The Himalayas are the youngest and the highest mountains in the world. It extends over 2,400 km as a vast south-facing area between the Indus and Brahmaputra rivers with Nanga Parbat (8,125m) and Namcha Barwa (7,755m) as its terminal high points. Fully a third of 800 km of its central section traverses Nepal and is known as the Nepal Himalayas, Here congregate more than 250 peaks that exceed 6,000m in height-a unique concentration of lofty dazzling summits. Of the thirty one Himalayan peaks over 7,600m, twenty-two like in Nepal Himalayas including eight of the world’s fourteen highest picks. These are:
Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) —–8,848m
Cho Oyu —————————-8,201m
The Himalayan range within Nepal fits into a geographic pattern as the culmination of a series of parallel ranges. The main mountain region, represented by the eternal ranges, lies about 90 kms north of the Mahabharat Lekh. The intervening space between the two parallel ranges is made up of the lower belt of the low hills (Pahar) and the higher belt of elevated ridges (Lekh) that provide the first intimation of the high snow continuous range but rather a chain of lofty ridges separated by deep gorges. Each of these mountain chains or Himals in turn sends out a maze of spurs studded with numerous peaks.
In the western and central Nepal, there is yet another mountain range that defines the boundary between Nepal and China. This border range has elevations ranging from 5,000 to 6,000m with comparatively less rugged relief but a harsh climate. Between the main Himalayan range and these border ranges lie some of the elevated Bhot Valleys.
Much of the high country above 5,000 m is under the realm of snow and ice although the permanent snow line may vary according to aspect and gradient. Winter snowfall occurs up to an elevation of 2,000 m and is much heavier in the western part. While winter is harsh and bitter, summer is the season of alpine flowers and is the time of the year when the high pastures teem with grazing animals from lower valleys. For the mountain communities, it is the time for harvesting their main crop before their winter migration to warmer climates.
The Himalayan region abounded in glaciers. Most of the biggest glaciers lie in the eastern Himalayas. As the western Himalayas receive only a small amount of rainfall, barring the formation of vast snowfields, the source of some of the large rivers of Nepal are in fact glaciers.
Nepal’s largest glacier lies in the Mahalangur and the Kumbhakarna ranges. Khumbu is the biggest glacier and Langtang the longest. Kanchenjunga, Yalung, Nupchu and Lamtang are some other glaciers belonging to the eastern Himalayas. Tukche and Hidden valley glaciers belong to the central Himalayas but these are comparatively small. Eating into the land along their course, the glaciers have been partly responsible for changing the Himalayan landscape, and for evolving various geo-patterns ranging from big cirques and rock basins to hanging valleys and morainic ridges.