Roland Hunter

Roland Hunter

Roland is our Managing Director and set up The Mountain Company in 2004. Over the years he has led most of our trips so has first-hand knowledge and experience of the Himalayas and Karakoram.

Roland is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society ("FRGS") and a member of the Alpine Club & Calgary Mountain Club. In 2001 he climbed to the summit of Mount Everest (8,848m) and in 2009 to the summit of Mount Makalu (8,462m) without supplemental oxygen.

The impetus behind starting The Mountain Company was an expedition Roland led to Broad Peak (Pakistan) in the summer of 2004 where two members of his team got to the true summit at 8,047m.

Over the last fifteen years, Roland has led groups on the majority of The Mountain Company’s portfolio of tours, treks, and expeditions. A summary of these trips are as follows:

2020 to 2021: during the Covid 19 pandemic I have continued to go trail running in the UK entering ultras and marathons: several marathons on Dartmoor and Exmoor plus The Fox Way ultramarathon near Godalming. 

2017 to 2019: working in Operations based in Kathmandu for both Spring and Autumn seasons. Also your point of contact for pre-trip questions and briefings/ debriefings in Kathmandu for Nepal trips. Have developed an interest in trail running in the UK and the Himalayas. In 2019 ran the Annapurna mountain marathon and Stupa to Stupa ultra marathon in the Kathmandu valley.

2016: based in Kathmandu for both Spring and Autumn seasons. In May visited Pokhara, Kathmandu, and Chitwan on a hotel inspection visit to develop our cultural tours of Nepal. Post Autumn season went on a research and recce tour of Burma (Myanmar).

2015: in April went on a recce trek from Arughat to Ganesh Himal known as the Ruby Valley trek.

2014: in October went on a recce trek from Arun valley to Makalu Base Camp part of Kanchenjunga to Makalu GHT

2013: in April visited Bardia National Park in Nepal and also walked Panchase trek near Pokhara part of our Pokhara Panorama trek; in May I was invited by The Great Himalaya project on a familiarisation trek to west Nepal staying at homestays near Simikot and Raling gompa. In October and November led 36-day trek from Kanchenjunga to Makalu along section One of GHT.

2012: in November led Mera Peak Expedition for the seventh time and in December went on a recce trek to set up our Luxury Kathmandu Valley Rim trek.

2011: in December went on a recce trek to Mardi Himal and Kopra Ridge; in November led Mera Peak Expedition; led Lunana Snowman trek in Bhutan for the second time; in August led K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La in Pakistan, in April/ May completed the crux section of The Great Himalaya Trail from Makalu to Everest GHT crossing Sherpani Pass, West Col and Amphu Laptsa passes. In March visited Morocco for Jebel Sahro trek followed by a winter climb of Mount Toubkal.

2010: in December led a trek to Everest Base Camp for the charity Islamic Relief; in November led Mera Peak expedition (Roland’s fifth summit); in October led Dhaulagiri Circuit and in August led K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La trek; in May led a reconnaissance trek on a section of Great Himalaya Trail ("GHT") from Upper Dolpo to Jomsom; in April led Langtang and Laurebina La trek and in January led a group to the summit of Kilimanjaro following the Rongai route.

2009: summitted Mt Makalu (Nepal) 8,462m using no bottled oxygen or Sherpa support. Take a look at our Blog for the story of our summit day and summit photos. In Autumn he led his 4th successful expedition to Mera Peak then a trek to Everest Base Camp with a charity group.

2008: led Manaslu Circuit, Dhaulagiri Circuit via French Col, K2 Base Camp & Gondogoro La, Lunana Snowman (complete Paro to Bumthang trek), Mera Peak and Charity Challenge to Everest Base Camp.

2007: led K2 Base Camp (twice) and Mera Peak expedition

2006: led Everest North Col (Tibet), Annapurna Circuit, Annapurna Base Camp, Classic Tour of Bhutan, Stok Kangri expedition and Lamarayu trek, K2 Base Camp and Gondogoro La, Kanchenjunga Goecha La, Singalila Ridge, Charity Challenge to Everest Base Camp, Siklis trek and Langtang with Kianjin Gompa

2005: led Mera Peak expedition, Everest High Passes, Sikkim Discovery and Markha Valley.

