nepal

NEPAL

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ARRIVing IN KATHMANDU and flying to the himalayas

11th February 2018 – Day 2

Ok, this is happening.

I spent the first day catching up with some sleep until 4 pm when I met with the rest of the group and the organiser of the trip, who introduced to us the guide and explained a few things about what we were about to face, which was, the journey of a lifetime.

I soon discovered that the other 7 persons in the group weren’t going with me. They booked only for a two weeks trip. I was the only one insane enough to spend more than three weeks in the Himalayas during the winter season.

13th February 2018 – Day 4

Crap, I am exhausted, but I absolutely have to write down my journal. I cannot delay. After the meeting with ACE staff (the tour company), I went out for dinner in a lovely little Nepalese restaurant in the heart of Thamel, the commercial neighbourhood of the capital Kathmandu.

After a spicy dal bath, a traditional Nepalese dish, I walked around smelling perfumes while zigzagging along the bumpy main road. You must have surviving skills to wander around because you can be run over any second by the thousands of bikes and motorcycles that drive randomly on the road.

It seems that anything goes. It feels like Bangkok.

I went back to my room around 9 pm and passed out. There’s a 5 hours difference between Kathmandu and Sydney. I had to quickly get used to it to have as much sleep as possible, which is a crucial requirement up in the mountains.

On day 2, I visited the three most popular attractions in Kathmandu: Bhaktapur, Pashupati and the Great Buddha Stupa.

The city of Bhaktapur is known as the cultural capital of Nepal, just 15 km east of Kathmandu.

People say that the city is a living museum that hosts countless temples and other cultural and historical places, like Durbar square, the Dattaraya temple and Pottery square, to name a few.

Its history goes back to the 8th century, and a few decades ago it was listed within the World Heritage Sites.

Unfortunately, the beauty of this city was destroyed by the 2015 earthquake that crippled a big part of Nepal and caused 17 deaths on Everest.

As a souvenir, I decided to buy a sand mandala painting by a Buddhist monk, that now hangs in my living room. This particular design has been created by the Dalai Lama, and it represents life cycles. Traditionally, mandalas are created and then destroyed, to denote that everything is temporary, like life. I choose this beautiful drawing to remind myself not to take anything too seriously, and I picked the blue background because it is the colour of inner peace. Which is precisely what I need.

After Bhaktapur, we drove to the other side of the city to visit Pashupati, the temple of Lord Shiva, the God of Gods. The temple is revered both by Hindus and Buddhist, making it an example of religious unity. Foreigners may not enter the temple as the entrance is reserved for worshippers only.

The surrounding area is free to be explored, and it is here that I saw my first Hindu funeral.

The temple is built on the banks of the holy Bagmati river, where Hindus cremate their loved ones.

The dead lies on a concrete bed, covered by wood and a bale of straw, and the head must face North. The chief mourner, who is usually the first son, lights the fire. In the end, once there is nothing left, the ashes are washed out into the river.

It’s been sad and fascinating at the same time.

In the early afternoon, I went to see the Great Buddha Stupa, one of the most prominent Buddhist temples in the world. From an aerial point of view, stupas share many similarities with sand mandala drawings.

Every part of the building has a powerful meaning. From the bottom you find: the mandala (the square base) is the mansion of Buddha; the dome represents the universe; the two eyes are wisdom; the nose like symbol represents nirvana; the thirteen steps are the states to complete the enlightenment; the lotus is a symbol of compassion; the umbrella is for protection; the pinnacle is the symbol of Mt. Sumeru, the sacred five-peaked mountain believed to be the centre of the universe.

At the end of the sightseeing, I realised I got sunburnt. It’s still winter here, and I am 1400m above sea level, but today there were around 22 degrees, and I sweat all the time. I wasn’t expecting that!

Before going to bed, I enjoyed a hot shower, conscious of the fact that it would have been the last one for the rest of the trip.

