This year has been a busy one, jam packed with many weekends on the hills, camping here there and everywhere, evening walks and night navigations and many an adventure. There’s been lots to write about and I have a virtual pile of blog posts sitting on my laptop half written, left like those chocolates in the tin that no one wants to eat. Sadly, I’ve just not got around to finishing them and making them live!
To be fair, there has also been another major focus this year that has led to the influx in training in the outdoors but has also taken me away from my normal dedication to blog writing. That major focus is that tomorrow I leave for Nepal where I am going to be part of an expedition team that is attempting to climb a previously unclimbed peak.
Not a bad excuse to take me away from blogging right?
Though it is not a Himalayan giant (it’s just under 6000m) it’s ticking two things of my dream ‘things to do in life’ going to the Himalayas and standing on top of a mountain where no one has stood before.
For many, the ultimate Himalayan achievement is to top out Everest or other peaks such as K2, the Annapurnas or other well-known peaks and new routes. Now I fully respect those who try these ventures and can totally understand the attraction. Let’s be honest if someone offered a free trip to Everest I wouldn’t turn it down but personally I like the idea of going where not many have before, breaking trail and exploring uncharted ground.
I think this is what attracted me to the unclimbed peak expedition. My love of mountains has taken me far away as well as close to home, summiting hills and peaks ranging from small hills to the heights of Kilimanjaro. One thing that is a constant on every peak, regardless of its location and size, is the absolute wonderment that surrounds me as I stand on the mountains thinking of the stories they could tell.
Since signing up for the Unclimbed Peak Expedition in January I have spent a lot of time on the hills of Snowdonia, in Lake District or the more local lower ranges. One of the highlights was wild camping on Rhinog Fawr for the Summer Solstice where I had the most incredible weather, sunset, shooting stars and cloud inversions. There’s been climbing, running, gym work and even a spot of ice climbing on an indoor wall at King Kong Climbing Centre in Kewsick (though no ice climbing is planned for Nepal!).This has been great for fitness but has also given me time out of work and daily life to fully contemplate this upcoming adventure and think about all the aspects it involves including excitement and concern. I've even been very fortunate to meet Sir Ranulph Fiennes and mentioned my upcoming adventure to him!
Our Expedition Team members are well experienced in trekking at altitude and expedition life so I have no doubt that every step will be taken with safety in mind. Unless we all completely lose our marbles due to the altitude I am confident that there will be no hash decisions or negative actions brought on by summit fever!
Another issue is whether we will get a blessing by the village Lama in Nar, the last village we pass through and one of the most isolated Tibetan villages in the region. Without this blessing and Puja (blessing ceremony) it is not likely that the Sherpas will support us on the summit attempt. Without the Sherpas there is no way we would be able to continue the expedition. Nor would we want to disrespect the local culture and beliefs so this could stop us in our tracks and the summit bid would be over.
There’s also the other factors that could stop the expedition in its tracks or stop individuals from summiting. Injuries sustained from trekking in, altitude sickness and stomach bugs can be so debilitating that setting off for the summit would be dangerous and irresponsible, for the individual and the team. Summit day is a long, long day and one that is going to really push us to our limits, that’s for sure.
It sounds like I am just focusing on the negatives doesn’t it, but that’s not the case. It’s just that there’s a lot of things to think about and to be prepared for whilst doing such an expedition. It would be quite naïve to just think everything will go perfectly to plan. Being prepared for every eventuality, both mentally and physically, means that if we are faced with such issues it won’t come as a total shock where we are left blindsided by a kick in the nuts by epic Himalayan proportions.
I’m also really looking forward to the people we meet along the way and experiencing the culture and traditions of the Nepalese and Tibetans (Nar village is a Tibetan village even though it is in Nepal). I think it is always a privilege to see their way of life and hear their stories.
Then there are the views! On the trek in we will be served views of the magnificent surrounding peaks and as we ascend up the valley to Kang La Pass we will have the full view of the Annapurnas which in itself will be magical.
Another thing I am looking forward to is the night sky. To be in a location that has no light pollution means (given clear nights) the stars should be spectacular!
So now, as I sit here writing this I am all packed and ready to go. Tomorrow begins the epic travel to Nepal and the start of one epic adventure.
Though am I ready for the mammoth task that lies ahead? I think I am but only time will tell how this adventure pans out. Whether I am able to summit Nar Phu or not, I know that this is going to be an experience of a lifetime so look forward to returning safely and sharing many stories and photos.