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In the next couple of weeks, the Everest climbing season will culminate in mass summit bids to the top. Climbers and trekkers from around the world have headed to Nepal to make their pipe dreams a reality. Maybe now is the time to start spilling my guts about my own experience to Everest Base Camp (EBC).

Situated alongside the Khumbu Glacier, Everest Base Camp is the staging area for all summit bids on the South side of Everest. It is by far the more popular side to climb as it’s considered easier climbing than the North and less of a hassle than the Tibetan side (at least that’s my impression). I had always wanted to see the tallest mountain on Earth and experience a tiny bit of the journey to the top of the world.

Let’s back up for a minute.

The impetus for my Everest trip came a year before I embarked on the journey. In October of 2015, a friend’s 18-year-old daughter died in a terrible accident and in the face of such a tragedy, I couldn’t help but think about what my hopes and dreams were when I was 18 years old. The first thing that came to my mind was Everest. I’d read Into Thin Air in 1997 and had been fascinated by the pull of Everest. People know they can die trying to climb this mountain, but they do it anyway.

Although the book might have been enough to make most people shake their heads and go about their business, I was enthralled by Nepal and Everest.  What was the allure of Everest? I wanted to find out. My 18-year-old self resolved to go see Everest one day. As I set in the chapel so many years later, I wondered where that “one day” had gone and I decided right there I’d make this trek happen.

In addition to this, I’d also been reading about the devastating effects of the Nepal earthquake in April 2015. Nepal depends on the tourism industry and tourists weren’t flocking to Nepal. The country was hurting. The rebuilding effort was slow or nonexistent. Months after the earthquake, some places looked as though the earthquake had just happened. It was a good time to go to Nepal.

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But, really, it’s all about me.

For all of that, there’s no denying I went to Nepal for selfish reasons. EBC for me was about setting my sights on attempting a goal that seemed unattainable in so many ways because it’s the right thing to do for my explorer spirit. I long to be challenged in ways I simply can’t be while at home in my own little world. I feel such an immense sense of freedom outdoors when I’m hiking and exploring and I wanted to take that to the nth degree…no matter the result. I was going to go as high as I could go. If that meant I didn’t make it to EBC, so be it. I was at least going to give it my all and try.

And try, I did.

[More to come, y’all.]

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Suggested readings.
• Henry David Thoreau’s essay, “Walking.” It’s basically, let’s get closer to nature. He uses humor in the most effective way. You can get it in book form, which combines Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature. Both of these can probably be found on the internet for free. Not so much in love with Emerson.
• As a follow-up to his excellent Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia , Ahmed Rashad updates the historical relevance of the first book with recent events (from 2000 on) in Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. I haven’t read the whole thing, but I very much enjoy learning more about all the factors leading to the establishment of the Taliban and its hold over Central Asian countries.
How to Shit in the Woods. It’s an environmentally sound instructional book with informative material for avoiding introducing any more pollutants into the wild than is already there.
• Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, an account of the 1996 deaths of several climbers on Mt. Everest. Krakauer blends his personal narrative with explanations the Death Zone, the flippant commercialism of climbing the highest peaks in the world, and how a series of small mistakes can lead to catastrophic ends. I am still haunted by this book, years after I read it. Gripping.
Haunted by Chuck Palahnuik. The drama of writers and reality shows. It’s hysterical. A wicked satire that writers are sure to enjoy.

SOB with me

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