Alex Sebastian, Loie Sauer and Harrison Hood – Journey into the Ancient Kingdom of Lo

Location: Round Table Pizza, 2065 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa

Time & Date: Tuesday, March 3, 2020 @ 7:30 PM (Social hour and free beer for members at 6:30)

Directions: From Highway 101 at Santa Rosa go west on Highway 12 to Stony Point Road Exit. Go straight from the middle lane at the light onto Occidental Road. The Round Table Pizza is on the right just down the road.

On their recent trip, Alex, Loie and Harrison journey with the American Himalayan Foundation a full day out of Pokhara, Nepal by jeep up the Kali Gandaki River, then 5 days by horseback through the ancient Kingdom of Lo to their final destination, Lo Monthang, the region’s walled capital city, founded in 1380. Now known as Upper Mustang, the region is located in the rain shadow of the Annapurna Range allowing them passage during the Himalayan monsoon season.

Mustang is one of the last vestiges of pure Tibetan Buddhist culture. Ironically, this region of Nepal bulges northward into Tibet but so far China has respected Nepal’s border and therefore Mustang has not experienced the devastation that has resulted in Tibet.

Along the way they visit many of the villages where the AHF has humanitarian projects ranging from schools and daycare centers to clinics and a Mother’s collective. Upon reaching Lo Monthang, they bear witness to the sacred art restoration work orchestrated by the AHF over 20 years within the Thubchen gompa (monastery). Luigi Fieni, a master restoration artist, has spent the last two decades teaching local artists in restoration techniques using natural pigments and ancient methods. Please visit luigifieni.com for more information on their work.

Mustang’s terrain is extremely rugged and vast with the feel that several Grand Canyons could easily fit within a single vista. At the outset, traveling by horseback seemed like it would be a preferred mode of transport but they were surprised how exhausting such travel could be. Peter Matthiessen, author of The Snow Leopard, wrote of this region in his 1995 book, East of Lo Monthang.

Some twenty years ago, Rock Ice & Mountain Club founder Harrison Hood brought Alex Sebastian into the fold as a volunteer with the American Himalayan Foundation, a non-profit organization which funds humanitarian work in the Himalayas. Dr. Loie Sauer has now joined the ranks. Projects include healthcare, hospitals and schools, Stop Girl Trafficking, and cultural revival. These projects help vulnerable people across the Himalaya put distance between themselves and desperation, allowing them dignity and providing hope. Please visit www.himalayan-foundation.org for more information on this incredible foundation.

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"Altitude is the great equalizer"
— Anonymous