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Hike the Hills: A Great Opportunity to Support US Trails

We would like to recognize the great work of the American Hiking Society and all their partner organizations during this week’s “Hike the Hill” event in Washington, DC.  In addition to spending the week advocating for critical federal funds to … Continue reading

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REDD Panel discussion at the D.C Bar Conference Center

Last week TMI participated in a panel discussion at the D.C Bar Conference Center on the status of REDD in climate change negotiations and national policy. The event covered a range of related subtopics, some of which we will be … Continue reading

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A Solution To Hunger… Starting With A Seed

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  $250 a year.  That’s the average annual income in many Himalayan villages in Nepal.  Hunger and malnutrition are continual companions.  Health care is non-existent.  Thus, infant and childhood mortality is high; those that survive are often stunted by years … Continue reading

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Protected: Reflections on the Woodlands Homesteading Festival

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Great Mountain Trails of the World

Recently a number of us at TMI have been talking about the great iconic long-distance trails of the mountain world.  The obvious ones include the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Great Inca Road (or Gran Ruta Inca), and … Continue reading

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The Mountain Institute on Camera

In a series of short films made last year, 25 year-old filmmaker Daniel Byers represented mountain people and environments in the Andes, Himalayas and Appalachians with depth and style. While two of the films take a big picture look at … Continue reading

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Greetings from Kathmandu

Happy New Year 2012 to all:

I am more of a grog rather than a blog type of guy, but here is the first missive from 2012. To celebrate and reflect on this time of endings and new beginnings, yesterday I went out to Pashupatinath temple east of the Kathmandu Airport on one of the clearest days on record. This is the birthplace of Lord Shiva and one of Nepal’s most sacred and powerful sites. It is a place where Hindu’s cremate their relatives, preparing them to pass from this life into the next one, surrounded by hashish smoking, ash-covered Hindu ascetics. From the cremation grounds along banks the sacred Bagmati, looking east one could the twin peaks of Guari Shankar, and nearly all the way to Mount Everest, nearly 90 miles away. I was reminded how dependent we are on these magnificent mountains, for their life giving waters, for their forests that clear the too often polluted air we breathe, for the herbs and forest plants that provide incomes for tens of thousands of the mountain farmers, for the myths and legends that help us interpret our lives, and for awe that these mountains inspire, even 90 miles away. At TMI, these conservation and development issues are at the heart of our mission and we try to address every day through protection and sustainable use of the mountain resources.

This is a time of ending and new beginning for me as well. In 10 days, I leave Nepal after almost 16 years and reinvent myself as Director of Himalayan Programs but from a base in Washington DC. With some fear and trembling, I look forward to this new incarnation, stepping back from the day to day management of our programs and gradually handing things over to the TMI Nepal team, as they take on new and increased duties. This will free me up somewhat to explore new and emerging program options that will help us complete our mission such as using carbon financing to support our conservation and livelihood programs, here in the Himalayas and perhaps in the Andes and North America as well. It is an exciting time to be going back for me and for TMI, to become part of the emerging TMI Headquarters team, working with our new Executive Director, Andrew Taber.  While we can rest a while and enjoy the view on this clear day, we still have much to do and future blogs will describe some of these efforts in more detail. In the meantime, wishing you, your families and all mountain people all the best for a healthy, prosperous and peaceful 2012.

Brian Peniston
Nepal Program Director
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Protected: Dunkard Creek ‘Reflections’ Exhibit

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Glaciers are melting, and we’re taking action!

The mountain world is changing faster than any of us could have imagined: these changes threaten all of us who live downstream. Glaciers are melting, rainfall patterns are changing, and the world’s most important fresh water supplies are endangered.

Starting next week, The Mountain Institute – in partnership with the National Science Foundation, USAID, the US State Department, and other sponsors – will begin a month-long series of workshops and an expedition to Imja Lake, a newly-formed, potentially dangerous, glacial lake near Mount Everest. We’re going to the field and talking to local people in order to research and educate.

