This is a photography essay of a recent trip to Nepal with Whistler-based global tour operator, Big Mountain Bike Adventures. Photography Leslie Kehmeier
& Chris Winter.
A moment captured in time in Kathmandu. Kathmandu is a very vibrant city and a feast for the senses.
The riding around the Kathmandu Valley is a perfect warm-up for the big mountains to come. It’s at significantly lower altitudes; the city sits at 1,400 meters (4,600 feet) and is surrounded by smaller mountains with lush forested pockets a world away from the city.
Nepal is famous for its colourful rectangular cloth prayer flags that are often found strung along mountain ridges and peaks in the Himalayas. Their significance? To bless the surrounding countryside. Jerome Lacote is definitely feeling the blessedness.
Riding into a village on a mountain not far from the city.
The tail end of a super fun and remote ride on the outskirts of Kathmandu where we encountered just a few other people all day, and no other bikes. We descended for another ten minutes after this photograph was taken and emerged to our waiting vans and drivers and the hectic city.
Big Mountain Bike Adventures owner Chris Winter negotiating a spectacular section of trail.
This trip brought together an interesting group of riders from all over the globe: Indonesia, France, Denmark, South Africa, Ireland, Canada and the United States. As it is with mountain bikers, by day two we became a tight group.Part I in moving pictures
Nepal has a number of busy domestic airlines that shuttle people to small runways in the Himalayas. We were very lucky to have gotten off the ground on this day, the weather was not cooperating. Fortunately the skies parted and we were able to fly between two of the world's biggest mountains, Annapurna I (8,091 meters/26,545 ft) and Dhaulagiri I (8,167/26,795 ft).
Guide Mangal, relaxing at the Muktinath temple. This site, high in the Himalaya, is a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists and a popular pilgramage for Nepalis and Indians. Mangal, is a super-guide; selfless, kind and made of steel, he’s a top contender in the annual Yak-Attack multiday Himalaya adventure race.
This is downtown Kagbeni at rush hour. A remote village located in the Upper Mustang district, if there was an actual place that was on the edge of the earth, this could be it. Walking out the door of our tea house every morning was a another glimpse into an incredible and different world.
Seven years ago the government extended the road up the Kali Gandaki river valley to remote regions that were forever only accessed by plane or foot. This road has disappointed many trekkers who come to Nepal to hike the Annapura Circuit, but it’s helped bring more income for the local communities who scrape by with very little. The new road is also handy for shuttling.
Leslie Kehmeier dropping in from the highest point of our trip, the 4577 meter (15,016 ft) Gyu La pass. Going down was sure a whole lot easier than going up.
More Kagbeni alleyways. Buildings are made of mud and rocks, and houses have stacks of firewood pilled on their roofs. The significance as it turns out is that the more wood you have, the weathier you are. Kinda like having a fancy car in your driveway, but...really different.
Jerome Lacote working his brakes with surgical precision while drifting his bike like champ, and maintaining a relaxed and focused appearance. He stomped the corner perfectly if you’re wondering.
Beginning the multiday ride down the Kali Gandaki river valley on our way out of the big mountains. This river basin contains three of the world's 14 mountains over 8,000 meters. Annapurna is seen in the distance.
Further down the Kali Gandaki valley, our trail would climb and descend the flanks of the massive mountains which gave us great views.
Danish rider Robin Peters spinning Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels on our route through a small village. According to tradition, spinning these wheels has much the same effect as reciting Buddhist prayers.
This photo was taken a minute into our ride as we left a comfortable teahouse, our accommodation the night before. The next photograph was taken while crossing the valley far below in this one.
The bridge to nowhere. Actually that’s not really true. We did eventually make it somewhere, across the river, and to a trail that awaited us on the other side, the best singletrack of the trip. 20 kilometers of it.
8167-meter Dhaulagiri in all its glory, the seventh highest mountain among the Earth’s fourteen peaks over eight thousand meters. On the ridge below the peak is the town that we stayed the night before.
Riding suspension bridges is common in Nepal. We must have ridden over a dozen different bridges over seven days. Without them access to towns and valleys would be treacherous.
More Kali Gandaki river valley further down the valley as we dropped out of the big mountains to lower altitudes and lusher landscapes. Interestingly, the Kali Gandaki is a tributary to the famous Ganges river in India.
Washing our bikes at a car wash before packing them up for flights home to reality, a new perspective and even maybe a greater appreciation of a few things.Part II in moving pictures
Would you like to see more images from this amazing journey? Click here for a 10-minute slideshow.
Interested in doing this trip yourself? Give Big Mountain Bike Adventures
a call and they can talk to you about their Himalaya Heights
all-mountain trip. Next departure is March 28. Namaste!