A Brief History of Trekking in Nepal

on February 5, 2017
A Brief History of Trekking in Nepal

In 1965, trekking was introduced in Nepal for the very first time by Colonel Jimmy Roberts. Lieutenant Colonel James Owen Merion Roberts (1916–1997) was one of the greatest and most prolific explorer of mountains of the twentieth century; a highly decorated British Army officer who achieved fame as “The Father of Trekking” in Nepal. His idea, innovative at that time, was to make the mountaineering experience for climbers a bit easier and more comprehensible than what was present during the initial commencement of mountaineering in Nepal. His ideas included providing tents to the hikers and having them readily available, paired together with the Sherpa, for guidance up in the alienated terrains of the high Himalayas. This neoteric idea of his became a huge success and was encompassed by many, which then led to the availability of the mountaineering field be open and easily accessible to a wide range of factions. To say the least, his pioneering in this new field of mountaineering in Nepal became a success and was an absolute crowd-puller.

EBC trek


Nowadays, the whole manifestation of trekking in the mountains has become a well-established epiphany; there are coterie or solo travelers trudging through hills and isolated valleys in the remote destination of the country, walking about six to seven hours each day with their equipment and bag packs generally carried by porters or animals like yaks or donkeys, until they reach their destination of the base camp of the mountains. This common perdition has seen much modification throughout time, as there are availabilities of many more options regarding the destinations now, and the mode of travel has also been updated to suit modernization- with the inclusion of helicopter rides and provident availability of health care facilities. The trekking journeys are also complimented heavily for travelers because of the convenience of delicious regular meals, sleeping bags and other necessary equipment at one’s disposal and warm accommodative tents throughout the trekking journey. On top of all of this, the trekker may also carry his own personal pack that has his camera equipment, clothes or even snacks and trinkets. It’s astounding how much the trekking industry has evolved since the humble beginnings of mountain hiking in the time of Colonel Jimmy Roberts. Of course, the updates on the trekking propriety now has a wide range of trekkers, from young people to people who are old, a contrast with the trekking expeditions of Roberts, where his first ascend to the Lookout peak of Masherbrum (formally known as K1, the 22nd highest mountain in the world) in Pakistan was done in a completely contemporary way for his time, climbing without any other camaraderie for company, accompanied only by his Gorkhali companions.

Manaslu Region trek


Roberts was selected for the 1940 British Mount Everest Expedition, a feat which he did with Bill Tilman, considered a first trekker of Nepal. The British Mount Everest expedition was the first mountaineering expedition with the express aim of making the first ascent of Mount Everest. The first expedition to climb Everest was conducted in 1922 and was also the first expedition that attempted to climb Everest using oxygen bottles. Roberts and Tilman were part of the 1940’s expedition team.

During King Tribhuwan’s India visit, the King met Boris Lissnnivich, a Russian ballet dancer who was running a club in India at that time. Boris convinced the king that people would like to visit Nepal and would actually pay for the experience, citing to the King that the country could make profit from these visits. Lissnnivich, who was a Russian émigré to Nepal, then went on to establish the Royal Hotel in Nepal, with the purpose of accommodating visitors. The Royal Hotel was the country’s first Hotel. Delighted by Nepal’s vicinity, the visitors proved to be swayed by the prospect of touring the country. Thus, Nepali tourism had its first beginnings. The Royal Hotel and the Yak and Yeti bar became the meeting place for climbers from the fifties until seventy-one, when the Royal Hotel was closed. Colonel James Roberts was the first person to realize that trekking would appeal to tourists, and was also the first one to do something with the revelation. Jimmy Roberts had spent years in Nepal attached to the British residency and accompanied Tilman on his first trek. In 1965, he founded “Mountain Travel” in the Kali Gandaki area, the first of Nepal’s trekking companies and the ingénue for the adventure travel industry.

trek Manalu

In present day, the travel industry and the contemplation of hiking and trekking in the mountains is a relatively sustainable ordeal. It has become a booming industry that helps to bring revenue into the country, and helps to popularize Nepal and its cultures and traditions throughout the world. And this idea of commercializing and helping the trekking industry become a revenue-generating potential tourism aspect was first commenced by Colonel James Roberts in Nepal.


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