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Yesterday, on day 3, I woke up around 4 am, finished to pack my bags and had a couple of boiled eggs for breakfast, while sitting outside the hotel waiting for my guide, Pemba.

Once he arrived, we drove to the airport to catch the 6 am flight to Lukla, famous for having one of the most dangerous airports in the world. What a good start.

The 30 minutes flight was quite pleasant I must say. But I understand the fear and panic of the tourists who take this flight for the first time. We were so close to the mountains I thought I could touch them. The weather today was ok, but if there were a bit of wind, I would have been scared to death.

Mild turbulences started toward the end, once we reach an open valley. It lasted only a minute, and we safely landed in the small town of Lukla, at 2800m, in the highest airport in the world.

This flight is very technical, and the weather here is so unpredictable. Pilots are well trained and cannot take any risk and trips are often delayed, so once you board the flight, you are pretty sure you’re gonna make it. You might shit your pants, but you’ll make it.

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Once there I met my porter, Michel, and we all had a cup of tea to warm up a bit. I felt so bad at the idea of that young 19 yo boy carrying my 10kg backpack, but people here make a living out of it.

We started the trek descending towards Dudh Cosi River and reached the small village of Phakding in little less than 4 hours. This first day was quite comfortable; a light start is okay to let your legs get used to the trek. I’m quite fit, but hike at high altitude can bring many nasty surprises. During the walk, I crossed hanging bridges and stepped on animal droppings countless time.

Now I’m freezing. Didn’t feel it while walking obviously, but now I do. Oh jeez, I do.

I’m such a frozen person, always cold even during summer, a light breeze is enough to make me shiver at the beach. It is only day 3, and I am just at 2600m.

Tomorrow I’ll have to face the first big hike, up to Namche Bazar, located at 3500m.

The village is considered the gateway to Mount Everest.

I knew I was going to suffer for the cold weather. All this is extremely hard for me, and I am still not sure if I can make it till the end.

14th February 2018 – Day 5

Rest day, kinda.

But let me tell you first about yesterday.

I left the small village of Phakding early in the morning, while a light rain joined Pimba and me for a couple of hours, during the walk. We crossed few times the river Dudh Kosi on dodgy suspension bridges, and after a lavish lunch, we entered Sagarmatha National Park.

From here, a very steep ascent took my breath away, together with the amazing view. This was my first high altitude trek. After 4 hours we arrived at Namche Bazar, at 3500 metres above sea level, the village is considered the gateway to Mount Everest. Here I rested and caught up with the guys I met at the Ace’s office. I had a wet wipes shower followed by a nice dinner and after that, exhausted, I went to bed and slept like a baby until 6 a.m.

And here we are on day 5, which is supposed to be acclimatisation day. It wasn’t a rest day given that Pimba took me out for a 4 hours hike up Namche’s hills, to visit a museum about Himalaya that mostly celebrates Sherpa people. No wonder why outside the museum there is an imponent statue of Tenzig, the Sherpa who accompanied Sir Edward Hillary on the first successful expedition to Summit Mount Everest in 1953.

So far I have reached 3800 metres without any problem, therefore I am pretty positive I will make it to the Everest base camp. Island Peak… that’s another story. Let’s not think about it now. One thing at a time.


15th February 2018 – Day 6

It was hot. It was bloody hot. That’s the last thing you would expect to hear from someone in the Himalayas, I know.

Hot and very steep. After a couple of hours of a relatively flat track, I found myself gasping to reach 4000 metres. After a massive lunch we descended to what I cannot even describe as a town, it was just a single guest house in the middle of nowhere. I am going to spend the night here and I better rest because tomorrow I have a huge day, with two very steep ascendings that will take me up to 4600 m.

I’m tired; I’m exhausted, I have a rash on my nose from blowing it so much, so I have to stick toilet paper up to my nostrils because my nose is very runny.

All I want is to sleep.

