My love for trails and mountains led me to a casual interview with Robin Boustead, a trek developer, mountain climber and pioneer. I met Robin in October 2013 at a travel trade show in Singapore was immediately inclined to dig deeper into his travel journey when he mentioned the Himalayas! Trekking to the base camp of Mount Everest has always been my dream and I was eager to learn more.
Robin has been trekking Nepal since 1993 and he fell head over heels in love with the Himalayas, the great mountain range that stretches across six countries including Bhutan, India, China, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Himalayas is also home to Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak.
After innumerable trekking trips, Robin and his friends decided to take on the challenging feat of completing the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT), one of the longest and highest alpine trails in the planet. His intention was to make the trail more accessible for avid trekkers and climbers. Since 1980, less than a dozen people have ever completed the trail. The handfuls of people were hard core explorers and scientists – none were novices.
Robin put himself to the task and in 2008; he set off on that epic journey that took him a total of 6 months. Throughout his journey, he meticulously recorded the route using GPS and detailed specifics including elevation, distances, rest stops, water sources, villages and camp sites which can be found in the Great Himalaya Trail Book. He returned a new man and a much lighter one too… Robin lost 20% of his body weight after the trip!
Here’s my chat with the great pioneer and some insider tips for those attempting the GHT:
Ardent Traveler (AT): In 3 words, describe yourself (for those who don’t know you).
Robin Boustead (RB): Passionate, Himalayaphile & Determined
AT: What’s your single most memorable travel experience?
RB: Trekking across Nepal and Bhutan… two wonderful trips that changed my life.
AT: Over the last two decades, you have successfully mapped out the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT). What are your three most significant lessons from this endeavour?
RB: Patience in all things, Take a sense of humour everywhere you go & Share your passion
AT: You’ve been doing this (mountaineering) for many years. What drives you to reach mountain peaks?
RB: The view from the other side! – I’m serious! For too many years I got bored going up and down the same route, but the GHT is about crossing the mountains, passing through different communities and immersing yourself in diversity.
AT: What advice would you give to first timers attempting the GHT?
RB: Don’t try to do too much, take your time and focus on a quality experience for everyone involved – not quantity (how high, how far, how long)
AT: Tell me a little about the communities inhabiting the awesome route along the GHT.
RB: There are 16 different ethnic groups along the Nepal GHT alone – the diversity is incredible! Although poor and sometimes barely subsistence, they are always willing to share what little they have and you must make sure you find some way to repay their generosity. Be creative and don’t rely on giving things away, or simply pulling out a bundle of rupees.
AT: Any plans on pioneering other trails around the world? What’s next on the agenda?
RB: More GHT! I still haven’t had enough and there is so much joy returning to places.
AT: Finally, if there is just ONE thing that readers should know about the GHT, what is it?
RB: It’s a journey, one that will improve the lives of all involved.
AT: Thanks Robin!
The GHT is now accessible to all and there are two routes to choose from, the low route also known as the cultural route passing through remote villages and a chance to interact with local communities and high route, a scenic and high altitude alpine route with unbeatable mountain views. There’s more to read here.