mountain tales

A photographer has taken stunning shots of one of the most treacherous roads in the Himalayas

Gareth Phillips has posted these images on the Instagram account of the 'New Yorker' magazine.

Traversing a part of the ancient Silk Route, the Old Hindustan Tibet Road, high up in the mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh, is suffused with history.

Now known by a more perfunctory (and decidedly less nostalgic) title, National Highway 22, the road was first laid by the British in 1850s to connect India to Tibet for trade. It lies at around 12,000 feet above sea level, surrounded by a punishing landscape of mountains, gorges, and valleys, and making for some treacherous twists and turns that are often struck by landslides and avalanches.

But there’s also a delicate beauty to it, which British photographer Gareth Phillips sought out during a recent trip to Himachal Pradesh. This past week, he took over the Instagram account of the New Yorker magazine’s photo department with a series of arresting images of one of the world’s most dangerous roads.

Phillips wrote in his first post:

"As sporadic landslides destroy sections of the road, commuters are forced to take great risks to continue their journeys. As unfortunate drivers lose control and crash over the mountainous edges, the car wrecks are found and recycled. As road workers expose their bodies to the dusty sun-scorched elements, their toil secures a temporary flow of traffic and movement"

He noted that the result is a fascinating mix of fragility, destruction, renewal, and beauty.

Here is a selection of the images from Instagram:

Morning, this is photographer Gareth Phillips posting from my recent trip to Himachal Pradesh. I will be showing images from a project I am working on about high altitude roads in India. This week, you’ll see photos of The Old Hindustan Tibet road or National Highway 22 as its now known, In the central Himalayas, which has been dubbed one of the world’s most treacherous roads due to its perilous drops, continual landslides, frequent car accidents. The road connects the former British hill station of Shimla to the Indian border post of Shipki La. It was originally part of the ancient silk route and was then developed by the British in 1850 as a way of improving trade links with Tibet and China. Although the border between India and Tibet is now closed, the road supports a constant flow of traffic and daily commutes for locals, taking trade from town to town and attracting adventure tourism. The work I am showing focuses on the elliptical nature of the road, with fragility, destruction, renewal and beauty intertwining on a daily basis. As sporadic landslides destroy sections of the road, commuters are forced to take great risks to continue their journeys. As unfortunate drivers lose control and crash over the mountainous edges, the car wrecks are found and recycled. As road workers expose their bodies to the dusty sun scorched elements, their toil secures a temporary flow of traffic and movement. Its a delicate balance that binds all that use this road with the only constant being beauty and awe for anyone who travels along this ancient and vital road. Here the road from Khab to Nako is observed with the Spiti River deep below the valley. It is close the the Shipki Pass that takes you to the border of India and Tibet. Photograph by @garethphillips_ #himachalpradesh #road #india #landslide #car #hindustantibetroad #nationalhighwaytwentytwo

A photo posted by New Yorker Photo (@newyorkerphoto) on

This article first appeared on Quartz.

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

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Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.