• November 12, 2013

Notes From the Road: Climbing the Himalaya

Aaron Huey

Notes From the Road take us into the field with photographers at work and lets us experience, in their own words and pictures, assignments in progress.

So this is how it works sometimes:

Phone rings. Photo editor says, “Can you leave for Everest Base Camp tomorrow or the next day?” You of course say, “Yes.” Then start to cancel everything you had planned for the next 35 days and start to buy gear and pack bags.

That was this summer, and now my life is wrapped around this story for a year. We are halfway right now. All of this is good. Better than good. It’s what I live for.

Some of this is supposed to be a secret, so I can’t give it all away, but I can tell you that I’m on assignment, on my second of three trips trip to the Khumbu in Nepal, high up in the Himalaya.

To be honest with you, I’m a little out of my element. I’m a rock climber (almost 20 years now) and very comfortable on ropes; I love heights, I love exposure and technical climbing, but this kind of ice-covered pain I have stumbled into is new to me. But when the red phone on my desk (that goes straight to HQ) rings and they say, “Ice and snow,” I say, “How high?” and then I jump. Because that’s what we do. Comfort zones are long gone. The world is elastic, and so we shape-shift and push up hard against the edges and begin the work that leads to the images you see.

Each assignment requires a huge leap to see and think differently, and in this case, it is requiring me to not just think differently, but also to become something different as well. Beside pushing my mind into places it has rarely been, the mountains are changing me physically, reshaping my body as we climb day in and out.

On this trip I happened to arrive just before the Indian cyclone last month, and the places I was supposed to visit are now covered in two or three meters of fresh snow. Dangerous. Lots of people stranded, some killed, and many mountains deemed unclimbable. But I know what I need and where to find it, and so I walk into the belly of this white whale and begin the suffer-fest.

I’ll be going above 20,000 feet a few times to make images, and I have great traveling companions in Danuru and Panuru Sherpa, two of the best climbers on the face of the Earth, with a combined 28 Everest summits between them. So I know they can drag my body off of the mountain if need be. (Don’t worry, Mom!)

Now back to the endless trudging through ice and snow. You can join me by following the journey on Instagram (@argonautphoto). Or come swing by Ama Dablam Base Camp. I’ll be in the yellow tent!

Photographer Aaron Huey recently returned from an assignment for National Geographic in the Himalaya. Over the coming days we’ll be reporting on his adventures as he discovers the joys and pains of high altitude photography while surrounded by snow and ice. You can see all of Aaron’s Notes From the Road here. You can also follow his journey on Instagram (@argonautphoto).

There are 32 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Paulina Pérez
    December 6, 2013

    Wow, gooooood

  2. LisaB
    December 5, 2013

    We were trekking in the Himalayas in Bhutan at the same time–we were starting out the day the typhoon hit, and decided to wait a few days and try again, given how far the snow line had dropped. A week later, the high passes were still impassable. We heard from the guides coming down that at least one group was lost–they were above 14,000 feet when the snow came down, and their supply ponies couldn’t reach them. I’m curious to hear what you heard about people who didn’t make it. I developed HAPE at Jomolhari base camp and had to get down fast, so thank you for your photos. They make me feel like I got to stay and cross those passes.

  3. Camen
    November 20, 2013

    Buon Cammino, seguirò la tua avventura! =)

  4. ketan mehetre
    November 19, 2013

    i like that chanal forever

  5. Irfan Ahmed
    November 17, 2013

    wonderful journey my dream but your a lucky guy got the chance wish you good luck. be safe

  6. marge Prothman
    November 17, 2013

    Loved all the comments

  7. DocAnchovy
    November 17, 2013

    I’ve done allot of the Pacific Northwest “walk-ups” and a bit of peak bagging in the Sierra’s and Rockies but, THIS is climbing mountains!

  8. ahmed
    November 16, 2013


  9. Hali
    November 16, 2013

    I look forward to reading the rest of this and it sounds like we were in Nepal at the same time! I was there from Oct 14-28th, only I ended up doing Annapurna Sanctuary up to Annapurna Base Camp… so much fun! 🙂 I’m sure you had a great time!

  10. uttara Ghosh
    November 16, 2013

    yes..absolute great read…can never ever do it and its like being there…Ive always been awestruck by the Mighty Mountains having seen them from very far at childhood..what also strikes me as rather surprising is that there is an air route in India which flies by the mountains for about 15 minutes as far as I can remember..but very few are interested…I had the opportunity twice and I just stck my nose on the window panes and stared as long as I could imagining……!!!

  11. JUDY
    November 15, 2013

    GREAT read.

  12. Rosemarie
    November 14, 2013

    Inspiring! As one who is averse to risk I will live through you! Looking forward to reading more!

  13. abc
    November 14, 2013

    all d best

  14. Sudhanshu
    November 14, 2013

    your write up is very inspiring… nd it jst cant get better when ur hobby becomes ur profession…

  15. Sandra
    November 13, 2013

    Good luck awesome and good advance

  16. not disclosed
    November 13, 2013

    Good Luck with the rest of your journey! think its amazing how you get ready to leave on such short notice.

  17. not disclosed
    November 13, 2013

    this summer my friend (then almost ten) and I (nearly 13) hiked to ABC. It was incredible and we made great friends with the “porter uncles”. Except for the first day we were always with them and arrived at the lodge an hour ahead 🙂

  18. David Johnston
    November 13, 2013

    This is awesome! Very inspiring and thrilling!

  19. Soumi Biswas
    November 13, 2013

    waiting to hear and see more

  20. Jonti
    November 13, 2013

    It’s just amazing to see your dedication……. It’s true, true adventure lies within us, we are out of our comfort zones, we pack bags ant down we are on the road not taken…… I understand your determination and the danger you have to fight….. And in the 8000ers, things become just more tricky……. All the best!

  21. Sergio
    November 13, 2013

    You are a example and you show what its to love your profession. Congratulation.

  22. hafsha
    November 13, 2013

    reading your blog feels great..takes u away 4m the munadne-ity of life….waiting for more to pour in from you..

  23. Pretty Sipayung
    November 12, 2013

    Himalaya!!! I’ll come someday!!!! Everest is the goal!!!! 😀
    By the way, how to join National Geographic? How to become one of NatGeo photographer?? Thank You so much…

  24. Kasun
    November 12, 2013

    My Dream… Hike Himalaya

  25. Ruben Velasquez
    November 12, 2013

    Estas imágenes son maravillosas ya me quisiera estar ahí y tomas algunas fotos memorables

  26. Lisa Alba
    November 12, 2013

    Aaron, your life never fails to amaze me. You never seem to hesitate, jumping into every new experience that life flings in your general direction. I envy your fearlessness.

  27. Shabnam Shahzad
    November 12, 2013

    This is really adventurous waiting to read the other part

  28. Rich D
    November 12, 2013

    Exciting & beautiful!!

  29. Haris Inam
    November 12, 2013

    well after reading this, I would love to see pictures of Nanga perbat.

  30. Adrian Soon
    November 12, 2013

    What does it takes to be a photographer for National Geographic? What has to be in your resume?

  31. Diane Martinez
    November 12, 2013

    Fantastic, fascinating, and gorgeous pictures too.

  32. MARGIE
    November 12, 2013


Add Your Comments

All fields required.