Trek to Everest - Sujoy Das: Photographs from Sikkim and the Himalaya

Sujoy Das | Photographs 1986 - 2017


Sujoy Das was born in Calcutta India in 1961. He is a self taught freelance photo-journalist specializing in editorial photography and photo essays and working primarily in the Himalayas.  


TREKKING AND HIKING 
Has been trekking and hiking in the Himalayas for the last thirty years.  Notable trekking routes/climbs include: 
•	Across seven passes from Lamayuru to Padum September  2009   
•	Winter ascent of Kala Pattar peak,  (Everest region) Dec 2003; 
•	Everest Base Camp 18,500 feet (2001); 
•	Thorung-la pass and Annapurna Circuit 17,746 feet (2000); 
•	Annapurna Base Camp 14,300 feet (1999);
•	Gokyo Ri peak Everest region 18,275 feet (1998);
•	Rupkund Lake, Garhwal Himalaya  16,200 feet (1996);
•	Kangchendzonga Base Camp North and Green Lakes 16,875 feet (1987); 
•	Dorji La peak North Sikkim Himalayas 18,644 feet (1986). 
•	Crossing of Lhonak-la pass North Sikkim Himalayas  (1987)

PHOTO ESSAYS/ARTICLES  
•	Give Youth a Constructive Role:  Nuturing Nature not Violence a photo essay on the youth of Assam,  August 2002
 http://proxied.changemakers.net/journal/02august/index.cfm

•	Nepali Women Rising, a photo essay on the women of Nepal,  December 2002 
 http://proxied.changemakers.net/journal/02december/index.cfm

•	The Man who captured the truth- Vittorio Sella  The Telegraph 29th October 2009
 http://www.telegraphindia.com/1091029/jsp/opinion/story_11669747.jsp

•	Kodachrome The Telegraph July 5th 2009   
  http://www.telegraphindia.com/1090705/jsp/calcutta/story_11194547.jsp

•	 Kolkata: Eats on the streets and off the beaten path The Washington Post February 28th 2010

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/25/AR2010022503376.html?sid=ST2010022602856

INDIVIDUAL PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITIONS
•	1992 Land of the Lotus Born – Photographs from Sikkim, India International Centre, New Delhi.
•	1992 The Sikkim Years – A Retrospective, Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata

SELECTED GROUP PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITIONS
•	1993 2nd Indian Biennale of Creative Photography, Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi
•	1991 Mountaineering in the Indian Himalaya, Indian Mountaineering  Foundation Museum, New Delhi
•	1987-88 Festival of India Photo Exhibition Pratibimba, toured the major cities of the USSR as part of the Festival of India.  

PUBLICATIONS
Photographs and essays have been published in books and magazines in India and abroad. 

Books
•	Trekking Holidays in India – Outlook Traveller Guides, New Delhi 2005
•	Sikkim – A Traveller’s Guide - Photographs and Essays by Sujoy Das and Text by Arundhati Ray Permanent Black New Delhi  3rd  reprint 2008.  Finalist in the Banff Mountain Book Festival in November 2001 in the Adventure Travel Category.
•	Lonely Planet- Nepal for the Indian Traveller 2013 
•	Calcutta – Edited by Michel Vatin, APA Guides, Singapore 1991.
•	Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong with text by Wendy Brewer Lama, APA Guides Singapore  1992
•	South India with text by Manjulika Dubey and Bikram Grewal, APA Guides Singapore  1992
•	Flowers of the Western Himalaya by Rupin Dang, Delhi 1993
•	The Himalayas – Text by Shankar Barua, Roli Books , New Delhi 1994
•	Hill Stations of India by Gillian Wright,  1995

Selected Magazines/ Newspapers Articles and Photo Essays
•	India Today Travel Plus – The Final Frontier, Everest April 2013
•	Outlook Traveller – The Three Passes of Everest, June 2013
•	Outlook Traveller – Spiti the Left Bank Trek, May 2012
•	Outlook Traveller – Classic Zanskar June 2012
•	The Telegraph -  Everest After 60 Years May 26th 2013
•	The Times of India Crest Edition – Everest June 3rd 2013
•	The Telegraph – Vittorio Sella Mountain Photographer Oct 2009
•	The Telegraph – Raghubir Singh May 2010
•	The Telegraph – Alexander Kellas Jan 2012
•	The Washington Post – Kolkata Food Story February 2010 	
•	Darjeeling – Perspectives in the 150th Anniversary Year – Destination India,  October 1985
•	The Abode of the Dorje, Darjeeling – Swagat,  January 1986
•	The Serampore Press and Library – The India Magazine, June  1986
•	Feat of Clay – The Clay Modellers of Krishnagar – Frontline  9-22 August 1986
•	P N Bose- From the Travel Journals of a Geologist- The India Magazine July 1989
•	Sikkim Himalaya – Sawasdee, December 1989
•	Beauty at it’s Peak: North Sikkim- The Telegraph Sunday Magazine 11th March 1990
•	Great Escapes- The Telegraph Sunday Magazine 29th April 1990
•	The Dance of Death: Lama Dances in Sikkim- The Telegraph Sunday Magazine  16th December 1990
•	Kalimpong: The Economic Times 19th May 1991
•	Rediscovering Darjeeling – Frontline 10-23 August  1985
•	Anglo Indians: Pioneers and Prodigies- Discover India June 1991
•	The Yak Herdsmen of the Lhonak Valley – The India Magazine September 1992
•	Journey Down the Hoogly- The India Magazine, June 1993
•	The Wrath of Nanda Devi- Sunday Magazine  2 January 1993
•	Architecture and Design Magazine Cover Photograph June 1989

==============================================================================================
<b>   Sujoy is currently working on a book on the Indian Himalayas due for publication in 2015 and also leading treks in the Himalayas under the banner of South Col Expeditions www.southcol.com </b>
Trek to Everest by Sumana Mukherjee
Live Mint


Mount Everest has lost much lustre since travel companies began providing pro guides to rig the ropes and charging $50,000 (about Rs20.2 lakh) for their services.