16thFebruary 2018 – Day 7

I am exhausted. And I ate way too much for lunch, which turned the following 3 hours walk in a nightmare. The weather was fantastic, warm enough to wear only my base layer for a couple of hours, but once we reached 4000 metres I had to wear my fleece jacket. We walked along the ridge and followed the river till we reached a small town. And when I say small, I mean it.

Nobody was there, so we worked another hour until we reached the next village. We are now at 4600 metres; it’s insanely cold up here.

During the walk, I had the chance to cross a beautiful frozen waterfall, and we crossed paths with some yaks that were bringing goods to the villages downhill. I also saw some wild yaks wandering around a frozen creek, and musk deer as well. Yaks are animals found only in the Himalaya region, Mongolia and Russia, at altitudes above 4000m. The strong domesticated animals are vital for the remote communities who live up in the mountains, to have food and goods delivered at high altitude.

I needed to rest now, a 6 hours walk awaits me tomorrow.

hiking to Gokyo Ri

17thFebruary 2018 – Day 8

Today was a fairly short walk, not in term of distance, but time. It took us only four hours to get to Gokyo, the village at the foothill of Mount Gokyo, or Gokyo Ri. The trail was almost flat and the view was great. We walked along Dudh Koshi River, that starts to freeze. It is very impressive and it gives an idea on how cold it is, and unfortunately how cold it will get the further we go. We past by three of the four lakes in the Gokyo area: Lang Pomba, the smallest one, Taujan Pokhari, the second and Dudh Pokhari, the third.

During high season, when it’s warmer, the panorama is exquisite. Here are some pictures of the lakes during spring that o found on-line.

And these are mine. To give an idea of the freezing temperature I have to deal with.

And the noise!! It was magical. It started as a subtle booming sound while walking past the second lake. The closer we got the clearer and louder it was. The ice shifting causes the noise, and it is incredibly fascinating, a bit creepy at the same time.

I could not record the noise with my camera nor my phone because the wind covered every other sound. Such a shame. I wish I could explain myself better because the music of a frozen lake is enchanting, seems like something coming out of a sci-fi movie.

Once at the lodge I had a massive lunch made by chapati and potato curry. Something slightly different finally. I started then my cleaning routine with wet wipes, working my way up from my feet to finish with a good spray of dry shampoo. It is so cold it is impossible even thinking about water touching your body. After that, laundry time. I rubbed my clothes with a soapy slightly wet towel and hung them outside to refresh a bit.

And now I am sitting next to the stove, writing my journal, wearing three pairs of socks.

18thFeabruary 2018 – Day 9

Maybe the hardest day so far, physically speaking. After a sleepless night, I had a couple of scrambled egg for breakfast that I thought I would throw up straight away. I am often nauseous lately, this cold is not helping my weak stomach.

At 6.30 in the morning, at -15℃, the last thing you want is having soup and egg and go out for a walk uphill. At this stage, I suck it and carry on. I filled my hot water bag and tried to warm up my tummy for ten minutes until I was sure my breakfast would have gone down and not up.

At 7.30 we went out and headed to Gokyo Ri, the mountain which gives the name to this piece of land. I could see the trail from the Lodge, a very long and steep. Today was the very day when something changed. For the first time, I felt something very unusual and sad inside me, something I am not used to: boredom.

I love my company, I really enjoy to spend time alone. My best friends are me, myself and I. Now, for the first time in my life, I can barely stand myself. I walked, for hours, and I was looking around and it seemed I didn’t t even move. I kept walking and walking, looking up to the summit that seemed far away. Rock, dust, ice. Everything was the same, after hours and hours I crossed path with more rock, more dust and more ice. The trail was endless, I thought it was a path to nowhere. I had to stop looking up because I felt I had tears coming out. After 5000m I fought for every step I took. Every little movement demanded a great effort. I forced myself to continue, after all I came here to experience a new adventure, not a walk in the park. The last 100m were a real nightmare. It took me one hour to cover that distance, rock after rock, one step at a time. And I made it, at 5.458m, the summit of Gokyo Ri. I couldn’t believe I was finally there. The reward was the spectacular view of four 8.000 metre peaks: Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu.

