice View Lodge”. Talk about understatements…
(click to see detail)
Trekking into the Annapurna Sanctuary, one of the joys was that after five days with the mountains slowly getting larger, but appearing largely unchanged in terms of appearance, suddenly we had come around behind the peaks we had been watching during our uphill slog, and they appeared totally different. While not the tallest mountain in the Sanctuary, Annapurna South viewed from the north-east was certainly one of the most beautiful of the peaks we saw, with a certain elegance to its primal and inhospitable face. I loved shooting these mountains in the strong sunlight against a blue sky, as it cast the details of the rock and ice into sharp contrast and allowed for some lovely textured detail.
(click image to see larger)
And back to the prayer flags. I really can’t get enough of them. I took a series of shots of Annapurna I viewed through the tangle of prayer flags at the shrine above Annapurna Base Camp South, and the combination of vast mountain (8,091m), blue sky, white ice and coloured flags was spine-chilling in its impact at the time. I could post these images all day long…
Nepal is a spectacularly beautiful country, with photographic surprises around every corner, and so much to explore. As you can see from the amount I post & talk about it, it impacted me deeply. I am still plotting my return…