An illness in a Himalayan retreat was a proving-ground for parsing the frustrations of inertia from its small solaces

Sickness, frustration, a geographically diminished existence — it recently occurred to me that I had experienced something like this before.

I’d arrived in Delhi in mid-September 2010, as the monsoon was giving way to the clearer skies of fall. I had been on the move for nine months, first busing…


Photo by Diego Jimenez on Unsplash

Try not to mourn the holidays you won’t be taking this summer. We all need to get used to travelling less anyway.

It was early evening, one day last August, when I found myself standing on a rocky buttress, cheering the sudden onset of clouds. A fresh weather-front was barrelling in over the Altai massif, and now the clouds were pluming at the mountaintops, draping columns of rain. By now, after four…


Khuanitkhan, one of the famous eagle-hunters of the Mongolian Altai region, stands with his golden eagle.

A cynic seeks to rediscover the art of wonder in the West Mongolian mountains.

Text by Henry Wismayer; Images by Marcus Westberg

It was early evening in the Chikhertai Valley when I found myself standing on a weathered buttress, cheering the sudden onset of clouds.

A fresh weather-front was barrelling in over the Altai massif, and now the clouds were pluming at the mountaintops…


The Garhwal Himalayas, India.

Some of us just can’t help seeing a peak without wondering what might be visible from its summit, and we’re not sure why.

If you offered to transport me anywhere on earth for a day, I’d choose a meadow in India beneath the mountain of my dreams. Picture it: a long crescent ridge curls uphill, then sharpens into a pinnacle of ice over 25,000 feet high, the jet-stream whipping a ribbon of cloud…


A storm on the horizon.

Both forks lead you into the storm, but the destinations are not the same.

You take the right fork, below the sign labelled FEAR.

The road ahead is cracked and cruel. But you trust the people who coaxed you this way, because you are scared…


Britain’s class system is back. Did it ever go away?

A couple of months ago, not far from where I live, Nigel Farage attended the 400th anniversary of Dulwich College, a private school in leafy south London. According to people I know who went along, he spent the evening surrounded by a coterie of men in pin-stripe blazers. Word is…


That pitch you just sent? It’s probably rubbish.

Photo by Elijah O'Donnell on Unsplash

Like thousands of other impoverished masochists, I make my living as a freelance writer.

One of the peculiar things this has imbued me with, other than an ability to remain undressed well into the afternoon, is a talent for interpreting the subtextual messages that underlie the editor’s necessarily pithy communications.


A hiker walks through a glen on the Svaneti Trail, an hour out of Mestia, Georgia’s trekking hub.

A trek along Georgia’s Svaneti Trail offers a time-warp world of medieval villages and jaw-dropping scenery.

My first sight of the Greater Caucasus appeared like a crepuscular dream. I was asleep, prostrate on the rear seat of a minivan, when a bump in the mountain road jolted me into consciousness. Through the window, the dawn was all but obscured by a bastion of rock so endless…


Last night, after watching ‘Climate Change: The Facts’, the BBC’s terrifying synopsis of what we have done to the planet, and where it is taking us, I went upstairs to my kids’ bedroom and watched them sleeping for a long, long time.

I watched their chests rise and fall, breathing…


There were still blanks on the map of Europe after all.

Long before I even got there, the Rusenski Lom Nature Park had seemed a reluctant destination. A brief note in the guidebook had outlined the basics: the park consisted of a twisting series of gorges in northern Bulgaria, incised into a limestone plateau by one of the rivers that fed…

Henry Wismayer

Essays, features and assorted ramblings for over 80 publications, inc. NYT Magazine, WaPo, NYT, The Atlantic, WSJ, Nat Geo, and TIME: www.henry-wismayer.com.

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