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Back in Kathmandu and a Maoist greeting, of sorts!

We all rel­ish the com­forts of civ­i­liza­tion, but every­one does R&R in their own way. We have a final day in Kathmandu…for shop­ping the daz­zling array of wares in absurd­ly small stores packed with all they can hold…for gaz­ing up at 17th cen­tu­ry pago­da tem­ples stretch­ing into the sky of the palace square…for laz­ing by the pool with a beer.

All that hap­pened, but not as expect­ed. As it turned out, we returned to an unfor­tu­nate­ly typ­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Nepal: a nation­wide shut­down in polit­i­cal protest. The Maoist par­ty is try­ing to reassert con­trol, and the cur­rent gov­ern­ment refus­es to step down with­out exact­ing some con­ces­sions and com­mit­ments. While some feared vio­lence, the protest march­es have been entire­ly peaceful.

Video: Peace­ful Maoist Protest March in Kathmandu 

As for our group…I called shop­keep­er friends and restau­rant own­ers who opened their shut­tered gates long enough to allow us in. We spent an easy day by the pool, in the gar­den, and watch­ing Ever­est climb­ing movies. After a deli­cious din­ner, I arranged a night­time rick­shaw tour of pago­da tem­ples and sacred court­yards – mag­ic in the dark and qui­et peace of the city at rest.

We part, we return to oth­er lives, and we car­ry new visions…of Nepal, of each oth­er, and of ourselves.

Wrap­ping Up Trekking Sea­son in Nepal

Spe­cial thanks to Helly Hansen for fan­tas­tic new EBC gear this sea­son! I already appre­ci­at­ed the qual­i­ty and style, but now that I’ve seen our Nepali staff put these jack­ets to the test, I’m tru­ly impressed! (And so are they! All the sher­pas want a red HH jack­et. Lit­tle do they know the best HH gear for me has been hid­den the whole time: ther­mal base layers!)

Deana and Pemba

Some­times guid­ing a trip to Ever­est Base Camp is like this:

Hap­py and excit­ed trekkers lis­ten­ing to me weave sto­ries of Nepali his­to­ry and cul­ture as we walk through our days — yoga and stretch­ing in the sun­shine of an alpine val­ley with only the sound of wind and glacial streams around us — sto­ries of climb­ing and adven­ture, dan­ger and res­cues, told by Pem­ba over din­ner — prayer flags whip­ping in the wind on the roofs of vil­lage homes and strung across high pass­es — yak car­a­vans with bells clang­ing as the ani­mals lum­ber up steep trail — teach­ing about Bud­dhist phi­los­o­phy and the mean­ings of paint­ings on monastery walls — stars crisp in the thin air and moun­tains float­ing in moon­light — avalanch­es that crack and rum­ble down in the night as we sleep in tents on a glacier.

But…sometimes guid­ing a trip to Ever­est Base Camp is like this:

A knock on my door at 1:30 am by some­one who is throw­ing up, scared, and sick — watch­ing care­ful­ly who eats their din­ner (loss of appetite being a com­mon alti­tude prob­lem) — test rid­ing hors­es to deter­mine if they’re too unruly uphill/​downhill for evac­u­at­ing weak clients — find­ing the only unin­ter­rupt­ed 30 min­utes of per­son­al time in my day is from 5:30 to 6:00 am — being respon­si­ble for the health of 20 – 40 Nepali staff in addi­tion to clients — no show­er for over a week…and then always being the last in the group to show­er — some­one break­ing into tears because they are sick and tired and just want to give up (and help­ing them find the strength to con­tin­ue) — frozen tooth­paste, again.


The thing is, guid­ing in Nepal is nev­er one or the oth­er. It’s all wrapped up togeth­er, and even the hard parts are reward­ing – for me and for my clients. See­ing peo­ple over­come their phys­i­cal and men­tal chal­lenges, see­ing their joy and awe in the moun­tains, see­ing their pride and sat­is­fac­tion at accom­plish­ing more than they ever bar­gained for when they first sent in a trip appli­ca­tion, see­ing them joke with and tease our Nepali staff with easy famil­iar­i­ty – it’s all part of why I keep com­ing back to do it again and again.

Some adven­tur­ers get addict­ed to dan­ger and thrill. I think I’m addict­ed to the inten­si­ty of per­son­al trans­for­ma­tion that occurs in peo­ple on these trips. I love sup­port­ing it, wit­ness­ing it, being part of it…but it’s a good thing I’m going on vaca­tion next week. I’m tired!

Retrac­ing Our Steps — the trek back to Lukla

Down to Debuche and its qui­et nunnery.

Down to Nam­che and the feel­ing of towns and people

Return­ing to Nam­che Bazaar, biggest town in the area

Down to Luk­la in a long day of hik­ing where we cel­e­brate the end of our trek.

Low­land pas­toral on the way to Lukla


On the final night in the moun­tains we have a big Nepali din­ner all togeth­er: rice, lentils, veg­eta­bles, chick­en cur­ry. Our Nepali staff sing tra­di­tion­al songs, feed us local moon­shine, and then send us out on an ear­ly morn­ing flight to Kath­man­du. Both Nepalis and clients are moved as we part. Say­ing good­bye makes every­one real­ize just how much we’ve been through togeth­er and how much we’ve grown to know one another.

Video: The Porters Sing To Us

Pre­vi­ous EBC Blog