I thought we spent 10 hours walking, while in reality, it was only three and a half, plus another one to go down. Once back at the lodge I ate something and passed out on a bench.

The afternoon sun warmed up the dining room a bit. I read a book, and I thought of the day that just passed. Every day consist in waking up, having breakfast, walking for an average of 7 hours, and then rest at the lodge, where travellers spend the rest of the day in the common room, all gathered around the stove where dried yak droppings are burnet to keep the place a few degrees above zero. Wood is hard to find at this altitude, especially at this time of the year when everything is frozen. Drying and burning animal dropping is the best solution locals could find, as it is entirely free.

I am going to spend the next couple of hours in the company of my brain, and I am so exhausted that hopefully, I will sleep better tonight.

19th February – Day 10

I woke up at dawn, and after a copious breakfast wich gave me, as usual, a bit of sickness, we headed east and in three hours we reached the small village of Thagnak. We crossed Ngozumpa Glacier, which is the longest glacier in the Himalayas, with its 36 km length. This large natural feature is, unfortunately, shrinking due to climate change, and the melted water is creating a lake on the surface, called Spillway.

The trial today was very slippery and in some parts in had to put one foot in front of the other because there was no room enough for the booth of my feet next to each other.

I didn’t sleep last night, again, and I am sick of this because the lack of sleep is messing up my body, other than my brain.

After lunch, I dedicated a fair amount of time to my cleaning ritual. Not that I was putting much effort into being clean, I was just snail-paced because of the cold. The skin on my nose is still cracked, and I bleed every time I rub it.

A wild yak was wandering around the lodge when the weather quickly changed and wind and fog took over the blue sky.

I am now killing time in the lodge, waiting for someone to light the wood stove. I am exhausted but cannot take a nap; it’s just too bloody cold.

Crossing cho la pass

20th February 2018 – Day 11

I finally had a decent sleep last night. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have made it today. It was a strenuous walk.

Summiting Gokyo Ri was like a walk in the park compared to what I have done today.

At 6.30 we were ready and left the small village of Thagnak heading to Dzongla, another town just a few kilometres far. Seems easy, if it wasn’t for the insane and beautiful pass you need to cross to reach Dzongla. The Cho La Pass is one of the three most popular passes in the Himalaya region, and it has the fame to be difficult and dangerous.

Last night while I was dining at the tea house, a group of people arrived, they came from the easter side of the pass. I crossed it the other way, wich is the most difficult one given that the ascent is way steeper, but if I want to reach base camp, there is no choice.

The hikers tried to scare me and to warn of the danger of crossing the pass, but this is The Himalaya, everything could be dangerous, but if you proceed with caution and organise yourself, almost anything is doable.

The trail was steep, and I had to scramble my way up through boulders and slippery rocks. At the elevation of 5.300m I started to feel sick, I didn’t drink enough water, and a terrible headache was ruining my day. I found myself at the age of a panic attack at some point; I could not breathe and keeping my legs moving was such an effort I had to stop every second step. I took a Diamox and a couple of ibuprofen to placate a headache.

Once we reached the beginning of the pass, we sat down for 10 minutes. I started to feel better, and with a smile on my face, I saw what everyone last night was warning me about. That was what I was looking for.

I took around 30 minutes to cross the pass. Best 30 minutes ever! I had so much fun! The glacier was slippery but I did not wear crampons simply because my guide was not wearing them, so I told him if he did t need them, neither did I. I wanted to feel equal, even though that man was born here and hikes in the Himalayas for a living. I don’t remember if I mention that but he Summited Mount Everest twice. Anyway, bistarai bistarai, slowly slowly, like they say here, I walked though ice and snow to reach the eastern side of Cho La Pass. I had to be extremely careful, one wrong step and I would have slipped down the glacier. I was so happy at the end that I wanted to do it again. What a blast.

