Just Another Adventure Story

Editor’s Comment:

I met Robert Holmes over 30 years ago.  We first met at a photography seminar that he conducted at Point Reyes National Seashore.  Over the next several years we got to know each other during other seminars and photo shoots.  I found out he had shoot for National Geographic and had traveled all over the world. 

Even though Bob is much older than me ( he was born in Mach 1943 and I was not born until July 1943) we became friends. From our conversations I learned that he had shot extensively in India.  In fact he encouraged me to take a couple of months off and go to India to shoot.  “Play it safe” Munden did not follow through on that trip.

In 2001 when I moved back to Texas, which in some ways is like a third world country,  we lost contact.  All I remembered is that he lived in Mill Valley California.  

About 6 years ago I was attending a block party in Novato California.  Noticed a guy across the room.  I though, “That guy looks a lots like Bob Holmes.”  After I noticed he was staring back at me,  I walked his direction.  At that point me both knew who the other person was.  My hair was shorter than the last time we met.  Bob’s was even shorter.  That was the only difference.  Our conversation took off where we had left off.

As it turned out I was staying with my ex-wife and her husband in the house I had lived in for 15 years.  Bob had moved from Mill Valley and was living in a house three doors down from my old house.  Since that meeting I always try to touch base with Bob during my yearly trips to California.

Bob has lived an exciting live but he rarely provides any details.  COVID-19 has changed all our lives.  Bob’s normal busy travel schedule has come to  an halt.  He has had the time reflect of his past expediences. He first published the attached  story in 2018 and re-posted it a couple of days ago.  This is what real adventurers do.

Ron Munden

and now the real story

Robert Holmes’ career as one of the world’s most successful and prolific travel photographers has extended over 40 years. He is the only photographer to be honored five times by the Society of American Travel Writers with their Travel Photographer of the Year award, most recently for 2017.

He has worked for National Geographic, Geo, Saveur, Life, Time and hundreds of other major magazines and international companies.

His assignments have taken him from coverage of the 1975 British Everest Expedition to searching for snow leopards in the remote valleys of western Nepal for National Geographic Magazine.

Bob has illustrated over 50 books and he has regularly been one of the elite group of the world’s 100 best photojournalists invited to participate in the acclaimed “Day in the Life” series.

Bob is a Fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club.

“The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong — that’s when adventure starts.”

– Yvon Chouinard

One misstep would have sent us careening down the mountainside, but caution was not a luxury we could afford, so we moved as fast as we could in the pitch darkness of night. Behind us, an angry mob from the village of Hispar was gaining ground.

The ice axe was still in my hands.

I was exhausted. I was supposed to be documenting the achievements of the scientists and explorers on our team. I had planned on climbing tall mountains and taking awe inspiring photographs. The rescue helicopter, the descent of the glacier, the sickness — none of that was part of the plan. Neither was being chased down a mountainside in the Himalaya.

There, in a remote valley in the middle of the night, the men who chased us were out for blood — my porter Ali’s blood, and my potentially-hepatitis-laden blood.


The Karakoram mountains rise where present-day Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, and India come together — the result of tectonic collisions. It is a land of turbulence: earthquakes that change the faces of mountains; wars that change the borders of nations.

The eponymous highway winds treacherously across deserts and over mountains with frequent, sometimes-deadly, hairpin turns. Today, the Karakoram Highway connects Karachi, Pakistan on the coast of the Indian Ocean to Beijing, China. It is a 4,500-mile-long feat of civil engineering that many have traveled and some call the eighth wonder of the world. But back in July of 1980, the Karakoram Highway was newly built, barely completed, often unnavigable, and off limits to foreigners.

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