Despite much change, the Nepalese capital’s staggering views and warm memories are as vivid as ever for the veteran mountaineer and leader of 19 Himalayan expeditions
New flights from the UK have opened up the country’s unspoilt north west, an area of mighty peaks, flower meadows and fantastic hiking country
Free climbing the Dawn Wall of El Capitan was an exhilarating experience – one of many in a career that has allowed Caldwell to see the world from on high
From the Park of Letters the road to Amberd is not in great condition and it’s just as well there’s not much traffic around as drivers have to avoid large potholes and large cracks in the tarmac every few hundred yards. Amberd Fortress is one of those old places where visitors can climb all over the ruins without their being any warnings, in any language. The walls are mainly, but not all, in good condition and I enjoyed scrambling along one wall to a corner tower where I enjoyed tremendous views towards the mountains along a river gorge. If you suffer from vertigo though, don’t attempt this route as there’s a long drop on all sides.
The present Amberd fortress dates from the 12th Century although there had been a stronghold at this site 500 years prior to this date. The fortress withstood the Mongols invaders in 1236, but was eventually abandoned in 1408. The church beneath the fortress, referred to as either the Vahramashen Church or Amberd Church, dates from 1026 and is worth a visit to see the umbrella-shaped cupola and the views the church enjoys.
Attitudes to Alpine wilderness have changed in the 150 years since the Matterhorn was first climbed: these cutting-edge new buildings treat the mountains gently, while still looking great
The deep gorges of Bulgaria’s Rhodope mountains are said to hold the secret to health and long life
These accessible gorges provide stunning views and great walking adventures without requiring the visitor to climb high peaks