After the pass we reached Dzongla in a couple of hours. Another day is gone and I will go to bed really happy tonight.

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21st February 2018 – Day 12

Last night I went to bed happy. This morning I woke up and broke down in tears. Don’t know why. Hormones, maybe. I made a relatively short walk, just 3 hours. The trail wasn’t even too steep, but most of the time I gasped for oxygen. I had tears in my eyes during the whole walk. I am now at an altitude of 5.000m. For the past week I have lived below 0℃. Every morning it is so cold that I want to throw up after breakfast and I struggle to swallow even water, that by the way is always frozen.

Tomorrow an 8 hours walk awaits me, and I want to vomit at the thought of it.

reaching Everest base camp

22nd February 2018 – Day 13

I made it. I have reached Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 5.363 metres.

This morning, like every morning since I’ve arrived, I struggled to keep the breakfast inside my stomach. Every bite was an effort.

It wasn’t an exceptional day, the sky was very dull and the landscape pretty plain. After 3 hours we reached Gorakshep which os the last settlement before the base camp.After a fairly good lunch we were back on the road and walked fo few more hours along the ridge on Khumbu Glacier. The walk wasn’t particularly demanding. Once at the Base Camp everything was frozen and the cold penetrated in my bones. A dog came all the way here from Gorakshep and rolled on itself to find some comfort next to the praying flags hung all over the celebration cairn.

Despite this is the beginning of the trail toward Everest, lots of climbers have died in the icefall that is the first and foremost obstacle to the summit. The icefall lies in the proximity of the basecamp and ends at 6.065m, where climbers rest at Camp 1. Pemba sadly told me how you can still see frozen bodies along the way. In 2014 16 sherpas died from the avalanche in the icefall.

I would love to try and adventure a bit further, but you need a permit that costs $11.000 to cross Base Camp. An expedition to the summit costs an average of $50.000. As much as I would love to do it, I am afraid I will never afford that.

There is still a wedding dress on a rock. A crazy couple said yes here at base camp a few years ago, and the woman left her dress to give something to take pictures of.

Thousands of people reach this destination every year, so in the end I feel I haven’t done anything special, but I am happy to be here.

The walk back to Gorakshep seemed even longer, and it was freezing cold. This cold scares me and I am thinking of what I will do once I will have to summit Island Peak.

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hiking to kala-patthar

23rd February – Day 14

I cannot possibly describe how cold it is. It’s like hell, but frozen.

I must have slept 45 minutes, more or less, I would have loved to get a hot water bag and go back to sleep, but my schedule is so tight that I cannot afford to lose any minute.

At 6.30 am I had veggie noodle soup. Not exactly what you would eat for breakfast, but it’s the only thing that warms up my stomach a bit. I have tried toast and eggs before, but it’s so cold that everything become unedible within minutes.

At 7 am I was already on the trail to reach Kala Patthar, a popular viewpoint from where you have a fantastic view of Mount Everest and Khumbu Glacier. We walked along the eastern side, and even though the sun was coming up, we were still on the shade of Mount Everest until 9.30 am, when the sun was up high enough to poke through the high mountains on the East. It was of no comfort anyway. I couldn’t feel nighter my toes, nor my fingers and a cold breeze started to blow.

The walk itself was not too hard, but the lack of sleep started to be a real issue. I remember walking for hours and having the feeling I didn’t even move. Everything was the same; I felt I was coming across the same rock over and over again, and I was so tired I had tears in my eyes because I couldn’t take it anymore.

Somehow I made it, and once at the cairn, Pemba showed me the altitude on his watch. We were at 5.565m. I broke down in tears. I didn’t care, I couldn’t give a shit, I just wanted a cup of camomile tea and a hot shower, and some sleep. In the end all I wanted was some sleep.

After few minutes I calmed down and started to appreciate the view. I could see Mount Everest and the Glacier. The panorama was truly beautiful. After the ritual pictures at the celebration cairn we headed back and after lunch we went back to Lobuche. Tomorrow I have to cross a pass at 5.600m. I need to sleep.