We’re bringing a team of over 30 scientists, engineers, photographers, and journalists to the field to exchange knowledge with local people about monitoring and controlling glacial lakes. We’ll evaluate the danger of Imja, and determine how to control it so it can supply fresh water safely and reliably to downstream communities for drinking, irrigation, and the generation of electricity.

We have an unprecedented set of world-class scientists from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Nepal, China, Bhutan, Peru, Bolivia, Japan, the US and Europe participating in the expedition. This is the first Andean-Asian expedition in the Everest region to exchange experiences in the control and management of dangerous glacial lakes.

Our expedition to Nepal will also be the first to live-blog the entire journey, with photos, videos, and events as they happen. Members of the expedition will post updates daily, so people around the world can follow us and learn about the dangers of climate change, its effect on the mountain world, and on all of us who depend on fresh mountain water for drinking, agriculture, and daily use.

Followers will be able to ask questions of the expedition members in real-time, making this a groundbreaking project, and a fascinating blog to follow. You will also learn about the work of The Mountain Institute – the only international non-profit devoted solely to helping mountain communities create and sustain environmentally responsible development globally.

Stay tuned to the blog to watch the expedition unfold as it happens, and go ahead and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. While we’re getting rolling, watch this short video about us.


Rosie Thompson Stone 
The Mountain Insitute

Posted in Imja Lake, Nepal Expedition (2011) | 9 Comments

Himalayan Research Expeditions: Setting a very high standard

This wonderful expedition that we just took part in was organized by the trekking company called Himalayan Research Expedition (HRE) managed by Dr. Dhananjay Regmi; a friendly and organized man with a heart set on the mountains and their people. With extensive work in Himalayan research and a Ph.D. in geography, it’s no wonder the company’s slogan is “We trek for science!” However, trekking with HRE is not the traditional experience one would expect when going to high altitude for 18 days. It’s more like a five-star guided tour: always staying in nice lodges and being well cared for by the vast, well trained staff. The trekking manager on the expedition was a man named Deepak Rai and our guide was J.B. Rai, both of whom were essential to the success of our trek. The entire staff provided by HRE was extremely friendly, many spoke very good English, and they were always making sure that everyone on the trek was well fed and happy.

To give you an idea of the luxury you can expect when trekking with HRE, every morning we awoke (whether in a tent at Imja Lake or in a lodge along the way) to the soft voice of either Deepak or J.B. saying, “Good morning sir/ maam! Would you like some tea or coffee?” After going around to each of the 30-plus members of the expedition, providing their choice of coffee/ tea with milk and or sugar, they would then bring around a basin of washing water for each member. So, well rested, clean and with a hot cup of coffee, they would then provide a breakfast consisting (usually) of porridge, pancakes and eggs (or something similarly energy-loaded) before the day of trekking. Throughout the day Deepak and J.B. would make sure there were members of the support staff stationed at various places along the trail to serve tea, juice or coffee to the expedition members, and then lunch would be provided at noon (or shortly thereafter). Upon arriving at the next place we were scheduled to stay, more tea and juice would happily be given to us while we awaited our bags to be brought up by the porters. Dinner was always scheduled for 7 pm (unless requested earlier by the members of the expedition), and you could always expect a filling dinner followed by a dessert of canned fruit. The canned fruit may not sound like such a luxury dessert, but after 18 days of wandering in the Khumbu, it comes as a savory treat.

Porters from Himalayan Research Expeditions help pack for the trek.

On top of the phenomenal service provided on the trail, the time spent in Kathmandu was professionally managed by HRE as well. The hotels arranged were extremely comfortable and clean, flights were booked and confirmed per person without hesitation, and even tours of the city were managed for the whole group.

All in all the experience with HRE is one that would be hard to come across from any other trekking agency, and the unique focus of Dhananjay’s service to cater to scientists and researchers is unprecedented here in the Himalayas. Because of this focus, you can be sure that the advancement of conscious eco-tourism, community development, porter welfare, and garbage management is well taken care of so that more people can experience this wonderful, gorgeous place time and time again.
The website for HRE is Cheers!


Posted in Imja Lake, Nepal Expedition (2011) | 4 Comments