Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nepal 2012 Exhausted

Yesterday we climbed Island Peak, descended exhaused, stumbled into basecamp, and slept. 

But the 'exhausted' experience was not yet over.

We had a long and grueling trekk ahead of us - 15 hours to Namche, then 9 hours to Lukla.  We had just 2 days to rejoin our trekking team and catch our flight back to Kathmandu.  

Base camp to Namche was a nasty marathon of 15 hours, and 4 of those hours were in the dark. We hiked 18miles (28kms), climbing 5,096ft and descending 10,075ft (1553m and 3071m) in that single day. 
Roughly, that means we climbed a vertical mile, and dropped 2 vertical miles that day!  

This was the one and only day that our porters could not keep up with us. They were embarrassed. Without our porter-bags we slept in our clothes with no sleeping bags... exhausted for the second night.

It started to snow as we walked in the dark. 

Even Hogus is dragging in this picture!  

My pants show the signs of 4 weeks of rough wear without a wash.

The old men (Roy, Lennie & I) were exhausted. It shows on our faces. Sanjay admitted he was 'just a little tired' but looked like he could travel hours more. Sanjay is Nepalese, and conditioned for this exertion, and he is half our age, but he is a very powerful man.

Next day was shorter (9 hours) but still a hard day. We hiked 10miles (16kms), climbing 3937ft and descending 6368ft (1200m and 1941m) that day. 

Our porters, embarrassed by being left behind by aging guests, redeemed themselves quickly. They awoke at 4am, passed us while we were still asleep, and proudly arrived in Lukla well before us. We heaped praise on these porters who outpaced us, while carrying 6 times the weight that we did. I have seen these porters work many times, but I am continually amazed by their quiet resolve and power.

There are few pictures of these 3 days of exhaustion. Creative pictures happen when feeling relaxed or powerful. Documentary pictures happen when feeling weakened or strained. When exhausted, and near the end of my strength, all energy is focused on the immediate physical challenge, and it's just too much effort to get the camera out. Unfortunate, because 
 ... many of the most memorable experiences are those that inflict 
the most demanding challenges to adapt and overcome.

In the past 3 days we trekked and climbed for 40 hours. 

We climbing 12,723ft and descending 20,133ft (3878m and 6137m). 
In these 3 days, we climbed 2 vertical miles, and dropped 4 vertical miles! 
(4 vertical kms up and 6 vertical kms down). 
With slopes up to 74%! 

We had climbed Island Peak and returned safely to Lukla.

Completing a major bucket-list adventure should warrant celebration, jubilation, and relief. 
None of this happened during these 3 days... we just forced our bodies to keep moving, focusing one step at a time, thinking of nothing, and ignoring the discomforts. 

On the 3rd day after sumitting Island Peak, Lennie, Roy, and I were sitting quietly, when Lennie broke into his huge grin and said "You know what we just did? We 3 old guys actually climbed Island Peak!". 

It took 3 days before our minds and bodies were ready to realize we had met the challenge of Island Peak. Lennie and Roy may have had a beer or two. As an ostomate I avoided the carbonation :) 

<Previous                   Next>

No comments:

Post a Comment