The Tale of Machhapuchhre

Machhapuchhre or the Fishtail is also known as the virgin peak because no human has ever conquered its summit. There are many stories and folklore in Nepal dedicated to the mountain, however, very few of them clarify why the peak has never been climbed.


Machhapuchhre standing at 6,993 meters is one of the small peaks of Nepal. It is popularly known for its majestic and unadulterated beauty, and the unique geography of its summit which gave its name ‘Fishtail’.

machhapuchhreThe peak lies just opposite the Annapurna massif and is closely connected to the Hindu God Shiva. It is believed among the Hindus that Shiva lives atop the mountain hence the peak is forbidden from climbing.

The trekkers doing the Annapurna Base Camp Trek must pass through the Machhapuchhre Base Camp. The peak from the base camp is up close. It is also seen from Pokhara, a tourist city located 23 km away from the mountain. The peak dominates almost every photo taken at the Pokhara due to its promising visibility.


It is generally believed that the peak hasn’t yet been climbed because it holds an important religious position among the Gurung inhabitants of the region.

One popular story goes as such;

In fact, it was a member of that expedition, one Wilfrid Noyce, who came the closest anybody ever has to the summit on a 1957 expedition. The king of Nepal had asked Noyce to respect Hindu religious customs and not set foot on the summit. He and his climbing companion, A.D.M. Cox, turned back 150 feet short of the summit. This expedition produced the only climbing record of this mountain, a very rare book called Climbing the Fish’s Tail.

However, the reason for not being able to scale the peak is more personal than religious. Col. Jim Roberts, a British Gurkha officer who led both the reconnaissance (1956) and expedition (1957) teams to the mountain, had to retreat just 45 meters short of the summit due to heavy snowfall.

Dr. Harka Gurung points out,

Col. Roberts happened to be Military Attache at the British Embassy in Kathmandu and it is not difficult to imagine that his sentimental advice to the Foreign Ministry (that handled expeditions) regarding Machhapuchhre’s sanctity influenced the fate of the mountain. ref

Dr. Harka, along with other stakeholders of tourism industry, believe that the mountain should be opened for the climbing, whilst more employment can be generated.

In his memoirs, Col. Roberts mentions,

So Machhapuchhre became for me the ideal mountain, a personal possession yet out of this world, unattainable but mine by illogic right, brooding over a country and a people which will shape the rest of my life.

The Red Panda

The Red Panda is the most elusive of the wild animals found in the world. A predominant inhabitant of the Himalayas, Red Panda has been listed as the most endangered species due to major loss of its habitat and human encroachment. It is one of the most protected wild species in Nepal, India & China.


Habitat Map
Habitat Map

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ailurus fulgens
TYPE: Mammals
DIET: Omnivore
SIZE: Head and body, 20 to 26 in; tail, 12 to 20 in
WEIGHT: 12 to 20 lbs

The Red Panda or Red-bear cat is a mammal of Ailuridae family found mostly in the Eastern Himalayas. Almost 38% of the total population is found inside Nepal. It has reddish-brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs; it is slightly larger than a domestic cat.

It lives in the trees, feeds mainly on bamboo. Due to its omnivore nature, it seldom feeds on bird eggs, birds, and insects. It is a solitary animal, hence, its sightings is one of the rarest among the entire wildlife.

It has been listed under the Endangered species by IUCN, due to its dwindling population. Human encroachment has been the major cause for its habitat loss.

Habitat & Breeding

They reside in the rainy and high-altitude forests, similar to Giant Pandas, in the mountains of Nepal and northern Myanmar (Burma), as well as in central China.

They spend most of their lives in trees and even sleep aloft. When foraging, they are most active at night as well as in the gloaming hours of dusk and dawn.

Red pandas are known to have a sweet tooth for bamboo, however, they feed on fruits, acorns, roots and eggs as well.

They are obscure animals except when mating. Females generally give births in the spring and summer, typically one to four cubs at a time. Young red pandas remain in their nests for about 90 days, and are solely nurtured by mother pandas.


  • Only about 10,000 Red Pandas are estimated to be living in the wild.
  • China has the largest known population of Red Pandas. About 42% of the entire population is found inside the protected regions of China.
  • Even though they were placed in the Racoon and Bear family before, the extensive research has proved they are unique species and have since been placed in the Ailuridae family.
  • Red Panda is the only surviving member of the Ailuridae family.
  • There are over 86 protected areas inside China, India, Myanmar and Nepal dedicated to the conservation of the Red Panda.
  • There are only two recognized species of Red Panda, namely; Ailurus fulgens fulgens and Ailurus fulgens styani.
  • Red pandas have a long gestation period (roughly 135 days) for an animal that weighs only 11 pounds at maturity.


Island Vs Mera Peak

Nepal is an abode of Himalayas. It’s gifted with some of the most majestic mountains in the world. Out of the 14 Eight-Thousander peaks, 7 remains in Nepal. Along with these mighty mountains, there are 100s of smaller peaks which caters the enthusiastic climbers. These can be cheaper than climbing the Everest and can be completed with ease.

