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Everest with Mountain Madness

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