The Calling of the Himalayas

Story: The feeling you get when you walk off the plane in Kathmandu is one you don’t forget. A dusty, humid heat hits and hundreds of taxi drivers fight for your attention; a nervous-excited, sink-or-swim energy washes over you.

Nepal is a place that draws people back time and again. For some, it’s the mixture of Hindu and Buddhist culture; for others, it’s the calling of the mountains. It’s a country set up for adventure, whether that be summiting the world’s tallest peaks, kayaking through whitewater rapids or pilgrimaging to remote ancient Buddhist monasteries.

This was my second trip back after nine years, and I hadn’t stopped thinking about the country during that time. I’d spent nearly six months travelling all over Nepal on my first visit and I felt like I’d left a part of myself out there. It was time to retrieve it. On this trip I wanted to explore the more remote corners of the country, starting with a 22-day trek around the world’s eighth-highest mountain, Manalsu.

I slept in impossibly remote monasteries, skirted the Tibetan border, crossed high Himalayan passes, tracked Bengal tigers through jungles in the southeast and then rafted the width of the country, camping on the river beaches along the way.

I travelled with a mid-70s medium-format Mamiya 645 camera; there’s something special about shooting on film on a trip like that. Perhaps it’s the helpless inevitability and the what will be will be attitude you’re forced to adopt, or maybe even the freedom to shoot something knowing I wouldn’t see the images again for two months, if ever. Some images are made to be memories and some memories are made to be images; that’s what this series has become to me. A place that exists, but only if you go and find it.

@jonharrris