Khumbu Glacier, Mount Everest, Himalaya, Nepal

crossing kong-ma la pass

24th February – Day 15

Thank God the day is over.

From the tea house, Pemba pointed at a mountain saying we were about to cross that pass. He was looking at something that resembled Mordor. I though “well yeah, it’s full of mountains around here, maybe he was pointing at the next one, and I misunderstood”. I wasn’t.

The first 4 hours went by peacefully, the trail was very steep, but the sun was up, and there was no wind. I was actually in a good mood.

Right before the walk I looked up and I could see a very steep hill, what I had called Mordor, the one I had just reached. I thought it was almost over, but as I kept walking, I started to realise how steep and dry was path before me. A cold breeze began to blow, and in minutes the blue sky was covered. This really is Mordor, I thought. At some point the trail disappeared and I had to climb on slippery rocks to make my way to the top. Somehow I managed to cross the pass. Little I know I had to walk another 4 hours to reach the closest tea house.

It started to snow, and the descend was incredibly steep. My knees were trembling and I wasn’t very stable. My legs were very weak and my balance was messed up. A thick fog surrounded me and at times I couldn’t see where I was going. I run out of water so on top of being exhausted I was also dehydrated. Once we arrived I asked for some boiling water and here I am, fighting the tiredness to write down my journal.

on the way to summit island peak

25th February – Day 16

Rest day. Yay!!!! The very first rest day since when I started. I stayed in bed until 12, when I forced myself to get up. The wet wipes are frozen so I have to clean myself up with a cold wet towel. I changed my clothes and hung outside the stuff I have been wearing the past days. My legs are so dry that when I took off and shooke my leggings, skin flakes started to fell like snow. I was shedding skin like a snake.

Last night I devoured a couple of boiled potatoes and passed out without even brushing my teeth.

Today I also tried the gear for the ice climb of Island Peak. Mountaineer boots, steel crampons, harness, etc… I am worried about the cold. That’s my biggest fear.

Tomorrow we will go to Island Peak base camp, were we will stay in a tent. I need to rest as much as possible.I really hope the weather will be by my side.

26thFebruary – Day 17

Training day. In the morning we went on a nearby hill and try all the gear. I went up and down a couple of times to make sure everything work properly. After that we packed everything and headed to the base camp, a three hours walk, where we set up the tent. The big day is getting closer. This is what I came here for. Everest base camp was only a side trip. I wanted to do something memorable, that’ s why I choose to do this climb.

I’m here in the tent now. Boodu cold. The base camp is located at the foothill of the permanent layer of ice and snow, at least is what Pemba said yesterday. I think he said that to keep me calm. I don’t see any ice and from here I don’t even see the top of the mountain.

27th February – Day 18

I didn’t make it. I didn’t even go. I did not sleep a single second throughout the night. At 1 am Pemba woke up and prepared breakfast. In no time I run out of the tent and vomited everything. There is something really wrong, I can feel it. He said it might have been altitude sickness. It’ s not. I can feel is something different, I don’t know how to explain it. I just prepared my hot water bag and went back to the tent trying to get some sleep. My feet are so cold I don’t feel anything anymore. I cannot find relief. Tonight we will try again to summit.

28th February – Day 19

I didn’t make it. I hate everything about this place with every single fibre of my body. I just want to get the fuck out of this Goddam hell.

going back to Kathmandu

1st March – Day 20

Here is what happened.

The other night I managed to get some sleep and woke up at midnight to have something to eat. I wanted to vomit but forced myself to keep the food inside. I needed the energy to fuel my body for the climb. The memories of noodles make me wanna throw up. I felt pretty good, I was in a good mood, and at 1 am we set off for the climb.

