The mountains are calling and I must go, and I will work on while I can, studying incessantly.

- John Muir



Sep 29, 2013

India lowers Himalayan peak fees for mountaineers



Apoorva Prasad

Government launches new tourism campaign promoting the Himalayas, tweaks rules for climbers and trekkers

Indian authorities announced that they will be substantially discounting certain peak fees for climbers visiting the Himalayas. They also announced a potential easing of rules that currently block or severely restrict the use of most satellite phones by expeditions, though details are thin at the time.

India’s Ministry of Tourism launched a new marketing campaign, called the “777 Days of the Indian Himalayas”, due to run for over two years. The Ministry announced that it would discount by 50% all peak fees for the duration of a newly launched campaign to promote the Indian Himalayas. The government is also looking into opening up airfields in remote gateway Himalayan areas to help accessibility and travel.

The Indian state of Uttarakhand announced that it was waiving all state peak fees for mountains within that state – which includes most of India’s iconic summits above 6000m – including Shivling, Meru, Thalay Sagar, the Bhagirathi peaks, Kamet and many others.

Almost all foreign expeditions to India are required to pay a permit fee to the government for the peak they plan to attempt – this fee ranges from USD 100 for a two person party interested in trekking peaks to USD 1000 for two persons on an expedition to a peak above 7,001 mts. The handling charges go up if the number of people increase in the expedition. The fees are determined based on the height of the mountain, and the state in which it’s located. Apart from the central government, some states also charge additional local fees.

In recent years, peak fees had increased substantially, making it difficult to access many climbs in the country. Climbing traffic had also dropped over the years.  The campaign’s inaugural function was held today at the Ashok hotel in New Delhi, where well-known climber and The North Face team leader Conrad Anker was flown in for a day to be the keynote speaker. He presented video clips of climb of Meru Sharksfin, a notoriously difficult route in the Gangotri region in India. Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk made the first ascent of the feature in 2011.

Uttarakhand was recently hit by a series of devastating floods in which nearly 5,000 people are believed to have perished. According to industry estimates,  the flash floods caused nearly Rs.1, 200 crores (USD 2.2 billion) worth of revenue loss to the tourism sector of the state.

Image © Apoorva Prasad

Place: New Delhi

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Jul 10, 2018

The 2018 Whitewater Awards: Nouria Newman and Benny Marr take the spoils.

The Whitewater Awards is a gathering of the world’s best kayakers to show off the biggest and best things that have happened in the sport over the past year.



Brooke Hess

 To be considered for an award, athletes, photographers, and filmmakers submit media taken over the past year that they believe showcases the best progression in the sport.  

There are sixteen different categories for submission, including separate male and female categories within the “Best of” kayaking categories. Categories include Photographer of the Year, Film of the Year, Expedition of the Year, Best Trick, Best Line, River Stewardship, Grom of the Year, Rider of the Year, along with several others.  Awards are decided upon by a voting process done by the Association of Whitewater Professionals.

This year’s Whitewater Awards was held in the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise, Idaho. It was hosted on June 14th, the same weekend as the North Fork Championships, which takes place on the North Fork of the Payette River just outside of Boise.  The North Fork Championship is regarded as one of the hardest kayaking races in the world.

The race takes place on Jacob’s Ladder rapid, which is a rapid so difficult and consequential that most kayakers feel accomplished simply by surviving the rapid, much less racing the rapid. Nouria Newman, a 3-time NFC racer and winner of this year’s Whitewater Awards Female Rider of the Year describes it well,

“The NFC is the hardest race in whitewater kayaking. [Jacob’s Ladder] is a scary, consequential rapid. Running it is challenging, and it only gets harder to race it and make the gates.”

In order to minimize the risk involved in the race, event organizers have developed a strict qualification process for racers. 30 racers will qualify to race Jacob’s Ladder. Ten of them are pre-qualified from placing top ten at the event the year before. Those ten then read numerous athlete applications and vote on the next ten racers who will join them.  The last ten racers are decided through a qualification race on S-Turn rapid, another one of the North Fork’s infamous class V rapids.

Every year on this same weekend in June, kayakers, photographers, and filmmakers from around the world flock to Idaho to celebrate quality whitewater, progression of the sport, and the community that surrounds it. Both the North Fork Championship and the Whitewater Awards had great turnouts of athletes and spectators this year.

John Webster

The finalists of each category in the Whitewater Awards were presented in film format at the Egyptian Theater for the entire audience to view, with the winner being announced live. Winners were presented with an award and expected to give a short speech at the event. The big winners of the night were Nouria Newman and Benny Marr, who were awarded with Line of the Year and Rider of the Year in the female and male categories. Nouria says that voting for the “best” in each category is a challenging process, “…voting is always tricky, (look at both French and U.S. presidents, not too sure if they are really the best available option). And it is also very hard to compare lines and rapids. What’s bigger? What’s harder? I got voted Best Line of the Year with a good line down Parque Jurassic, a long technical rapid, but Rata’s line down Graceland, which is a huge slide, was equally as good, if not better.”

No matter how tricky the voting process can be, Nouria agrees that the Whitewater Awards plays a large role in the progression of the sport, “I think it’s super cool to see what people can do in their kayak, how they push the limit of the sport and how they open new possibilities.”

For more information about the Whitewater Awards, you can visit whitewaterawards.com, you can also follow them on Facebook and on Instagram.

You can follow Nouria on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can follow Benny on Facebook and Instagram.

Cover photo courtesy of Ari Walker

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