Nepal and I go back a long way
The endless blue sky fell steeply all around us like a bell. To have reached the peak was glorious, but the nearness of the sky was overpowering.*
(Herbert Tichy, Cho Oyu: By the Favor of the Gods)
* The peak of Machapuchchhre, on the left in this photo, is said to be sacred to Shiva and has never been summited.
Nepal and I go back a long way- back to the ten or eleven year old me, at the biggest bookstore in Bern, Switzerland with my godmother, stubbornly insisting on The Ascent of Everest by John Hunt
as my very first “grown up” book. This eyebrow-raising choice marked the beginning of an irrational but enduring fascination with Nepal’s snowy giants and those who attempt to climb them
So it’s no surprise that a chance encounter in Kathmandu last week felt like another electrifying flashback to my Himalayan daydreams of yesteryear:
We were celebrating my clean bill of health at Pizzeria Fire and Ice in Kathmandu, when I couldn’t help noticing the large sunburned man at the table across from ours, who was methodically putting away one huge serving of strawberries with ice cream after the other, for a total count of three! My imagination drifted into overdrive and I put the man and his Nepalese companion in a flimsy tent in the unrelenting wasteland of the high altitude “death zone”. He’s shivering in his damp sleeping bag, fantasizing about the strawberries he’ll devour if he ever gets off the mountain….
Not so far off the mark my imagination! The strawberry gourmet and the *drumroll* first (and only) real live Sherpa I’ve ever met, were celebrating their return from Everest Base camp. Luckily, Sherpa Nawang turned out to be a Switzerland fan. I swear the mutual photo session was his idea. I’d have settled for an autograph, or something…