First of all let me update you on my overnight stay at 10,000 feet this weekend. Yes, I did get a headache during the day and I took some Advil. I spent a few hours down low (at 6,000 feet) then drove back up. Yes, that goes contrary to the principle of hiking high and sleeping low. At night I was having trouble with breathing and I couldn’t sleep. I guess I’ll have to re-evaluate my advice on front-loading your acclimatization, but then it could be that I had watched a Harry Potter video.
This summer I made a very good new friend. As you know, Pema Dorje Sherpa is our resident Sherpa guide from Khumjung, Nepal. During the summers, when the monsoons slow things down through the country, Pema likes to spend time visiting the friends he has made through his trekking adventures. He especially likes Utah because families here have sponsored both of his daughters. For the whole month of August he and I were roomies and I took every opportunity to ask him about his life back at home. We would actually hold “interviewing sessions” (never mind that I was an interrogator in the Army) and I would make him break and divulge the differences between a yak, a nak, a bull, a cow, and a tzo. It was a tense couple of hours on that one. I ended up with 40 pages of hand-written notes, as well as a sense of having been to his homeland already.
Of course my interest in talking with him so much was to build up content for this website, but it was unavoidable that I would gain tremendous respect for him and that I would make my own connection with him. He has made friends with many other fascinating individuals, so I feel fortunate to have worked with him so closely. Of course I wanted to ask him all about the famous hikers and Sherpas who have toiled against the forces of nature to reach Nepal’s intimidating summits. He has an entirely different perspective on the hype about hiking the Himalayas. He has successfully led groups to the summit of Mt. Everest on multiple occasions, and some of his dearest Western and Sherpa friends have repeated the assault many times. He sees that endeavor as a huge gamble each time. He says those friends would keep going up, but then one time they wouldn’t come back. He was lucky in a sense to have made 3 successful summits to Mt. Everest in 3 attempts, and now he wants to watch over his family and enjoy getting to know his friends around the world. He also wants to make sure his two sons don’t get the crazy idea of doing 8,000-meter expeditions themselves.base camp high altitude headache hiking Mt. Everest Nepalese culture Pema Sherpa Trekking in Nepal