Skiing Nepal and Pakistan: A New Winter Trend?

At least two expeditions are preparing to carve new ski lines on Himalayan peaks this  winter.

Luke Smithwick, vigorously pioneering ski routes in the Greater Ranges, is ready to continue his “500 lines” project. Smithwick has already tried twice this year. He aborted one expedition because of the lockdown and the second because of lack of snow. Now, as winter comes on, he is ready for a third attempt.

One of the lines that Smithwick is eyeing in the Karakorum. “It’s bigger than it looks and has never been skied before,” he says.


“I have two expeditions planned in the Karakorum, aiming for new ski lines at  4,000 to 6,500m,” Smithwick told ExplorersWeb. “This is only possible in the coldest months.”

He also has two winter expeditions planned in central Nepal, at approximately the same altitude. And next spring and summer, he will ski higher up in both ranges.

Currently, Smithwick is training at home in Montana, while waiting for more snow to fall and conditions in Pakistan’s mountains to improve. “The Karakorum was bone dry in late autumn this year, says Smithwick. “It was so different from 2019, when by now we were skiing just over the border in Kashmir.”

Sophie Lenaerts from Belgium is leading a second team of skiers into Pakistan. She has already applied for a visa but the expedition is still in its early stages of organization, especially regarding personnel. “We might be five people or just my husband and I,” Lenaerts told ExplorersWeb.

Their financing and specific ski lines also remain uncertain at this stage. “In fact, our preferred destination is Nepal, but we have limited time and we need to check whether a quarantine will be needed.”

Another reason for Nepal: The Lenaerts run an NGO that teaches Nepali youngsters how to ski and snowboard, so that they can eventually guide ski tours in their home mountains.

Meanwhile, the Lenaerts face not only potential restrictions and delays in Nepal, but also in Europe, where the second wave of coronavirus has led to more lockdowns. Still, using winter in the Himalaya and Karakorum to ski new lines at mid-range altitudes may become a trend.

Ski tourers in Nepal: wave of the future?