To take a break in October has been the standard for the last years. This year Kilian and I discussed about Yoga in India or mountains in Nepal.
When 2 mountain lovers discuss a vacation it´s unbelievable that it would be on a beach. We tried last year, because we where on La reunion (after diagonale des foes)but after some days I gently asked Kilian if maybe we should consider changing the tickets home, and it looks like the snow has arrived in Tignes.
We choose Nepal. We discussed and plan the equipment we would bring. Light of course! We ended up with 10-13 kg each.
1 down jacket
1 wind pant
1 rain jacket
1 pair of sandals
1 pair of mountaineering boots (salomon X-alps)
1 boot cover
Together we brought:
1 jet boil
1 sleeping bag ( summer version)
Dry food for 6 days
1 rope some ice screws, crampons, carabineer 1 ice axe and slings
Our plan was to start from Lukla and go as far as we could in the Khumbu Valley the first day. After that we would take it from there. See how we felt in the altitude, see the conditions for climbing mountains and just feel the atmosphere.
We went high the first day. We where aware that it might not be the smartest for acclimatization but both of us wanted to try. The first night we spent in Tyangboche 3700 meter. I just wanted to stay there and apply for job at the bakery.
After some days of doing easy days, hiking with our big backpacks or leaving them to go lighter to small mountains for acclimatization we decided we wanted to climb higher!
What a day! It was warm and sunny and I could walk in underwear until 5500 meter, then I realized I could get badly burned so I putted my pants on. That day we climbed to 6000 +. It was the highest I´ve been. I felt good, in the way I had no headache or so but I was very tired, I guess the acclimatization was not enough.
After some days, enjoying the mountains around Dingboche, sipping Masala tea and writing down dreams and projects we decided to leave our gear and go for a run! What a pleasure! Just a small backpack with a kilo or two and the legs was moving so easy! Well to be honest, not the second day for me. I bonked really hard. I was so tired! I think the days in altitude took out their right on me that day.
It was a new experience. I had no idea how I would carry myself over the pass we decided to go over. Seriously! I counted step by step and ate clif bars and snickers constantly. Somehow we reached the intended village.
I know that we had ambitious plans and I also understand that it made me really tired this day. To give some light to the subject; we did hikes almost everyday that normally people did in 3-5 days, and addition to that summits in one push. Also we didn´t have porters. (I will get back to this subject!)
Reaching the lodge and eating tons of popcorn and Dal Bhat and drinking lemon tea got my energy back and the next day we had in mind to start after lunch. So that would give me more hours to get on my feet.
After some easier days running and one rest day in Namche Bazaar, at 3400 meters, which felt like sea level (!), we headed towards the higher mountains again for the last days before the ticket home, needed to be used.
These days in the Himalayas was such a treat for my mind. Like going back to the roots, where it all started, the passion for mountains and nothing more. No social media or races. It gave me so much new energy and so many ideas!
All in all this was a magic vacation in a beautiful area of the world that created magical dreams, but also it made me a little uneasy. The sight of porters carrying the backpacks of tourists filled with computers and plenty of clothes ,and tons of tourists who didn´t knew where they where or where they where going without asking their guides. I´m not saying it´s bad to have a porter, nor a guide. It´s very convenient. Exactly like our western life style standard. We consume and we don´t think about what we consume. Isn´t it a little like this?
Hiking “light” or running heavy in our sandals made people mumble and talk, often we needed to explain that no,we don´t have porters and we only have 10 kg so we can manage it ourselves. And yes, we do hike/run in sandals, the trail is convenient and it´s warm don´t you think?
I guess the sight of someone in sandals was out of the general tourist mass mind. But that most have been good, to see another angle of how you can travel in the Himalayas!
Passing porters and guides, they often asked us about why we did not have any guide or porter, and it was almost with a angry voice. We explained again and again that we dont have much to carry, and we love exploring and we feel confident reading maps so we decided it´s not necessary.
Do you know what it costs for you to take a porter? Around 10 dollars. And good knows how much actually the porter gets from that. ?
If there is something I would love to see a change are the payments of the porters. If you would need to pay more for every kilo you give to them to carry, maybe then you start to think about what you actually need on your Himalayan hike. Doesn´t it hurt all of the Himalayan tourists to see the porters destroy their back´s day out and they in carrying your stuff? For nothing! Are we the only ones who felt like this during our trip there? I´m not trying to make people feel bad, i understand that when you book a travel with a agency or even just alone, all the time you get suggestions to have a porter.
I know that it is an important resource of income for the people in the mountains to work as a porter, so I´m not saying that I want it to end immediately. I just hope for a change. And it needs to start somewhere, right?