Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Next Himalayan Chapter

Surprising how fast three years can zip by when you aren't paying attention. When I left the Himalayas in May of 2008, I was convinced that this unique part of the world- a mecca for climbers looking to sharpen their teeth on mountains unlike anywhere else on earth- would be a recurring zone for me. In some ways, it has been- and continues to be. Friendships that I had made years ago continue to flourish and grow. Thanks to social networking tools such as Facebook and email, communications are much easier to maintain. Other climbing friends have returned, time and time again to tackle the far-off peaks whose names now dribble off the tongue with ease. It really has been an interesting few years in this light to say the least, only the path that I have followed to get here is not nearly the one that I had expected it to be. Not really a surprise, that's the way I have found it to always be and life's plan rarely ever gives one hints on what lays in store.

Over the past three years I have been back to Nepal several times now. Perhaps this is because to me, Nepal has always been and continues to be one of the singlemost places where I feel like my spirit is truly free. The cares of the world drift away. Time stops. Earthy and sky colors take on hues unlike anywhere else on the planet. The streets of Kathmandu echo with laughter intertwined with Buddhist chants and the clatter of cyclos. I relish every minute here and thoroughly enjoy how enriched I feel zen-wise after just a few days.

I look back on these trips fondly, and appreciate that almost all memories include someone who I was able to share them with- no matter how unique. This includes a return into the depths of Bardia National Forest to look for the elusive Bengal Tiger, only this time on foot and not from the protective height of an elephant's back. In 2008, Dad and I spent 24 hours on the back of elephants hunting through 10' high grass to see a tiger for 2 seconds. What can only be described as a mishmash of adrenaline, boredom, intrigue and physical discomfort to see one of nature's most rare and beautiful of creatures in it's natural habitat truly does disservice to the experience, as it is one of Dad's and my highlight adventures together and I wouldn't trade it for the world. But what amazes me is that I managed to make it back there. The country of Nepal is as remote as it gets, and Bardia is a day's travel from Kathmandu. So to have the immense fortune to return, and to have friends that actually work and live there, dedicating their careers to protecting Nepal's wildlife is incredibly special. To drop off an elephant, enter the food chain and wander the forest in search of creatures who had killed and eaten our guides father in the mid-80's is a bit insane. But, exciting nonetheless.

So this may explain why this time around, for this particular climb on Amadablam (22,300') isn't as full of chaos and wonderment as the 2008 Everest climb was. I know people there, from the Sherpas who I'll be climbing alongside, the team administrators who are pulling together permits and back-end logistics, the dear and close friends who I consider brothers & am now tied in with their businesses- tourism, hotels, wildlife. Nepal, to me is a nation fill of warm-spirited, smiling people whose hearts are bursting from their chests. I am fully confident that in reaching Kathmandu, the portions of the trip not fully in-place will take form quickly as typically is the case there. All my gear is packed and in the belly of a 777 bound for Thailand and I'm excited to just get boots to trail and set off for base camp.

I left Seattle yesterday after one of the most chaotic and time intensive months I have spent in a job. Microsoft is now completing it's annual Giving Campaign (a monthlong period where people give back to their community through donations, volunteer hours and events designed to bring attention to charities and causes) and having been heavily caught up in that, my ability to do things like pack for Amadablam distilled down into a 3 hour whirlwind of activity the night before I flew, and the day of travel.

Before I knew it, the time had come to leave for Sea-Tac and the last of the packing was complete. Then I winged it off to Japan, and the first leg of this new adventure was underway.

No comments: