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The Frozen River

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In 1976 James Crowden left his career in the British army and travelled to Ladakh in the Northern Himalaya, one of the most remote parts of the world. The Frozen River is his extraordinary account of the time he spent there, living alongside the Zangskari people, before the arrival of roads and mass tourism.

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’Imagine if your family had lived in the mountains for a thousand years or more, what effect would that have upon your mind and your thinking?’

In 1976 James Crowden left his career in the British army and travelled to Ladakh in the Northern Himalaya, one of the most remote parts of the world. The Frozen River is his extraordinary account of the time he spent there, living alongside the Zangskari people, before the arrival of roads and mass tourism.

James immerses himself in the Zangskari way of life, where meditation and week-long mountain festivals go hand in hand, and silence and solitude are the hallmarks of existence. When butter traders invite James on their journey down the frozen river Leh, he soon realises that this way of living, unchanged for centuries, comes with a very human cost.

In lyrical prose, James captures a crucial moment in time for this Himalayan community. A moment in which their Buddhist practices and traditions are in flux, and the economic pull of a world beyond their valley is increasingly difficult to ignore.

‘What a fascinating, immersive, hair-raising read. I just loved the way you invited me, the reader, into your experience and observations of life in this remote high corner of the world. Your description and understanding of Buddhism, and its profound commingling with every aspect of life, I found really moving. The journeys in the book were outstanding. Getting there. Then the trip down the frozen river, wonderful story-telling. But the best was saved for last: the solo ski trip was terrifying!’ Tim Pears, author of In the Place of Fallen Leaves

‘A wonderful book, otherworldly, full of the ecstasies and revelations of true isolation and hardship.’ Philip Marsden, author of Rising Ground

‘A luminous book, exquisite in its depiction, profound in its rhymes of ice and mind.’ Jay Griffiths, author of Wild

Front cover by Joe Maclaren.

Additional information

Weight 0.6 kg
Dimensions 25 × 17 × 4 cm

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