2004: leader of an international expedition to Broad Peak (8,047m), Pakistan. More on this expedition at Everestnews.com & Explorersweb.com articles

2003: joined an expedition to the south face of Kanchenjunga (8,586m), Nepal.

2001: summited Mount Everest (8,848m) via the northeast ridge from Tibet. More on this expedition

2000: the summit of Kilimanjaro via the Umbwe/western breach route

1992: trekked around Nanda Devi, India (Curzon Trail and Kuari Pass)

Getting to know Roland Hunter

Since I founded The Mountain Company in 2004, I have been very fortunate to have walked most of the treks in our portfolio. Up until 2013, I was busy leading our groups in the Himalayas and Karakoram mountains. I have enjoyed every trek that I have done as they are all different in so many ways. But my two favourite treks are Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT in Nepal and Lunana Snowman in Bhutan.

Both of these are camping-style treks and visit very remote regions of the Himalayas. Plus the views are sensational! I have enjoyed leading two groups on Lunana Snowman and there is a real pleasure in doing a trek for the second time. I would love to trek in the Upper Dolpo region again too!

I got into outdoor activities while at school in the UK. I enjoyed rock climbing weekends organised by some of our teachers. When I was sixteen I joined a week course to learn the basics of winter mountaineering in Glencoe, Scotland. At school, I was an army cadet and at University joined the Officer Training Corps. As a result, I spent a lot of time hill walking with a heavy bergen (rucsac) on my back....

After leaving school I taught at Mayo College in Ajmer located in the state of Rajasthan, India. After the term finished I took the opportunity to trek in the Himalayas for the first time. I joined some friends on several treks from Joshimath in Uttarakhand. Our first trek crossed Kuari Pass with sensational views of Nanda Devi, Kamet, and other Himalayan peaks. After that, I was hooked!

After University I spent a winter season in Chamonix where I did a lot of skiing and mountaineering. In particular, I enjoyed skiing off-piste and steeper couloirs. In late Spring I skied the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt on touring skis while staying in huts.

After climbing to the summit of Mount Everest in Spring 2001 I moved to live in Calgary, Canada. Living so close to the Canadian Rockies it was an excellent place to rock climb, ski tour, and to go mountaineering. I learned to climbed ice falls in the winters with temperatures down to -30 Celsius!

In 2004 I decided to start The Mountain Company after leading a successful expedition to climb Broad Peak (8,051m) in Pakistan. Our aim from the start was to be a specialist operator focussing on a small number of countries in the Himalayas and Karakoram. To find out more about us read Our Operations

From 2004 to 2013 I was leading Himalayan treks throughout the year in Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, and India. A typical busy season for me was Autumn 2008 when I started by leading 28-day Lunana Snowman in Bhutan followed by Mera Peak Expedition in November. After summitting Mera Peak I led a group to Everest Base Camp in December.

In 2009 I took a break from leading groups in the mountains by joining two friends to climb Mount Makalu (8,485m) in Nepal. Mick Parker and I got to the summit on May 21st without using supplemental oxygen or Sherpa support. What an incredible day in the mountains! You can see the view from the summit of Makalu on our YouTube video on The Mountain Company's channel.

I will sit on the fence as I cannot talk about only one day after having led so many Himalaya treks over the years. I have listed my best days leading groups below:

1. The summit day on Mera Peak in Nepal back in November 2007. We had perfect weather with incredible views of the Himalayas. We had a good group and some of these have come back for several more treks with us since then. I went on to lead another five successful expeditions to climb Mera Peak.

2. The crossing of the last major pass on Djule La on the Lunana Snowman in Bhutan in October 2008. I was amazed by the beauty of the landscape seen during this trek through a very remote part of the Bhutan Himalayas. We saw very few other groups along the way and had interesting meetings with the locals.  This was the first time that we had organised the Lunana Snowman trek. It was such a relief to cross the last pass and make the full traverse after 28 days of trekking. Since then we have organised eleven successful Snowman treks! Today we are still working with two of the same Bhutanese trekking guides from our first Snowman in 2008.

3. The crossing of Sherpani Pass and West Col on Makalu to Everest GHT trek in May 2011. These two passes are the crux section of The Great Himalaya Trail in Nepal. It is a tough day for the group and a logistical challenge getting the trek crew over these technical passes over 6,000m. The views are sublime. We saw the highest peaks in the Himalayas including Mount Everest, Mount Makalu, and Mount Lhotse.

