Sunday, March 12, 2017

MY RETURN TO NEPAL

I was devastated when I heard the news that Nepal had been hit by a 7.8 earthquake on April 25th, 2015. Our Good Karma Trek team had just returned from there the week prior! 

Our Sherpa guides and staff of Sherpa Mountain Adventures who successfully led us to Everest Base Camp were now serving as Rescue workers; bringing food, water, medical supplies and setting up temporary shelters for the victims in Katmandu and in the remote mountainous areas where no one else could get to.  Over 9,000 were killed, 22,000 injured. Nepal was hit by a second earthquake, just weeks later, total villages wiped out and thousands more left homeless.  

I was sick to my stomach with grief for a country that has become like a second home to me, where my fellow guides have become like family. 
Since that time, there has been much effort to help rebuild Nepal and bring back the much needed tourism.  Karma Sherpa,  operator of Sherpa Mountain Adventures has organized and facilitated a number of Medical Missions, Rebuilding projects and Trekking opportunities to support and assist the more remote villages and communities of Nepal.  

Returning to Nepal has been a healing experience for me.  To revisit the breathtaking mountainous places I love and see the beautiful and warm people of Nepal and to experience their unique culture has renewed my belief in humanity and their power to come together and overcome challenges. 
October of 2016 
Our Good Karma Trekking Team met up in Katmandu, and began the life-changing journey of traveling through the Himilayan mountains, lodging in tea houses, climbing peaks and reaching our ultimate destination, Everest Base Camp.

"A person does not climb a mountain without bringing some of it away with them and leaving something of themselves upon it" ~ M Conway


Durbar Square (click here for more details on Durbar Square)

One of the places first on my list to visit was Durbar Square, a world heritage site, that sits in front of the old royal palace of the former kingdom of Katmandu. It houses temples and palaces and a very interesting and historical attraction, the Kumori Chol.  This gilded cage contains the Raj Kumori, a girl chosen through an ancient and mystical process to become the human incarnation of the Hindu mother goddess Durga.  She is worshipped during religious festivals and makes public appearances at other times for a fee paid to her guards.

Although there was evidence of the earthquake; some temples gone completely with only a sign and photo of what used to be there, in general Durbar Square was intact and I was happy to revisit this amazing piece of Nepal history.

Our Team
Eric Shulz, Erika Andreson, Vikram Basappa, Katherine Kneier, Michael Olmsted, Kate Kreisher, Michel DeHaitre, Rold Hertenstein, Emily Walker, Adam Kempasky, Dennis Kneier, Lacie Gregson, Ugljesa Janjic, Beatriz Gomez and of course, the Guides and staff from Sherpa Mountain Adventures, including myself.

It all began with an amazing (and epic) flight from Katmandu to Lukla, where the trek officially starts.
Passing Mani Walls and numerous prayer flags, we crossed the Dudh Kosi River and traversed across suspension bridges, passed through small villages, stayed in tea houses and arrived in Namche on October 23rd.

Namche is located in the Khumbu area and sits at 11,286 ft.   Many Sherpa who are in the tourism business are from this area and this is the main trading center and hub for the Khumbu region.  The views, bakeries, shops and charm of this area is what make it a favorite for trekkers and visitors!

It is also where we get our first glimpse of Mt Everest!

Continuing on our trekking journey, we pass through Dhole and Machermo to get to the Gokyo Lakes area.  Each day held special moments of awe and reflection of a culture that is so rich with history and beauty.

Children in Nepal are curious and playful and love to play with, wave to and give high-fives to the trekkers who pass by their homes.

When I guided in March of 2015, Gokyo lakes were covered in snow.  This time, given the different season, we had the pleasure of seeing the amazing turquoise color of the Lakes as well as the unique rock cairns that travelers create as they pass through. The word magical comes to mind!

"The wilderness holds answers to more questions than we yet know how to ask" ~ N Newhall

We arrived in Gokyo in the early afternoon on October 27th.
Although tired from a long day of trekking, our team got a second wind after settling in at the tea house there and pushed on to make a successful summit of Gokyo Ri, reaching an elevation of 17,575 ft.

