Travels across the Roof of the World

A Himalayan Memoir

William Frej, Anne Frej

A gorgeously illustrated, unforgettable account of the authors' twenty journeys through the Himalaya, spanning forty years, and through many areas now closed to foreigners.
Date Published :
September 2022
Publisher :
George F Thompson Publishing
Contributor(s) :
Edwin Bernbaum, Michael Tobias, Jane Gray Morrison
Illustration :
228 color photographs, 18 line-art maps, 1 full-spread map
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781938086939
Pages : 280
Dimensions : 10 X 12 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


Travels across the Roof of the World provides a sweeping yet intimate view of the breathtaking peaks, splendid valleys, and extraordinary people of this vast region, from the Pamir Mountains in Kyrgyzstan through Afghanistan’s fabled Hindu Kush, the Karakoram in Pakistan, and the Great Himalaya Range that stretches across northern India, Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan.

Unique in scope among photo books on the Himalaya, Travels across the Roof of the World chronicles William and Anne Frej’s more than twenty pilgrimages throughout the area spanning forty years and 3,000 miles through some of the world’s most remote and difficult-to-reach country. Inspired by the devotion to the practice of Tibetan Buddhism they encountered in the villagers they met on their first trek to Nepal in 1981, they set out on a quest to document Asia’s highest peaks as well as the lives of the resilient people living in these remote mountain communities.

When they began, trekkers from the West through these regions were few. Even now, trips are demanding––but not nearly as harsh as the daily lives of the residents, who continue to exist in a kind of stunning isolation that has allowed them to maintain the rich cultural traditions and spiritual practices that have sustained them over many centuries. Edwin Bernbaum’s essay adds to the depth of the pictures, with his focus on the symbolism, religious importance, and associated legends of these sacred places. The authors also share extensive vignettes about the places they saw and how they have changed over time.

About The Author

William Frej has been photographing Indigenous people for more than forty years while living in Indonesia, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Afghanistan as a career diplomat with the United States Agency for International Development and traveling in other remote, mountainous regions of Asia. His book of black-and-white photographs, Maya Ruins Revisited: In the Footsteps of Teobert Maler (2020), has won fourteen awards. His second book, Seasons of Ceremonies: Rites and Rituals in Guatemala and Mexico (2021), has won eight awards including four “photography book of the year” awards. Travels Across the Roof of the World: A Himalayan Memoir (2022) features color photographs by William Frej and text by Anne Frej.

Anne Frej is an urban planner who has focused on feasibility studies and design concepts for real estate projects in the United States, Indonesia, Central Europe, and Central Asia. At the Urban Land Institute in Washington, D.C., she directed books on real estate development, and at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, she served as a cultural resources planner.

Edwin Bernbaum, Ph.D., is a lecturer, author, and scholar of comparative religion and mythology whose work focuses on the relationship between culture and the environment. He is the author of The Way to Shambala (1989), a study of Tibetan myths and legends of hidden valleys and their symbolism. His acclaimed book, Sacred Mountains of the World, was originally published in 1990; the second edition was published by Cambridge University Press in 2022.


“William and Anne Frej have created a magnificent book that provides intimacy, acute detail, context, history, and ethnography of a vast swath of incomparable, and ecologically critical geography—the Himalaya. With nearly forty years of passionate exploration of this region––from one end to the other, beginning with Manaslu in 1981––they offer an engaging and deeply felt perspective on a subject more typically associated with the fever of conquest on the world’s highest peaks.”

- Michael Tobias and Jane Gray Morrison, from their Foreword

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