4. The crossing of the Kang La over to Shey Gompa in May 2010 on our Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT trek. This is the hardest pass on the trek into Upper Dolpo and at this time there was quite a lot of snow. Since then we have delayed the starting dates of the trek to allow for more snowmelt. This was a reconnaissance trek with one of our leaders, Ade Summers, plus a trekker who had completed Snowman with me in 2008. By speaking to our cook who knew Upper Dolpo well, fortunately, we ended by following a trail near Tibet border that is still rarely trekked by other groups.

I always bring a Buff scarf as they are an excellent piece of kit to have on a trek. They are versatile and can be used as insulation from the cold and protection from the sun. Buffs are also useful for dusty trails too. We designed our own bespoke #myTMCBuff that we have sold to raise money for our guides and trek crews. This money has been used to support our guides during the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021 when they have had no work. The Mountain Company paid for the cost of the Buff and we donated all proceeds to our guides hardship fund. Thanks so much for everyone’s support and donations, in 2020 we paid £20k to our trek crews in Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan. For more information about our fundraising take a look at our Responsible Tourism page. 

Take the time to select the right trek for you in terms of your fitness, outdoor experience, and skill level. Please speak to us about your goals as it is important you know what to expect. As I have personally done most of our treks I will give you advice based on my first-hand knowledge. 

Once you have chosen your trek then you should do your best to get ready by improving your fitness level. After booking the trip we will send you our Trekking Fitness Plan tailored for the grade level. If you are fit you will enjoy the trek much more than if you are pushing yourself hard each day.

While on the trek, my advice would be to relax and go with the flow. This is adventure travel where the unexpected often happens. Rest assured our experienced leaders will do their best to resolve the issue and find a solution. Keep an open mind. Make the most from the trip by spending time with the rest of the group, trek crew, and locals you meet along the way. Relax and enjoy the experience!

I am writing this in March 2021 during Covid lockdown so of course, future travel plans are less certain. The main priority for me now is to restart our trips to get the business back on track and to give work to our guides. However, I have used the downtime to do more trail running near where we live in Dartmoor National Park in the southwest of England.

After completing several trail marathons and ultras in 2019 and 2020 I would love to enter Ultra Tour Monte Rosa ("UTMR") in Switzerland. Possibly in September 2022 and let’s see how the training goes! UTMR is organised by Lizzy Hawker who is my flatmate in Kathmandu. I have enjoyed trail running in Nepal. I have completed the Annapurna marathon in November 2019 and Stupa to Stupa ultramarathon in Kathmandu valley in 2017 and 2018. These races are organised by our friends at Trail Running Nepal.

My dream trip would be to run across Nepal following The Great Himalaya Trail ("GHT"). I have already walked some sections of GHT from leading trekking groups. I know the way from Kanchenjunga Base Camp to Makalu Base Camp and from Makalu to Everest. I know Langtang, Ganesh Himal, Manaslu, and Annapurna regions. I have also trekked Upper Dolpo to Jomsom GHT. There are a few blanks on the map that I have not walked yet such as Rolwaling and Far West Nepal. It is a feasible project however I just need some time....

Having spent a lot of time in Kathmandu over the years I have a long list of favourite places. These days I am based in Kathmandu to support our groups during peak season in the months of April, October, and November. Often I work out of a cafe or restaurant and I have several “offices” where I have found good coffee and wifi connection. My favourite places to work are Revolution Cafe, Curillo near British Embassy and Himalayan Java cafes on Tridevi Marg, Boudhanath, and Lazimpat.

The best place for pizza is at Roadhouse. There are several branches in Thamel, Boudhanath, and also Mezze by RoadHouse on Durbar Marg.

I think that the best place for Nepalese food is Bhumi Restaurant. This place serves delicious curries and naan bread. Yum! It is located in Lazimpat near Hotel Shangri La and 15 minutes walk from Hotel Tibet and Hotel Ambassador.

The best bar in Kathmandu is Sam’s Bar in Thamel, there is always a fun and friendly atmosphere. You will be well looked after by Verena and her team.

After booking a holiday with us we will send our Nepal Pre Trip information document to you. This has lots of information about Nepal to help you get ready including our recommendations of top places to eat and drink.