With China building a road through the Tibet plateau to the north side of the Everest Base Camp, used by climbers such as George Mallory, Andrew Irvine, Noel Odell and Eric Shipton in the early 20th century, serious mountaineers and trekkers will now focus on the south side of the Base Camp, hallowed ever since Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary’s historic 1953 ascent. On the Everest walk, you’re never alone; locals, yaks and trekkers give you company.“But there are other areas of the Himalayas that are still magic,” says Sujoy Das, 46, a Kolkata-based photographer  who’s “always up there in spirit despite being in the city 10 months out of 12”.

If you walk from Jiri, a day’s bus ride from Kathmandu, the Everest trek takes about 15 to 21 days, depending on acclimatization. Most trekkers, however, prefer to fly to Lukla and then trek from there. Ten days of slow walking would take you to the Everest Base Camp or Kala Pattar, the peak just above it (at 5,545m, it’s the highest point of the trek).

Base Camp and Kala Pattar are the culmination of the Everest trek—any higher, and you’re in the realms of mountaineering. But there are a number of valleys around that are also worth visiting. That’s why Das, a 32-year veteran of the mountains, is planning his fourth trek to the Everest region, after three successful forays in 1997, 2000 and 2003-2004.
“Because I’d been trekking since I was 15, I had some idea of what I would encounter on the Everest trek,” says Das. “Fitness is of ultimate importance. I’ve always been playing some sport or the other, especially tennis. Even in the city, with no immediate plans of trekking, I follow a rigid exercise routine.” This includes swimming three to four days a week and hitting the gym on other days. “Walking on an inclined treadmill simulates the uphill walking on the trek and strengthens the knees. It’s the next best thing if you can’t run long distances” Das says.

He also regularly uses light weights for leg presses, leg extensions and bench presses, which improve strength. For the lungs, cardio exercises, swimming and running help. “All of it comes in handy when you’re walking seven to eight hours a day at altitudes of 2,500m to 5,500m (about 14kg) with a 30-lb rucksack on your back,” Das says. 

As for gear, Das thinks it’s advisable to shop online since good quality equipment is hard to come by in India. “I buy most of my stuff off Net portals like www.rei.com , www.backcountry.com , andwww.campmor.com . Osprey makes sturdy rucksacks; for tents and sleeping bags, I swear by North Face. I’ve just bought a pair of La Sportiva boots—my Merrells gave way after 10 years of hiking. Other good brands are Mountain Hardwear, Patagonia, Rei and Marmot.” 

Besides personal equipment—a sleeping bag, rucksack, clothes, tent, cameras, a medical kit (including ointments for aches and sprains and crepe bandages)—trekkers need their passport, driving licence (mentioning the blood group) and credit cards. 

Kathmandu offers a lot of trekking gear and foodstuff, such as chocolates, nuts, dry fruits and Iodine tablets to purify water. Stock up on socks, gloves and caps in Thamel. 

When it comes to company, it’s each to his own. While some prefer strangers, Das has been trekking with his school friend Srijit Dasgupta for 20 years. “We’ve done more than 20 treks together. I find it makes things much easier if you’re with a friend. You need people on the team who are fit and mentally prepared to complete the trek. There’s no exit route halfway and no room for tantrums,” says Das.  
While a Sherpa is not essential, many people, especially trekkers new to the slopes, do engage a porter-cum-guide to travel light and have some back-up. The trek can be difficult in places and the weather turns nasty without warning. “No sooner do you reach the top of a hill than you have to go down again and then up again. Snowstorms and white-out conditions are common and a sunny walk can suddenly turn into a nightmare,” says Das. “A good thumb rule is to set out by 7am and get into camp by 2pm or 3pm instead of sunset,” he adds.  
After fitness, acclimatization is the most important thing on the Everest trail. “I followed a rigid acclimatization routine for all three Everest treks—two days of doing nothing other than walks at Namche Bazaar or Khumjung (around 3,000m to 3,500m) and one more day around 4,000m. This usually works,” he says.  
Das has known trekkers who had to be evacuated by helicopter from the Everest region— which costs thousands of dollars—because of mountain sickness brought on by bad acclimatization. “The funny thing about mountain sickness is that it hits you out of the blue. You may be fine in the morning and climb 3,000ft in the day and, by evening, you may have a headache, nausea and insomnia. If so, you need to rest at that altitude and if things don’t get better, you need to come down, not go up,” he advises.  
Because the trail is popular with both “package hikers” and serious mountaineers, the accommodation available is good, compared with the Indian Himalayas. “Some lodges actually have water to flush down the loo, and hot showers (read tepid) are occasionally available for 100 Nepali rupees,” says Das. The food is decent too: dal-chawal, noodle soup and local takes on pizzas and pasta, besides tea, coffee and eggs. “What more do you need on a trek?” he asks.  

Perhaps a phone to call home? On the way up, Namche Bazaar is the last spot from where you can make a call, and Das makes it a point to ring home once before the trek and once after.

But unlike the treks in India, one is never really alone on the Everest trail. There are fellow trekkers, local people, yaks, herdsmen and porters. It’s not really a wilderness trek in the true sense.
For Das, the Everest trail is one of the great walks of the world. “To enjoy it, one has to stay fit, prepare well, be determined and humble. It’s essential not to force things, to have enough time and to listen to your body. If all is in place, it’s the trip of a lifetime.” First Published: Fri, Aug 24 2007. 11 46 PM IST
Powered by SmugMug Log In