The dangerous beauty of the Himalayas

Imja Glacier, which is the source of water to Imja Tsho Image copyright Neil A White

Photographers in search of a dramatic landscape are often drawn to extreme regions of the planet. One of those is Neil White, whose latest project, When The Wave Comes From The Mountain, documents an area of the Himalayas in Nepal and across the border in India.

White's work focuses on three lakes, Imja Tsho, Spong Togpo and Tsho Rolpa, and the changing landscape that he believes is the result of a warming climate. The title is derived from an event known as a Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF), where the natural dam holding the water in is breached, with potentially disastrous consequences as a wave floods down the mountain.

"I first visited the Nepal region of the Himalayas in 1996 while travelling the world," says White. "The sheer beauty of the mountains towering majestically above me, with their snow-capped peaks and huge glaciers moulding around them, was simply breathtaking.

"Returning again after 15 years, I was no less overwhelmed, but it quickly became clear to me just how much the landscape had changed, and not for the better."

Scientists are continually monitoring the glacial lakes that are thought to pose the biggest threat to communities in the valleys below.

"Photographing the three glacial lakes was an intense and emotional experience for me," says White. "So many thoughts passed through my mind as I worked to capture the landscape. The only moment of real clarity and peace I found was under the dark cloth, looking through the viewfinder of my large format camera."

"Each lake has a different personality, which in turn created unique feelings and a distinct response from me," he adds.

"As I photographed the lakes, I was struck not only by their beauty, but also by the ugliness that had created them, and the utter devastation they could cause if they burst."

White cites the work of 19th Century Italian mountaineer and photographer, Vittorio Sella, who he says, "captured a moment in history when the landscape was virtually undisturbed".

Here is a selection of White's landscape photographs.

Image copyright Neil A White

In the distance, Imja Tsho glacial lake can be seen surrounded by mountains which include, on the left Mja Tse (Island Peak), Num Ri and Baruntse.

Image copyright Neil A White

Small glacial ponds are forming on the moraine dam of Imja Tsho glacial lake. Over time, these ponds will increase in size and could become part of the lake.

Image copyright Neil A White

A small lake has formed close to the natural dam of Imja Tsho glacial lake.

Image copyright Neil A White

Looking down the valley where the Spong Togpo river flows. In the event of Spong Togpo glacial lake breaking its moraine dam, the flood water would flow down this river.

Image copyright Neil A White

Several water channels come down from the Spong Togpo glacial lake and glaciers, which make the Spong Togpo river.

Image copyright Neil A White

Looking down the valley where water from the Spong Togpa glacial lake flows

Image copyright Neil A White

The village of Chukhung, which is the closest settlement to Imja Tsho.

Image copyright Neil A White

Tsho Rolpa Lake, in the distance Mountain Range and the Trakarding Glacier which feeds water to the lake.

You can see more of Neil White's work on his website.