When Pemba said the base camp was close to the permanent layer of ice… was lying, big time. Might have been a language mistake, because in this case, the word “close” meant a strenuous 7 hours hike up to 5.800m, scrambling in the dark on a dry and slippery steep path. Well, there was no path.

After a couple of hours, around 3am, we reached 5400m, and it started to be windy. I was in total shock and I could not think nor walk straight. So many times I fell because unstable rocks, sliding down few metres. Took ages to take back those metres I lost. At one point I felt so overwhelmed that I felt and started to walk on my knees, grabbing rocks to pull myself up. My guide was a good 20m ahead of me, I did not have any direction, I had to guess and walk in the dark hoping not to step on a slippery rock. Many times I hurt myself. My feet were two blocks of ice, every step was like a knife stabbing me from the bottom. Seven hours of hell to reach 5.800. That was the actually beginning of the ice climb. I could not breath because of the wind and the cold. I couldn’t move. I had so many layers of clothes that I couldn’t even turn my head to look around. I had four pairs of socks, three bottom thermal layer, three long sleeve thermal, to fleece jackets, two down jackets and a windproof one.

I hated every single thing, and every single second I spend on that mountain. I dispised every single rock with all my might, and now, with the sun up, I could see the desolation and sadness that surrounded me. Rocks, dust, ice. That’s it.

I came all the way from Australia to establish a contact with nature, I needed to spend time with myself, I need to find myself. Here there is everything but nature. There is no signs of life. I have no memory of seeing a tree for the past 10 days. I had to cope with this dreadful desolation. The weather was impossible. Sadly, I turned and started to walk back.

The descent was steep, and it took me 4 hours to get back to base camp, plus other 3 hours to go back to Chunkung, the settlement where I stayed before coming to Island Peak.

I didn’t eat anything the whole day; I was so full of disappointment that I had no room for food. I had a cup of hot chocolate and went to bed.

Today I refused to walk. I want to vomit. There is no signal, the satellite phone does not work. I sent someone to the nearest village to get me a horse. I cannot possibly walk a single step. There is something wrong with me, and I don’t know what it is. I need to get out of this place. I need to clean myself. Everything is frozen, I cannot even brush my teeth. I cannot even change my clothes. I tried to put on a shirt that last week I wiped with a soapy towel. It was frozen and could not unfold it. I don’t want to see another mountain ever again in my life. I need to get the hell out of this nightmare.

Update.

I arrived safely to Namche Bazaar, all in one piece. But I am not sure it is a day I want to remember.

The horse arrived and for 9 hours I sat on it, during a very bumpy and uncomfortable ride. It was freezing all the time. The cold pierced my clothes to penetrate inside my bones, to stay there the whole day. The horsekeeper thought to made an impression continually clearing his throat grossly and spitting catarrhal every third minute. I counted the time, it was really every 3 minutes. Like my nausea wasn’t enough…

The ride itself was… well, I don’t know hoe to describe it. I spent most of the time wishing not to fall down the slope. The horses used in the mountains are strong and have sturdy legs. I felt safe, but I have to admit that sometimes I caught myself holding my breath. The rocky and steep way down was not an easy task.

I might complain, but I realise that I could not have possibly walked. I hadn’t had food for two days, the nausea was so bad. I am craving a salad in a way you cannot imagine it. I would love for a bowl of fresh and crunchy iceberg lettuce, with juicy tomatoes, cucumber, carrots and corn, and maybe also kalamata olives and diced aged gouda.

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2nd March – Day 21

I had an apple. A real apple. A fruit never tasted so good to me. I was so happy, it was like the first time I had a mango for the first time in Jamaica years ago. The craving of fresh food was really strong.

I ate that beautiful giant apple while walking around the street of Namche. The morning was chilled but nice, and I was happy because I had an apple. I slept the rest of the day.

3rd March – Day 22

Last day. Last walk. 10 hours. It seemed endless.

