Beer and bog roll all the way up
Walking in a place of ancient wisdom
Less reflective and thematic than recent blogs, this one is a simply a short collection of some memories from my recent Himalayan trek. They may inspire you to trek there too!
Our Sherpa guides! Simply wonderful. Unassuming, polite, endlessly willing and always smiling. Knowledgeable and so skilful. And full of stories of personal ascents of Everest and other major peaks.
And our porters! Amazing too. Hard working and always smiling. Carrying big weights, and magically always at our destination before us! How humbling to have these people in our service.
Laughter and stories
So much laughter! On the trail, and in the evening in the dimly lit tea-lodges. The laughing banter of new friendships and the mortal belly-aching combat of “shit-head” – a card game known to trekkers across the world.
Island Peak base camp. “The temperature inside the tents is a balmy -18 Celsius. The less good news is that the temperature outside the tent is -28 Celsius!” Top tip – if the joining pack advises you to get a sleeping bag rated at such-and-such a temperature, then do as suggested. You won’t be sorry!
Our 360 Expeditions (www.360-expeditions.com) leader Rolfe Oostra and his climbing Sherpas – Boleh, Phurba, and Mingma. These people are incredibly accomplished in their fields. They have serious big mountain experience and, in Rolfe’s case, global expedition experience. Their capacity to lead our trek was unquestionable. Moreover they had really big adventure stories to share with us all. I would have paid the money just to sit on a grassy bank and listen to these. The trek was a bonus! The whole experience was a huge privilege.
A few surprises: the home-counties housewife who found her forte at altitude, and the experienced climber who slowed right down. Food surprises: menus at every overnight stop, and always the availability – at an increasing price – of beer, mineral water, choccy bars, Pringles and bog roll! And electric surprises, too. Recharging facilities using UK 3-pin plugs all the way up. Mobile telephone coverage just about everywhere, and wi-fi too! Good thing or a bad thing?
And then there were the quiet times, really quiet times, when people had to dig really deep. Steep slopes, thin air – four little words, but a world of personal challenge. But not private challenge as everyone was incredibly supportive and understanding.
And a final riff repeated from a recent blog:
Nepal. Big-mountain views and river-roaring gorges; empty blue, cloud-less, vapour trail-less skies; silent glaciers, distantly rumbling avalanches, soft melodic yak bells, and laughing evening card-playing trekkers; “ting”ing prayer wheels, smiling “Namastes” from trackside-playing children; cold dry air reaching down backs of throats; warm, aromatic, tangy, restoring lemon tea; new friendships and a deep sense of being in a place of ancient wisdom.
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