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In search of snow leopards

Hi anyone on this trip?

I'm booked on the Feb 28th departure into March.

Hopefully taking a decent sized lens in case we get a good sighting. Any other shutterbugs coming?

Hi Phill,

Just booked on today. I've just come back from the Peaks of Ladakh trek, where we think we spotted a Snow Leopard and two cubs (although it was in the distance and they were little more than dots against the snow). Our guide thought they were wolves but another group with a guide were convinced otherwise. We came across the tracks a few minutes later and they were defintiely cats prints. I didn't have the long lens with me (weight was very much at a premium on that trek). I loved the area and really fancied spending some time snapping the wildlife rather than struggling up the passes.

Dave

Ah yes was over there years ago climbing Stok Kangri and we saw a fuzzy ball through a camera teams spotting scope.

I'm a Nikon dslr man and hoping to bring a couple of lenses weight allowance permitting. 

You a Canon or Nikon user? No bias here.

I'm flying out of Manchester for this trip and looking forward to it. Love the mountains - how did you find your trek?

I also checked with Exodus and we will be returning to same hotel in Ladakh and Delhi so could leave a change of clothes behind for flight back.

I used to be a Nikon user but about three years ago I sold up and adopted the Fuji X system. I still have a few manual Nikon lens which I can use on the Fujis but the weight saving of the Fuji kit makes a huge difference.

The trek was tough - 6 passes around 5000m and the weather finally conspired against us so we couldn't attempt Dzo Jongo. But what a great adventure. It was a good group (which makes a huge difference), Valerie and the crew were amazing and apart from two days of rain and a blizzard, the scenery was stunning. I'm hoping for rather fewer river crossing, though!

I can't comment on the Delhi hotel as it's different to where we stayed but if we use the same hotel in Leh - the Glacier View - it's great. The staff are really friendly and they have a reasonably priced laundry service too. The change of clothes at Delhi was most welcome. As it was so humid there, I saved the fresh set for the day of travel. 

I'm heading to Heathrow on the 29th for my flight.

Sounds like you had a suitably epic trip - I do love the moutains out there and was last in Nepal in 2017.

Valerie is also very good, met her once on another trek and she just has that enduring spirit of adventure.

Had a chat with Paul Goldstein before booking and he's talked me into taking the dslr and 600mm so I will be hauling a decent weight. If nothing else I'll have a hell of a spotting scope on my camera 😀

Actually have hired local porter to put money into economy and potentially bring a tripod / see how we go with camera. If nothing else can ask him about local area and get a bit of cultural insight too.

I'm with Qatar Airways out to Delhi so will meet you there.

Can your Fuji autofocus with Nikon f-mount? 

 

It was a great trek despite the weather. We managed a lesser summit, and most of the time the weather was ok (summit day was a beautiful summer's day and very hot). I'm thinking of going back next year to attempt Dzo Jongo again.

Yes, I think the big lens is the way to go, judging by our encounter. Is your 600mm a prime? I used to have the Sigma 150-600 for my Nikon and that was a stunning lens, but also a stunning weight. I'm still thinking about what to take, but my 100-400 plus teleconverters are a must.

The Nikon lenses I still have are Nikkor manual primes. I don't have an autofocus adapter (I'm not sure they exist). I've kept them because they are fast and I still have a D300 which has been converted to take infra red and they're good for that.

My main concern at the moment is ensuring the kit copes with cold and damp. I've had a camera fail because of temperature (not the Fuji, yet!). It's the first time I've really looked at the camera specs! (You know you're a lost cause photography geek when you're more concerned about camera operating temperatures than your own personal warmth and comfort).

I think we're with BA. We flew Virgin Atlantic in August and they were great.

Haha true I've got a D850 and D500 that have been to Svalbard so hopefully they should survive. My Canon point and shoot has been through Nepal and up Kili too.

I asked about lenses as have a few Nikons that are af-s so would have seen if any were worth bringing for you to mount instead of manuals.

I have the 80-400 that has travelled Africa and Asia and 70-200 or 35mm might come along on the d500.

Sadly 15kg weight allowance out of Delhi and 7kg carry on means thinking hard about choices. 

Trip will be amazing even if limited photo ops, it is the scenery and people that make the adventure.

I shall also be saving a change of clothes for flight home, if nothing else but to be kind on the fellow passengers

Thanks for the offer of the lenses. I tend to start to think about these things early so that I can try out combinations while training - the same with clothing and so on. The scenery was indeed amazing in August (apart from the low cloud days, the photos from which ended up as black and white conversions). We were off the beaten track so on the trek itself there were few locals other than the crew. I understand that we will have a full day at the Stok festival which I'm looking forward to and Leh should be less touristy in March. 

