How to: Camping in the Himalaya

Photos from Himalaya expeditions often seem to be taken in another world. There’s a couple of people in extremely thick jackets with an intense look on their face. Somewhere a little off you’ll find a scattered group of dome-shaped tents. In the background, mighty mountains of snow and ice are watching in silence.

When looking at such pictures, it’s easy to forget that even the greatest adventurers once started as beginners and got their knowledge piece by piece. We talked to Nils from the creative agency Third Pole, who told us why, even as an experienced Himalaya mountaineer, you’ll have to ponder about your packing list again every time. And why changing underwear in freezing temperatures doesn’t get easier, either.

Hello Nils! Tell us, what exactly do you do in the Himalaya?
At Third Pole, we mostly do expedition reporting, like for our last eight-thousander expedition. We also shoot ads for outdoor companies and realize our own ideas, like theTrail of Change project, which deals with the changes that are happening in the high mountains. Our roots are in high mountain research and film. For ten years now, we have regularly taken trips to the Himalaya and altogether spend about one year there.

How long does it take to do the packing for such an expedition? How do you decide what to take with you and what to leave home?
The packing list is always a result of the experiences we made on earlier trips, which is why they are constantly redone, things are being added to and reduced from it. The most important things is to take the least possible (regarding the weight) but not to leave out anything that’s essential.

What’s different when camping in high mountains compared to lower realms?
The weather is changing more rapidly, you have to be prepared for anything at anytime. There are special dangers like crevasses, rockfall or avalanches, which you don’t have in flat country, of course.

How do you stay warm when it’s freezing all around you all the time? What’s most important for clothing, your tent and food?
Lots of hot drinks! Tea is great for staying warm. Apart from that: Layered clothing with lots and lots of down! Mittens instead of full-fingered gloves, show that rather are a size too big for an extra air buffer, and don’t wear wet shoes or socks and use two camping mats instead of just one. The tent shouldn’t be too big, otherwise you won’t be able to keep it warm. A good apsis is important, where you can cook and keep your shoes away from the snow.

Now, put your hand on your heart: How do you change your underwear when it’s way below zero all around you?
You don’t (laughing). No…it’s acutally not that bad. When it’s really cold, you just change it in your warm sleeping bag. My tip: Merino wool! It’s super warm and doesn’t smell.

Favorite meal in the camp?
Chicken Curry, Mixed Fruit Cocktail, Candy, Olives and a sip of Jägermeister.

What’s next for you?
Alongside lots of smaller projects, doing film and photography as well as social media and web design, we’ll realize some great projects in the Alps, before continuing out Trail of Change project in Nepal in fall. There, we’ll create a new trekking map of the Annapurna region, travel on a six-thousander by ski and snowboard and document the expedition on film and with photos live on the internet. Starting mid-October, you can follow our expedition on and folgen.