Adventure Photographer Andrew Miller spent over a month in the Himalaya last year with Teton Gravity Research for their upcoming film HIGHER. He compiled a visual journey of their expedition and we're proud to share it.
Immediately arriving in Kathmandu, its full on sensory overload. From the hustle and bustle of the street's outdoor markets to the vibrant temples there is so much to soak in and capture. Half of the HIGHER/TGR production crew arrived a few days early to explore all the nooks and crannies to best capture the feel and look of this unique city.
Jeremy Jones and Luca Pandolfi explore one of the most sacred grounds among Buddhism, the Swayambhunath temple, high above the Katmandu valley. (According to Swayambhu Purana, the entire valley was once filled with an enormous lake, out of which grew a lotus. The valley came to be known as Swayambhu, meaning "Self-Created". The name comes from an eternal self-existent flame over which a sūpa was later built.)
As much as there is to see in the city the call of the Himalaya is strong and it quickly becomes time to head into the mountains. A 40 min flight through the foothills lands you on the sketchiest hillside airport in the world; Lukla. The small town is were the journey on foot began.
Jeremy and Luca crossing into the beyul Khumbu – a sacred hidden valley of the Sherpa people. The lower valleys were overgrowing with thick green foliage with waterfalls around every corner of the trail. It was hard to believe we would soon be high up on a frozen glacier.
About three days into the trek we reached the town of Namche, considered to be “The gateway to the Himalaya". Just 20 minutes out of town you get your first view of Mt Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. The whole crew was buzzing and it finally felt like we were really here in the heart of the Himayala.
Basecamp -16,500 ft. This was our home for the next three weeks. We all had individual tents, a shower, bathroom, media tent, and kitchen and dining tent. Lets just say the Nepalese outfitters have their camping scene dialed. This was our first clear evening after a week at camp. The vibrant sky was a warm welcome after spending a week hunkered down in rain, fog and snow.
After settling into our new home we still had yet to see the spine wall we came halfway across the world for. The next week was spent exploring our surroundings while realizing we had a 3 plus mile loose boulder field between basecamp and the start of the glacier. This sparked a need for a establishing a high camp to be closer to our objective.
_high camp at 17,700ft nestled below the one of the most amazing spine walls I had ever seen. This whole scene was quite surreal for me since just a couple weeks before I had seen a similar view from a photo Jeremy had texted to me asking if I wanted to be apart of this expedition. In the days leading up to leaving for this adventure I can’t tell you how many times I stared at that image on my phone wondering what it would be like to see it in person.
High camp was so breathtaking, we all just wanted to stay up there the whole time. Because of the weather and our bodies still adjusting to the elevation we usually spent two to three day stints at high camp. It took quite awhile to unlock the glacier puzzle, we had to figure out the best angles to shoot from and how Jeremy and Luca were going to tackle this monster spine wall. This trip was planned to catch the tail end of the monsoon season in hope for a storm exactly like this. 30-plus days into the trip Luca Pandolfi strapped into his snowboard for the 2nd time to sample some very rare Himalaya powder at 20,000ft.
Jeremy Jones descending from the Throne room of the mountain gods at 21,400ft. - “I was really surprised how hard the snowboarding was at altitude. A few months prior to this trip, I snowboarded off Denali and felt pretty good. But this was much more demanding terrain and every turn required an explosive movement. It felt like snowboarding underwater. All I can compare it to is my worst hold-downs in surfing, where I would come up seeing black spots. I've never maxed out my lungs quite like that. The line was relentless. Normally halfway down a face the slope starts to flatten out, but on Shangri La it actually got a few degrees steeper.”
Day 33 – This group photo was taken a few hours after Jeremy had finished riding his 21,400 ft spine line. Spirits were soaring, everybody was buzzing, camp was packed up and we were ready to start our decent down to basecamp. I can’t thank this group of amazing humans enough for a trip of a lifetime. Namatse. (L – R: Luca Pandolfi, Jeremy Jones, Rajaan, Tula, Matty Moo, Doa, Nimatashi , Nick Kalisz, Chris Figenshau & myself)
Ten-time Big Mountain Rider of the Year winner Jeremy Jones and his crew are elevating their game and taking their quest to the next level for the third and final installment of the DEEPER, FURTHER, HIGHER trilogy. To learn more about Jeremy Jones' HIGHER film and to find a city where it will be screening visit Teton Gravity's website. To see more of Andrew's work visit his website. Andrew used Goal Zero's Sherpa 100 Power Pack and Nomad 13 Solar Panel to keep his gear running off the grid. Learn more about Goal Zero and how it can power your next adventure here.