I suspect that there'll be a couple of primes as well as the big zoom, and I always carry a small fixed lens Fuji as well, which takes care of the candids and general stuff.  

We had a 12kg limit for kit bags on the actual trek and our 15kg flight limit included the technical climbing kit, so this time around I expect it will be a little easier to meet the allowance. In addition, all of our bags were checked in one job lot on the internal flight, and our allowance was calculated including Valerie and our local guide, who had no check in luggage. A few were slightly over but it was all covered by the group allowance.

I understand that including you and me, there are 9 currently booked on this trip. Do you know of anyone else going?

Sadly most of my friends have young families so coming on adventures with me is rarely an option. Just me on this trip.

My 600 is a prime ( almost 4kg) and chopped in my old 500 for it with an eye on this trip. Have a Tamron 150-600 which is similar to Sigma and they are great for covering a lot of ground.

Baggage sounds same as Nepal and we are going to be getting full value out of a set of thermals and a couple of midlayers - I have boxes of kit but inevitably can survive on a set of wets and drys and an extra warm layer for the cold day. I start out paired down to bare minimum packing, an hr later I've found a shiny pair of down gloves with liners and I'm packing 10kgs.

Reckon my Trango Alpines will do as good mountain boots just not super warm - but don't want to wear Nepal Extremes if not going front pointing as weigh a ton.

Will be packing a few kilos in my bergen and wandering a few hills to reacclimitise to carrying life on my shoulders soon

Ouch - one lens 4kg? No wonder you've hired an extra porter! It'll be worth it for the image quality though.

I tend to over pack - I did for the trek. But I made a point of noting how much stuff I actually used so hopefully I'll be packing a lot less for this trip. I suspect there'll be a lot of standing around so the thermals will get an outing. Besides, I have to make weight savings so I can include the vital Snickers supplies.

I became addicted to dates climbing mountains so those are my thing.

I've trapsed around Africa with 4kg of camera and lens on my neck before so it isn't too extreme. But at altitude might be a bit tougher

Main thing is the photography has to be complimentary to the trek not intrusive and taking over - ie bag full of lenses and not able to enjoy trek because I'm carrying kitchen sink.

Snickers are my energy source of choice and I tend to reward myself with a Fry's Turkish Delight after significant summits (I nearly fell asleep mid Turkish Delight in the camp after Kili - but it had to be eaten).

I agree with you about trek vs photography. It was very much that on my last trek but I regretted not having a longer lens for my main camera. I had to rely on the little Canon point and shoot, which was ok for snap shots and a record of the trip. I think this one will be the other way around for me, though, as the itinerary is more photography orientated.

Have you got your visa yet? I got mine online for the last trek and it's valid until next April. Don't mention Ladakh when applying for it, it can cause problems.

Snickers are my energy source of choice and I tend to reward myself with a Fry's Turkish Delight after significant summits (I nearly fell asleep mid Turkish Delight in the camp after Kili - but it had to be eaten).

I agree with you about trek vs photography. It was very much that on my last trek but I regretted not having a longer lens for my main camera. I had to rely on the little Canon point and shoot, which was ok for snap shots and a record of the trip. I think this one will be the other way around for me, though, as the itinerary is more photography orientated.

Have you got your visa yet? I got mine online for the last trek and it's valid until next April. Don't mention Ladakh when applying for it, it can cause problems.

I'm having trouble replying to your post, each time I hit save my reply disappears. This is the third attempt. They'll probably all appear at once next Thursday!

Snickers is my energy source of choice and I usually reward myself with a Fry's Turkish Delight after a signficant summit. I nearly fell asleep while eating a Turkish delight in camp after Kili. It had to be done, though.

I agree with your trek vs photography. I limited the kit I took with me on the Peaks trek because I knew it wouldn't go down well if they were always delayed by me waiting for the light. I regretted not having a longer lens for my main camera. But this time, the itinerary is geared towards the photography side of things so I'll be bringing more along.

Have you got your Visa yet? I got mine online for the last trek and as it's valid for 12 months, it'll do me for the next one. If you're getting it, don't mention Ladakh as it can cause delays.

No my passport ends while I'm in Ladakh so renewing it and so doing once that is sorted.

Phill

I had forgotten how bureaucratically crap India was. Just jumped through the e-visa setup this evening to realise can only apply for it 120 days in advance. God I loathe this part of the travel as it is when they cock-up and can't sort it in less than 90 days.

Hopefully will run smooth and Google reminder set

And it's valid for 1 year from the date of issue, so if you're thinking of going back again, leave it for as long as you dare. To be fair, mine was granted in about three days.

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