A Historic Season In Nepal
The 2014 Spring trekking season in Nepal came to a close last month. As many know, it was a tragic season on Everest this year, when 16 Nepali Sherpa lost their lives in preparation for the 2014 climbing season. However despite this tragic loss of life, MM trekkers were able to successfully travel to Everest Base Camp and ceremoniously pay their respects. Read about this year’s trek in the words of MM Guide Deana Zabaldo and MM client Brian Bogdanovich.
“Tomorrow I begin my second trek of the season, my 20th trip to Everest Base Camp. This year, the mountains are no less spectacular than when I first saw them, but I am bereft of new description. The extreme geography is comfortingly familiar, the dirt trails well-worn in my memory. The mountains fill my soul with an unsuppressable joy. I hike easily, greeting friends and former staff along the way, describing gods and history, relishing the fresh air after days in the particulate mass enshrouding Kathmandu.
Relaxing with a stunning backdrop. Deana Zabaldo photo
The tragic deaths of 16 Sherpas (13 dead, 3 missing) in an Icefall avalanche this week means summit expeditions are likely canceling their whole season. Out of respect for the dead, coping with their loss, and concerns about it being a “black year” for climbing, Sherpa support staff don’t want to climb this season. It underscores for me a major difference between Sherpas and foreign climbers. For most Sherpas, climbing Everest is not a hobby nor a passion. It’s a dangerous job that most do to support their families in the lack of a better opportunity. Sherpas are the backbone of Everest expeditions, and I honor their strength and courage in such dangerous work. My heart is saddened by the loss, and by the grief of the families they left behind.
Our hardworking kitchen staff. Deana Zabaldo photo
Trekking is an entirely different experience. We walk every day as the landscape changes from lush and green, to high alpine scrub, and then to rock, ice, and sky. We absorb the culture, the sunshine or snow, and the smiles of our Nepali staff (who are also incredibly hard working!). As negotiations continue between summit teams and Sherpas, we make our way lightly among the mountains, unsure of what we’ll find when we reach Everest Base Camp. Regardless, the journey is where the magic resides.”
~ MM Guide Deana Zabaldo
Fun with the first trekking group. Deana Zabaldo photo
“Trekking to Everest Base Camp far exceeded what I ever expected from the experience! My goal was to get to Base Camp, but what made this trip one I will never forget were the visits to Buddhist monasteries, being blessed by a Lama, hiking to the top of Kala Pattar for Everest views, a guided tour of Thamel to find the best souvenir shops, and much more.
Group photo with Ama Dablam in the background. Brian Bogdanovich photo
The small things like Sherpa staff checking your room every morning after you’ve packed up to be sure you haven’t forgotten items really added to the value of this trip. Deana takes the trekking experience to a whole other level. It will be hard to imagine finding on future treks, a more organized and knowledgeable guide. Her ability to speak the language and her good relationship with locals in various villages will take you to places most trekkers will not go. I understand why she was selected “2013 Guide of the Year” from the UK Magazine, Wanderlust.
Brian with Pasang Sherpa at the end of the trek. Brian Bogdanovich photo
In addition to the tremendous scenery, our group had great chemistry sharing and helping each other along the way to achieve the final goal of spending the night at the base of the “Mother of Earth” – Mount Everest!”
~ MM Client Brian Bogdanovich