We were elated!  The 360 degree view is spectacular with clear views of Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, Cho Oyu and many other Himilaya peaks.



The Summit of Gokyo Ri 17, 575 The Good Karma Trek with our Sherpa Mountain Adventure Family!






"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the things you did do." ~Mark Twain


One of the things that make our trekking adventure so unique and different is that Karma Sherpa, the operator of Sherpa Mountain Adventures who is from the Khumbu region, is a resident of Colorado and has been for over 9 years.  He works hard to provide the best quality experience possible for every participant.  He is vigilant in his efforts to provide a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone.  He is well-connected with the locals in Nepal and coordinates even the tiniest details of the trek. One of those details is keeping our trekkers healthy by having our very own cooking staff to prepare our meals! Meet Tilaraj Ri, Asis and Pasang...

I'm always impressed with trekkers! Long days of hiking in a country half-way around the world is a challenge!  Taking time off from work, being away from family and friends, leaving the known comforts of home is not always easy.  Our team quickly bonded and had an amazing way of supporting each other and staying positive even on days when people were fighting colds and feeling less than energetic.  Each morning started with quotes that we shared.  Each evening we had opportunities to chat and grow closer. Each day provided opportunities to reflect on life, prioritizing what is most important and what things are really not such a big deal. The Sherpa and Nepalese way of life has a way of rubbing off on you!

"The impossible is only that which has not yet been accomplished" Jeff Lowe


October 29th- We reached Pangboche at 12,900 ft and from there we trekked to Phortse, a farming village set high in the Khumbu region.    Phortse has one of the largest Sherpa communities of Everest climbers! 
It is also home to the Khumbu Climbing Center, which was founded in 2003 with the mission of increasing safety by teaching and encouraging best practices for climbers and high-altitude workers. This school is made possible by the efforts of the Alex Lowe Foundation. Click here for more on Alex Lowe and the Khumbu Climbing Center


Our Good Karma Trek trekked through Tukla and Pheriche with views of Ama Dablam,  Lhotse, Nuptse, Tobuche, Cholatse, Lobuche and Everest.  
Ama Dablam - whose name means Mother and her Necklace, a strikingly beautiful mountain located south of Everest in the Khumbu region.
                             


On the way to Gorak Shep we paused briefly at the Everest Memorial, dedicated in memory of those brave  climbers who lost their lives on Mt. Everest.  A sobering place and a good reminder that the inherent risks of climbing the highest mountains on earth are very real.                                               

The photo to the right is a memorial to Scott Fischer, an American Mountaineer and Guide known for his summits of the worlds highest mountains, without supplemental oxygen.  Fischer and Ed Viesturs were the first Americans to summit K2 without supplemental oxygen. He first climbed Everest in 1994 and later died during the 1996 blizzard on Everest while descending from the peak.

"Mountains are cathedrals: grand and pure, the houses of my religion. I go to them as humans go to worship...From their lofty summits, I view my past, dream of the future, and with unusual acuity I am allowed to experience the present moment. My strength renewed, my vision cleared, in the mountains I celebrate creation. On each journey I am reborn." ~ Anatoli Boukreev 

From Gorak Shep, our Good Karma Team hiked to the summit of Kalapatthar, reaching our highest elevation yet, an impressive if not daunting18,514ft. With Mt. Everest directly behind us, we celebrated our successful summit.


On November 1st, 2016 The team made their way on to their final destination, reaching EBC. 17,650 ft
Congratulations! 


I am grateful to be working as a Guide for Sherpa Mountain Adventures.  Fondly referred to as the 'white sherpa woman', I value my friendships and experiences with my co-guides and staff of SMA.
I am excited to be heading back for my third year to lead the 2017 Good Karma Trek in October.  

In addition to the EBC trek, we are planning another amazing trek, the Annapurna Trek which will be offered in November 2017.  

If you would like to join us, we would love to have you.  



Namaste, Laurie


























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