I walked around 20 km from Namche Bazaar to Lukla, up and down the mountains. I am now surrounded by the forest, I left the desolated lunar landscape behind. I feel like I returned to this world from another planet. Life forms started to appear before me; chickens, mules, bugs. I finally saw pine trees, and the Dudh Kosi river wasn’t anymore a frozen strip of ice, water was running on it. The further I walked, dry and steep slopes left their place to musk and wet leaves, and I could finally smell the scent of the mountains.

After 10 long hours I went back where it started. We arrived at the lodge in Lukla at 6.30pm. I had a massive portion of stir-fried noodles and I know I will have nightmares because of that.

4th March – Day 23

I did. I dreamt of zombies. All night long I run away from creature who wanted to gauge my eyes and eat my brain. I woke up tired and like if that wasn’t enough I have to eat quickly a couple of slices of bread because my guide was late and we had to run to the airport to catch the first flight to Kathmandu.

The 35 minutes flight tuned into an hour of roaming the sky because of bad weather, and the small toy plane could not fly straight to the Nepalese capital. We had to turn around, and I could sense the stress of the only flight attendant when people asked her why we hadn’t landed already. The plane was continually shaking like a feather. At some point toward the end, it started to shift horizontally. It was like a giant cat was playing with the plane poking its tail.

We made it, somehow, and now I am having a piece of chocolate cake in a small cosy cafe in Thamel, to escape from the traffic of this popular suburb.

I still have no news about my visa. I reconnected with the outer world after three weeks. I realise now I did not miss it at all.

I left Australia not knowing what would happened. At this stage I can go back to the Country, but there is a chance I will have to leave as soon as I step in. Nobody knows. Anything can happen. I spent a good part of my saving in bullshit paperwork like appeals, new visa, a diploma and skills recognition. It’s a long story.

I think I have to let a bit of time pass to truly understand what I have just done. This trip was weird. I feel weird. All the complaints make no sense now. There is something in me I cannot explain.

Tomorrow I will take a day to wander through Kathmandu by myself. A little treat before going back to reality.

epilogue

A few months have passed. I thought a lot about this trip and about what I have learnt.

What I have learnt is that I am always right. Sounds arrogant, but Jeez I am right.

I have always said I want to stay by myself and I do not want to share anything with anyone. Months after this trip I can tell, yes, I stick with my statement. I love to stay by myself.

I had the feeling something was going on; something was cooking. It was. I spent the following months in a state of denial and disillusion. I did not want to see what I had in front of my eyes. I thought that trip left me nothing but memories of the freezing cold and the despair of being alone with myself. I went in and out of clinics and spent part of my saving for doctors and therapies. I do not want to go into details; it’s not the case.

I had to suffer tremendously because of other people, and now, with a clear mind, I can say that I am so fucking sick of people. I am sick of wasting time, money and health, on persons who will let you down, one way or another. From now on, it’s all about me. In the end, I am the only one I can count on, even if sometimes I can barely stand myself.

Even though the failure of not being able to summit Island Peak made me feel weak and vulnerable, and I have never felt so disappointed of myself in my life, I am still proud of myself.

After the trip I had to face the hardest time of my life, and I unfortunately had to let go of what was dragging me down. I had to close relationships with family and with other people I did not have any use for. But I also had to let go of special things because of other people meddling in my businesses. I was filled with hatred and regret, with a firing rage, and despised every single person who would cross my path.

The choices I made in this past few months will dictate my future. I decided to dedicate every single moment to myself because I spent too much time trying to fit in a society I do not like. I cannot escape, as much as I would like to live like a hermit in the mountains, far away from every human being, I decided to cope with a regular life. My goal is to carry on to earn money and travel as much as I can to discover this beautiful planet.

Even though I am nor a spiritual person, I genuinely believe that this great planet has a soul and I worship Mother Nature.

A need for freedom has been with me since I can remember, and I had to go through hell to finally be able to see with my own eyes, but it is better late than never. I am on the right path to find myself, and I am conscious I probably never will because life is a journey, but I will try my best to enjoy the ride.

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