Documentary: Conquering the Himalayas

Join Si Richardson and James Lowsley-Williams as they take on a massive mission into the highest mountains in the world

Clock23:59, Monday 31st July 2023

The high Himalayas is renowned for being one of the world's most extreme places. Not only is it home to Mount Everest – or as the locals call it, Chomolungma – it is also home to all 14 of the world's 8,000-metre peaks, the world's highest lake, the world's deepest gorge, and Buddhism, one of the oldest practised religions.

Climbers, trekkers and pilgrims alike travel to the inaccessible and remote villages and peaks around Nepal to explore the geographic and anthropologic fascinations that exist in the mountains. For mountain climbers, the Himalayas are the ultimate destination. For cyclists, however, it's hardly on the radar.

With roads that are either incredibly crowded in the low-land around Kathmandu, or incredibly rugged in the passes and canyons in the mountains above, it is brutal terrain for cycling. Up until around six to seven years ago, bikes could hardly handle the multitude of demands of cycling in the Himalayas.

Nevertheless, bikes have certainly changed and much of the technological innovation has been focused on the capabilities of bikes to do many things more capably. And with that capability, new places open up for cycling exploration.

With some of these capable bikes in tow, we took on one of our more far-flung adventures with Si Richardson and James 'Hank' Lowsley-Williams, plotting a point-to-point route from the low-lands of Kathmandu to the heady heights of the remote swaths of the Himalaya. In this GCN+ documentary, Si and Hank delve headfirst into a bike-packing mission that was in equal parts a cycling and cultural journey.

Over the course of five days and almost 500km, the pair took on breathtaking views, lung-busting climbs, and incredible encounters with locals along the ancient trade route that forges a path between Nepal and Tibet to the mysterious ‘Forbidden Kingdom’, the remote mountaintop city of Lo Manthang. Their epic ride sees them dicing with kamikaze trucks, enduring freezing rainstorms, eating tons of delicious tea-house curries, taking a 228m bungee jump, and even an attempt to beat a massive Himalayan KOM.

All of these adventures and experiences are rendered in spectacular cinematography in this instalment of the GCN+ adventure documentary series.

Check out the trailer for the new documentary Himalayas above and be sure to subscribe to GCN+ to watch a deep archive of bespoke cycling documentaries, as well as live racing from across the calendar and around the world.

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