Island Peak and Mera Peak are the two most popular smaller peaks in Nepal. These two mountains attract the most amount of climbers in the country. The climb may account for a day or two, hence, it easier to undertake small peak climbing. An expert as well as an amateur climber  can complete the climb without the need of any expedition.

Here are some holistic differences between the two to help you decide better.

Island Peak

Island Peak or Imja Tse is a small peak located at the Khumbu region. It measures 6,189 meters (20,305 ft). It was named Island Peak by Eric Shipton’s party in 1951, since it appears as an island in a sea of ice when viewed from Dingboche.

An Alpine PD peak, you need to have proper technical skills to ascent the peak. Cramponing, harnessing and ice-axing is essential. A Sherpa guide will always be there to assist you during the climb. Most of  the trail encounters trekking, however, the last 400-500 m section requires climbing through snow and rocks.

The ascent is generally started during early morning. Around 2 am, you get up and ready to tackle the climb with your ice-axe, ropes and head-lamp. You may reach the summit around 11 am-12 pm in the morning. The rest of the time will be spent descending all the way to the Chhukung village, which offers better tea-house for lodging.

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Mera Peak

Mera Peak at 6,476 meters (21,247 ft) is known as the highest trekking peak in the world. An Alpine PD peak, it is technically superior than most smaller peaks in the region. it is located in the Hinku valley of northeastern Nepal. It contains 3 main summits. Most climbers take on Mera North, the highest of them all.

You would need proper technical skills to ascent the peak. Cramponing, harnessing and ice-axing will be equally essential. A proper  logistical support and qualified Sherpa guides will always be there to assist you. From the summit, 5 of the major peaks will easily be visible, including Mount Everest.

Most of the trail accounts for trekking. The final 600-700 meters ascent requires climbing through snow, rocks and ice. The ascent starts early morning. You may reach the summit by noon and back to Lower Base Camp by the evening.

More on Mera Peak Climb

Ascent Profile & Logistics

Mera and Island Peak
Mera and Island Peak

Both the trip starts and ends at Lukla. The commute to Lukla is facilitated by the domestic flights. You’d generally trek 10-12 days and keep 2 days for climbing. A spare summit day is kept in case you aren’t able to summit the previous day due to bad weather.

Island Peak’s summit is just 287 meters lesser in height than the Mera Peak’s summit. Both requires a good amount of ice-axing, alpine style of climbing through ropes and cramponing. As the summit generally lasts only a day, the lengthy climb may prove to be a fatiguing experience for the most climbers.

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Ama Dablam: 3rd Most Popular Peak

Not many of you know, Ama Dablam is the thirst most popular expedition peak of Nepal. Even though, the Six-Thousander peak doesn’t boast great height of the likes Everest, Makalu and Lhotse, it is still preferred by the climbers willing to tackle its technical difficulties.


Ama Dablam Base Camp
Ama Dablam Base Camp

Ama Dablam 6,812 meters is a Himalaya peak located in the Khumbu valley of Nepal. The phrase literally translates to “Mother’s Necklace” in the local dialect.

First climbed in 1961, many expeditions have been led since the commercialization of mountaineering. Moreover, it is globally known for its aesthetics. The sheer beauty of the mountain has seduced international companies to use its image for their logo or brand, namely; INVESCO Groups and Aqua Minerale (Russia).

Bear Grylls became the youngest Briton to climb Ama Dablam in 1997.


It is one of the most sought expeditions in Nepal. The full-length expedition may last well over a month, basically 32 days. The Southwest ridge remains open throughout the Sporing, Autumn and Winter seasons.

Spring Autumn Winter
US $400 US $400 US $200

You start from the Lukla, and trek slowly through the Khumbu region up to Dingboche. The trekking prior to climbing helps to make your body accustomed to the higher altitude. From Dingboche, you make your way towards the Ama Dablam Base Camp.

  • The climb may last around 15 days. You’ll be accompanied by a Sherpa Guide, liaison officer, porters and other staffs to help establish ropes and routes, prepare meals and set up camps throughout the peak.
  • Climbers generally setup 3 different camps. Camp III is located just below the hanging glacier of the summit.
  • From Base Camp, you can approach for the Advanced Base Camp at 5,400 meters. The route leads north towards the Camp I. There are four or five tent platforms.
  • From Camp I, you approach for the Camp II. The trail follows through the mixed grounds towards the Yellow Tower, a 15 meter pitch, just below Camp II. Camp II at 5,900 meters has very limited tent space (three or four tent platforms) and is extremely exposed. It is sometimes only used to store equipment dump, with expeditions choosing to climb up to the Camp III in a single push.
  • From Camp II, the route leads through snows, ridges and gully towards the Camp III 6,300. It’s located directly below the hanging glacier of the summit.
  • The push for summit is made through the snows and ice. You continue to skirt the peak on the right, and then move west to gain a small snowfield below the Burgschrund. After Burgschrund is crossed, the climb heads directly to the ice crest. This is followed by a magnificent climb to the summit.


