THE MOUNTAIN COMPANY
We would like to introduce you to how we run our trips and the ways we differ from other trekking companies out there. The Mountain Company won AITO Tour Operator of Year for 2018. By describing our operations we hope this will help you understand how we achieve this high level of service.
Our office is in the United Kingdom (UK). Yet our Managing Director, Roland Hunter, has spent on average four months a year in Nepal since 2004. During this time he has been in Nepal during some of the pivotal moments of Nepalese history from the Royal massacre; the Maoist insurgency to the earthquake in 2015.
In peak season Roland is in Kathmandu supporting our groups in the field. At other times he enjoys going on reconnaissance treks into the mountains to find new trips to add to our portfolio. We are an operator that complies with EU/UK regulations and also spends a lot of time on the ground in our destinations. This means our travellers get the best of both worlds.
The Mountain Company runs trips to a small number of countries. We are experts in organising holidays in Nepal, Bhutan, India (Ladakh) and Pakistan. We have a strong track record with years of operational experience. We have the resources to organise remote, camping treks in the Himalaya and Karakoram. We run the best teahouse lodge and luxury lodge treks in Nepal and cultural tours in Nepal, Bhutan and Burma.
Your Point of Contact
As a specialist operator we offer a personable and friendly service. Your point of contact will always be Roland Hunter starting from the initial enquiry. We provide continuity of support as Roland will be your point of contact throughout your booking until departure. Also for Nepal trips he will meet you in Kathmandu for the trip briefing and debriefing afterwards. Roland has trekked most of the trails in our portfolio and has spent 4 to 5 months a year in the Himalaya and Karakoram since 2004.
British Standard 8848
Our trips are compliant with British Standard 8848. This standard is to help operators run safer adventurous trips outside of the UK. This places a greater emphasis on planning and risk assessment. It also details good practice to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone joining a trip.
This should give you peace of mind that we have designed our trips to be as safe as possible. If something goes wrong then we have the contingency plans and experience to resolve for you. You should be aware our trips are adventure travel and be prepared for a level of uncertainty. Using our resources and expertise we will do our best to find a solution to any challenges encountered along the way.
International and local leaders
Unlike most UK operators we have International Leaders working on some of our trips. Technical mountaineering expeditions and treks in remote areas need leaders with their high level of skill and training. We have the best leaders with years of Himalayan experience.
We support our local guides and in Nepal & Bhutan they lead the majority of the treks for us. The professional development of our local guides is a top priority for us. We provide in house guide training for our Nepalese and Bhutanese guides. Each year our Nepalese guides attend a first aid refresher course. Our International leaders with professional qualifications also provide training during the treks. Some of our best Nepalese guides started working for us as porters. We identify the young and ambitious porters then support them to progress up the ranks.
Equipment and communications
We have invested in high quality equipment for our remote, camping treks. This includes satellite phones, two way radios, gamow bags and western branded tents. We provide satellite phones to the leaders of every group in Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan. In our store in Kathmandu we have 25 satellite phones. We send three charged batteries along with satellite phones as it is not always possible to recharge along the way.
During trekking season Roland is in regular contact with our groups in the field. As part of our BS8848 compliance we have daily communication from our leaders. We decided to improve our communications procedures after the Nepal earthquake in 2015. We use GPS coordinates from the satellite phone to update Google Maps daily. For our international led groups friends & family can also follow the group’s progress.
Our Nepal Operations
We have organised a wide range of treks in Nepal. We have a company apartment in Kathmandu used by The Mountain Company staff. This is in a good location near our group hotels of Hotel Tibet, Hotel Ambassador and Hotel Shangri La. It is also close to CIWEC Hospital and the British Embassy. The apartment is set up as our Base Camp for operations during the season. We also store a lot of our gear and equipment.
During peak season Roland will meet groups for a briefing in Kathmandu at the start of the trip. At this meeting he will introduce you to the Nepalese guide plus International guide if relevant for your trip. He will track you down on your return to Kathmandu after the trek for a debrief meeting. We are always interested to hear how the trip went and find out if there are any areas for improvement. Sometimes we make operational changes based on this feedback mid season before our next group arrives.
When in Kathmandu, Roland is on call 24/7 and being in the same time zone can quickly react to any issues that might arise. During season time the first job of each day (before even having a cup of coffee!) is to review the weather forecasts for the trekking regions in Nepal and Bhutan. We have built up experience of in house forecasting and we also use Michael Fagin at everestnews.com. When Roland is in the UK our Operations team from our Kathmandu office will support you.
At the start of each season Roland arrives early for pre-season set up. This includes checking tents and group equipment then making any necessary repairs. Our planning for each season would have been in progress for months. During this period we work on the final preparations before our groups in Kathmandu.
Our Bhutan Operations
In Spring and Autumn seasons, Roland will be in a similar time zone to Bhutan being in Kathmandu. He will support our Bhutan trips from Nepal. Roland knows Bhutan trekking well having led Lunana Snowman trek twice. He has trekked most of our Bhutan itineraries apart from new ones recce’d by Ade Summers to Dagana and Haa Valley. We have a store of equipment in Bhutan including satellite phones and Gamow bags.
Our Pakistan Operations
It was after organising an exped to climb Broad Peak in 2004 that Roland decided to set up The Mountain Company. Trekking in Karakoram is an important part of our trek portfolio. This country is unique and provides a very different experience to our other destinations. With its jagged peaks and rugged trails, Pakistan is a trekker's paradise.
Since 2004 we have built up an in-depth knowledge of Pakistan. Our groups have visited most years and we have built a strong operational capability. Roland has led groups trekking to K2 Base Camp six times and crossed Gondogoro La four times. We always send an international leader to work alongside our Pakistan guides. Roland will support our leaders from the UK with communications through the satellite phone. We have a store of equipment in Skardu including satellite phones and Gamow bags.
Our Ladakh Operations
During the Summer months of July to September we organise treks in both Pakistan and Ladakh. The Karakoram has less precipitation in the monsoon due to the rain shadow effect. Roland has climbed Stok Kangri and walked Markha Valley. Our Ladakh Sky Trail GHT trek is a unique itinerary that explores very remote areas. This has been designed for us by Almas Khan. Almas has years of experience leading and operating treks in Ladakh.
Testimonials and Feedback
As you can see over the years we have built up our operational capability and deep experience in our destination countries. Our approach to organisation of our Himalayan holidays means we have 100% rating on AITO Traveller’s Reviews. Find out about our Testimonials and Awards. Some of our recent AITO reviews are copied below:
"Wonderful support and organisation from start to finish. I felt in safe hands from the moment I signed up. Excellent follow up and a personal meeting with the tour operator Roland to hear our feedback in detail. I cannot recommend them too highly. We wanted a trip off the beaten track and we got it. Roland has an excellent understanding of the hopes, dreams and needs of his clients!" Lamjung Himal trek in Nepal by Be, 29 Jun 2020
"The Mountain Company was fantastic to deal with from start to finish. It was always clear whom we could contact, and during our initial communications that was Roland Hunter, the owner, who made sure this trip was right for us and that we were prepared. In the immediate run up to the trip we received immediate responses to all our questions, and then while on trek we were superbly cared for." Kanchenjunga Circuit in Nepal by Alice E, 6 Jan 2020
"Everything was well thought-through - the itinerary, the timing to avoid the bad weather (we had a couple of hours of rain in 3 weeks), the excellent choice of staff, the pace and length of days to allow acclimatisation, and provision of excellent information. I would certainly use the company again." Kanchenjunga Circuit in Nepal by Basher, 31 Dec 2019