More than a 150 mysterious, human-excavated cave systems punctuate the cliffs of Mustang, a haunting landscape in the Himalaya’s desiccated northern rain shadow. Only a handful of these caverns have been entered in modern times, but in August 2008, a team of elite climbers, explorers, archaeologists, anthropologists and art historians were granted permission to climb into the past. Their discovery of exquisite, 14th Century wall paintings, human skeletons, and more than 8,000 ancient manuscript folios promise to draw this neglected and forbidden region into the forefront of Himalayan history. (Brot Coburn)
Sponsors: National Geographic Expedition Council, CRE, National Geographic TV, The North Face, The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation and The Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation.