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Backpacker Magazine – February 2002

Snow Leopards: Gray Ghosts Of The Himalaya

When you hike the world's highest peaks in search of the legendary snow leopard, be prepared for the unexpected.

by: Dennis Lewon


The 420-square-mile park (with a buffer zone twice that size) was established in 1987, opened to foreigners 5 years later, and by all appearances is still waiting for them to come. There are no teahouses here. No trail signs. No guidebooks. Not even a good map. Just a handful of villages, a few nomadic shepherds who drift into the high meadows come summer, and pure, cloud-piercing wilderness.

A week into our journey, Ellen and I set up camp on the banks of the Parahio River, a tributary of the Pin. ("Go that way," a shepherd had told us days before upon learning of our wildlife search, "it's more jungli> up there.") We had climbed to over 14,000 feet, following a semi-improved goat track upstream as the canyon walls squeezed in and the mind-boggling peaks, still a vertical mile above, piled into dizzying stacks that challenged our heretofore quaint notion of mountain terrain. We'd seen no people for days--just a few skittish pikas, some lone ravens, a herd of bharal sheep, and more rock-flinging ibex. Nor had we seen a leopard, even though biologists estimate that about a dozen inhabit the park.

So there, beside the Parahio, we gave up our search. The next morning, as if on cue, a blizzard descended, trapping us inside our tent for 24 hours. When the flakes finally stopped flying, I unzipped the fly and took a half-step out. And there, in the new snow, not a yard from our door, was a perfect set of feline paw prints, each distinct impression as big as the palm of my hand.

On the happy hike out, Ellen and I decided that real adventure--the kind that makes your soul sing--is a lot like searching for a snow leopard. The best you can do is put yourself in the right vicinity, and hope it finds you.




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Trekking in Nepal
Mar 01, 2013

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Peruvian Mountains
Jun 11, 2011

We are a group of professionals tour operators young's activity, we have gained experience working in climbing & trek for about 15 years, and now we can organize, inform, promote with odjetivity a quality service , we are able to offer, many diverses in the adventure tours around Cordillera Blanca , Cordillera Huayhuash and Raura lots of adventure activity were introduced to the international market and now we are promoting with professional experience.

We promise to give you the best tourism experience avaible from our grand city Huaraz. TOUCHING THE VOID & NOLE RODOLFO REYES an wonderful experience adventure travel to Siula Grande was made famous, Rodolfo worked during the film as assistant of the climbers and Englis start Joe Simpson, Simon Yates and kevin Macdonald (Touching the void-director) realized in july to august 2002 where itinerary started in Cajatambo and finished in Siula Grande Huayhuash- Peru.

lauren rose mahoney
Feb 06, 2009

when i went to the himalayas we were on top of a mountain and a faint outline of a figure came walking towards us through itself of the mountain and when me and my friend came there was no one there was it a ghost?

lauren rose mahoney
Feb 06, 2009

when i went to the himalayas we were on top of a mountain and a faint outline of a figure came walking towards us through itself of the mountain and when me and my friend came there was no one there was it a ghost?

lauren rose mahoney
Feb 06, 2009

when i went to the himalayas we were on top of a mountain and a faint outline of a figure came walking towards us through itself of the mountain and when me and my friend came there was no one there was it a ghost?

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