Manaslu Expedition "Seeking
everyone, I'm so sorry for not writing earlier, but
wasting time in Kathmandu has become a full-time job.
We leave for the airport in one hour, so I'd better
make this quick.
of all we're all clean, healthy and happy. Tom has a
purple frostbite bulb on the tip of one finger, but
luckily he hasn't done any permanent damage and should
heal quickly. Dan's lips are also nearly healed. Dan
and Brian are keeping the razors at a distance, while
the rest of us had our whiskers taken off with a
straight razor by the local barber. It takes a bit of
nerve to sit still while a stranger holds a blade to
night we enjoyed a quiet dinner at the home of Tashi
Sherpa, our agent here in Nepal. His wife, Nancy, is
from Toronto and she fixed us a delicious lasagna
dinner. It's nice to be a guest instead of a tourist.
me it's going to take some time for this
accomplishment to sink in. Over the past seven weeks
my long-time buddy Brian and I solidified a friendship
that is difficult, if not impossible, to explain. Life
has been to good to me, and there hasn't been a day on
this trip during which I have not offered thanks for
my family and friends. Thank you all for your support,
your interest and especially for keeping nine small
mountain climbers in your thoughts.
closing the only thoughts I can offer are: aim high,
cherish good friends, and most of all remember that
one life is all you need if you live it right.
24: From Bangkok
three hours flight from Kathmandu but a world away.
Certainly far enough to begin reflecting in past tense
on the fantastic adventure we had and try to put it
into the perspective of the rest of our lives.
six American men came to Nepal to do one thing....
climb the eighth tallest mountain in the World. We
were disciplined, focused, and concentrated. We
achieved our goal. But we leave with so much more than
the summit alone. We leave with an experience that is
can we forget dancing in twilight in a small village
square to the soft voices of young girls singing
traditional Nepali folk songs as the entire village
looked on with great joy. Where does it fit in our
experiences of life, common place or otherwise? I do
not know yet but I do know it left an indelible mark
because we all bought Nepali Folk Song CD's before we
the context of his life where does Scott place his
long horse ride through a Tibetan valley to Samdo
guided by a local resident teacher and civic leader?
Scott has ridden many horses in his lifetime and will
ride many more. He will never ride one in the same
space and time as richly surrounded by the sites,
sounds and people of this near Tibetan region. When we
first saw him upon his return he could have passed for
Tibetan. His skin was black with dirt, his hair was
long and dusty and his cloths smelled richly of the
Tibetan animal. I know because I spent that night with
him in a tent. The trip and companionship were so
moving for Scott that he worked for days afterward to
return the favor by arranging to fly roofing panels
for the local school to the village on our helicopter.
bond we formed with our Sherpa will last the rest of
our lives. They are models for sacrifice and care. I
will never forget Kikami climbing up to me as I
approached Camp 2 (exhausted on the way back from the
summit) offering "water sir" or Kan Cha
taking over Jerome's pack when he was sick. They
always smiled, always watched with a anticipatory eye
and yet gave us all the opportunity to achieve on our
own. These are men from a special culture with a gift
for interacting with patience and respect. We all
learned some of the traits of that gift. I am sure,
though not yet spoken about, we all intend to practice
some of those traits when we return to family, work,
bus ride to start the trek. Finally we were out of
Kathmandu. Our first look at the "real"
Nepal countryside. We stared out the windows in
amazement, joy and wonder until we ran out of road. In
America one runs out of road a lot sooner than in
then, after the first night out, the porters came.
Like magic they appeared from the hill sides above the
Buri Gandhaki river sand. 97 of them to start. Their
nearly black faces were impossible to photograph in
the flat light of the rising sun. They crowded
together and haggled over their loads. But they were
happy for the work and just as anxious as us for the
long journey ahead. Our relationship with them lasted
for nine days. We passed each several times a day on
the rough trails. We got familiar with their work
patterns, their nightly customs, got to know some by
name and even traded loads once as a joke. Then they
were gone. Depositing us in Sama and rushing all the
way back down the river valley. Some were barefoot.
Others wore colorful scarves of tightly woven Yak
wool. All had infectious smiles.
Sirdar, Narwang. The Nepal version of Alan Alda.
Always comical but always in charge. His sort of tough
guy image cracked as we approached the summit. He had
been on many expeditions. He knew what can happen when
climbers get over 24,000 feet in what climbers call
the death zone. He managed things well and was both
proud and moved when it was done. He is coming to the
U.S. next year. He accepted my invitation to stay in
my home without hesitation. Serving as Sirdar was not
just work for him.
so much more. In the coming months we will sort it all
out. What will remain for certain is a sense of
humility and peace. We traveled to the roof of the
world and achieved what most just dream of. We have
bragging rights but none of us are bragging. Instead
we have left Nepal with a calm confidence and a
profound respect for the chance to have touched the
corner of the sky and return to our families, jobs and
daily lives never to be the same.