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From Alps to Himalaya

Mountain is undoubtedly the most beautiful creation of nature. But, did you know, the mighty rock formation took millions of years and countless geological changes to create?

According to the modern theory of plate tectonics, its formation is a result of a continental collision or orogeny. Scientists believe, Appalachian mountains are the oldest mountains in the world. The rock dated are between 1.1 billion and 540 million years old.

There are various mountain range systems on Earth which were formed at different times and in different conditions. The most popular among them are the two systems; Pacific ring of fire and Alpide belt. Mountains range systems other than these account for the Arctic Cordillera, Appalachians, the Urals, the Scandinavian mountains, Altai mountains and Hijaz mountains.

Longest Mountain Ranges
Longest Mountain Ranges


One of the youngest mountain ranges, it covers only 0.4% of the world mass and yet it is the 2nd least explored regions in the world.

Himalaya spans 2,400 km (1,500 mi) from Nanga Parbat on the western front to Hindu Kush range in the east. Mount Everest at 8,850 meters is the highest point of the greater Himalaya range. On the western front, the part of Himalaya is known as Karakoram ranges, which includes; K2, Gasherbrum, Nanga Parbat and others.

Interesting Facts

  • Himalaya is the 3rd largest deposit of ice and snow in the world. There are approximately 15,000 glaciers located throughout the range, which store about 12,000 km3 (3,000 cubic miles) of fresh water.
  • It is the youngest among the many mountains in the world. The formation of Himalaya dates back only 70 million years, whereas, Appalachian mountains are 1.1 billion – 540 million years old.
  • The myth of Yeti, an abominable snowman in English literature, is related to the Himalaya. According to the folklore, the Yeti is revered as the God by many while other regard it as the mountain guards or wild beast.
  • Geologists have performed tests over years to prove that The Himalayas are geologically alive. The mammoth mountain range is said to be moving approximately 20 mm every year!
  • It spans 2,400 km and covers 6 different countries of South Asia.


The Alps are one of the mountain ranges. Located in Europe, they stretch approximately 1,200 km (750 mi) across eight different EU regions; Austria and Slovenia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, France, Italy and Monaco.

The formation of Alps started 300 million years ago, therefore, Alps are known to be the oldest mountains ever formed after the Appalachian. The alpine region holds a cultural significance to many Europeans. The traditional culture of farming, woodworking and cheese making still exists in the Alpine belts.

Interesting Facts

  • The earliest conquests of Alps were made by the Armies (Romans), pilgrims, and traders.
  • Most of the snow/ice Glaciers in the world are found in the 1,200 km long Alp ranges of Europe.
  • Otzi, a 5,000 yrs old mummified corpse, was found in Alps.
  • 14 million people live in Alp regions, and more than 120 million tourists visit these regions every year.
  • It has been the source of minerals and crystals, including; Copper, gold, iron, cinnabar, quartz and amethyst.
  • It is suggested that between 40,000 to 80,000 men died in WWI due to avalanches on the Alps.

14 Eight-Thousanders of the World!

The Eight-Thousanders are the mountain peaks which are above 8,000 meters in height. There are only 14 such peaks in the world, and all of those are located in the Great Himalayas & Karakoram of South Asia.

The first recorded successful ascent of an eight-thousander was by the French climbers, Maurice Herzog and Louis Lachenal, of Annapurna on June 3, 1950.

Himalaya/Karakoram spans 2,400 km (1,500 mi) from Nanga Parbat on the western front to Hindu Kush range in the east. A splendor and pride of many nations, they are the most sought destinations in the world for adventure travel. Mount Everest at 8,850 meters is the highest point of the greater Himalaya range.

List of Eight-Thousanders

Peak Height Location
Mount Everest 8,848 m Nepal, China
K2 8,611 m Pakistan, China
Kanchenjunga 8,586 m Nepal, India
Lhotse 8,516 m Nepal, China
Makalu 8,485 m Nepal, China
Cho Oyu 8,201 m Nepal, China
Dhaulagiri 8,167 m Nepal
Manaslu 8,163 m Nepal
Nanga Parbat 8,126 m Pakistan
Annapurna I 8,091 m Nepal
Gasherbrum I 8,080 m Pakistan, China
Broad Peak 8,051 m Pakistan, China
Gasherbrum II 8,035 m Pakistan, China
Shishapangma 8,027 m China

Himalaya/Karakoram Facts

  • They are the 3rd largest deposit of ice and snow in the world. There are approximately 15,000 glaciers located throughout these ranges, which stores about 12,000 km3 (3,000 cubic miles) of fresh water.
  • These are the youngest among the many mountains in the world. The formation of Himalaya dates back only 70 million years, whereas, Appalachian mountainswere formed almost 300 millions years ago.
  • The myth of Yeti, an abominable snowman in English literature, is related to the Himalaya. According to the folklore and locals, the Yeti is a revered as the God by many while other regard it as the mountain guards or wild beast.
  • Geologists have performed tests over years to prove that The Himalayas are geologically alive. The mammoth mountain range is said to be moving approximately 20 mm every year!
  • They span over 2,400 km and covers 6 different countries of South Asia.