on being 24 - Everest

I had my 24th birthday on Everest, I try to accept every invitation that gets offered my way, as this seems to be a pretty good way to ensure I’m leading a nice life. I’d done hints of long walks before but never really anything greater than 2-3 hours. So when my mum said she and her friends were training to do basecamp everest, I took up the offer to walk with her as often as I could to keep her on track. Cut forwards a few months and my mum realises that she has serious work issues around November time, which is when she’s going and will probably have to cancel. Kinda sucked, she’d put a lot of good training into that. So she asked me to go in her steed. And I said sure.

Now, as with going and living in brazil, I never quite thought this through until I was pretty much there. But my logic was that I was already pretty healthy, and I knew I could run practically forever, so walking shouldn’t be too bad. As it turned out it wasn’t.

I got out of the country and into kathmandu, Nepal, a nice city, very similar to india’s larger cities. There we could grab anything that we didn’t need, and the street markets were full of both amazing food and imitation hiking gear.

I didn’t need anymore gear, I’d taken all of my mum’s. =)

Getting up onto the mountain range itself involves flying up to what could possibly the craziest airport of all time, the Tenzing-Hillary Airport, Lukla. This airport is tiny, with a sloped runway and the weather that can easily ruin your day. Our guide said that he leaves 2-3 days buffer around flying up because it’s that unpredictable. Oh and wikipedia says that it’s the most dangerous airport in the world.

The airport takes you to this little village with it’s own faux starbucks, on the way down I grabbed a mug from this place, still use that now. Also, this is probably the cheapest place to buy a mars bar from here on in, at roughly £1.

Now, when writing about long periods of walking, there’s not really much to write about, I learnt this reading Stephen King’s The Long Walk (which is brilliant and everyone should read.) We would walk for about 8 to ten hours everyday, and at a nice leisurely pace so we could stop off and rest, I spent a lot of time just kicking back and walking on my own debating things like girls, my plans and my band. I found some important answers up there.

There were lots of interesting distractions on the route: like mapping the cost of mars bars up the mountain (prices deviated but pretty much maxed out at £5 at base camp. I figured I’d get one because there was no way I could find another way to pay so much again.) to eating yak’s cheese pizza (I spent the night throwing up)

But here’s the answer to a few niggling questions you might have.

Did I have to camp out? No, though had we gone any further than basecamp, yes. Throughout the walk we would walk through small villages that usually had a single hotel. So we could camp out there. Where did I get the Mars Bars? Lots of people would convert the front of their house (at least the ones going out onto the ‘main road’) to mini shop fronts selling some chocolate, water, occasionally fruit and toiletries. How did they get all this stuff? From the moment you get to Lukla Airport there are no cars. Everything is carried on the back’s of mainly old men and women, or Yaks. So it was common to let men with boxes meters high walk past you on these routes. Oh yeah, there’s only one road too more or less. Except when it splits, and as everyone is a bhuddist, you always have to go round everything clockwise. Interwebs? Yep, at least every 2-3 days we’d stop somewhere with an internet cafe, how else could I Facebook propose to my (ex)wife Raîssa , or just throw up some pictures onto the internets.