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    Brief History of Trekking in Nepal

    Balaram Thapa
    Balaram ThapaUpdated: Jun 28th 2023  |  Uncategorized

    Trekking was introduced in Nepal for the first time in 1965 by Colonel Jimmy Roberts, a highly decorated British Army officer and renowned explorer of mountains in the twentieth century. Colonel James Owen Merion Roberts (1916–1997), also known as "The Father of Trekking in Nepal, had a groundbreaking idea to enhance the mountaineering experience by making it easier and more accessible than during the early stages of mountaineering in Nepal.

    Evolution of Trekking Experience

    Colonel Roberts implemented various innovative ideas, such as providing readily available tents for hikers and pairing them with Sherpas for guidance in the remote and challenging terrains of the high Himalayas. This novel approach proved to be immensely successful and gained popularity among a wide range of individuals, leading to the opening of the mountaineering field to a diverse group of enthusiasts. Colonel Roberts' pioneering efforts in the field of mountaineering in Nepal drew crowds and garnered great success.

    Facilities and Services

    Today, trekking in the mountains has become a well-established phenomenon in Nepal. Travelers, both in groups and solo, trek through hills and isolated valleys in remote areas of the country, typically walking six to seven hours per day with their equipment and backpacks carried by porters or pack animals like yaks or donkeys. They continue until they reach the base camps of mountains, undertaking a journey that has evolved significantly over time.

    The Diverse Range of Trekkers

    The trekking experience now offers a wide range of destination options, and the mode of travel has been modernized to cater to the needs of contemporary travelers. This includes the availability of helicopter rides and access to healthcare facilities. Travelers are also well-catered during their trekking journey, with the convenient provision of delicious regular meals, sleeping bags, necessary equipment, and warm and comfortable tents. Additionally, trekkers often carry their own personal packs containing camera equipment, clothes, snacks, and souvenirs.

    The evolution of the trekking industry since Colonel Jimmy Roberts' humble beginnings is astounding. Unlike Roberts' early expeditions, which involved climbing without company apart from his Gorkhali companions, today's trekkers comprise a diverse range of individuals, including both young and older people.

    British Mount Everest Expedition (1940)

    Colonel Roberts, together with Bill Tilman, who is considered the first trekker of Nepal, was selected for the 1940 British Mount Everest Expedition. This was the first mountaineering expedition with the specific aim of making the first ascent of Mount Everest. The 1922 expedition was the first attempt to climb Everest and also marked the initial use of oxygen bottles in the climb. Roberts and Tilman were members of the 1940 expedition team.

    The Influence of Boris Lissnnivich

    During King Tribhuwan's visit to India, he met Boris Lissnnivich, a Russian ballet dancer who was managing a club at the time. Boris convinced the king that people would be interested in visiting Nepal and would be willing to pay for the experience, emphasizing the country's potential for profit from such visits. As a Russian émigré in Nepal, Lissnnivich went on to establish the Royal Hotel, the first hotel in the country, with the purpose of accommodating visitors. The close proximity of Nepal captivated the visitors, and this marked the beginning of Nepali tourism. The Royal Hotel and the Yak and Yeti bar became popular meeting places for climbers from the 1950s until 1971 when the Royal Hotel closed.

    The Birth of Trekking Companies

    Colonel James Roberts was the first person to recognize the appeal of trekking to tourists and took action based on this revelation. Having spent years in Nepal attached to the British residency and accompanying Tilman on his first trek, he founded "Mountain Travel" in the Kali Gandaki area in 1965. This was the first trekking company in Nepal and became a pioneering force in the adventure.

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