What I did on my (spring) vacation
Nepal and Tibet, those two near-mystical pillars of a pragmatic Himalayan spiritualism, share a long border. The historically dominant crossing between the two is the Nangpa La, a 19,000 foot pass. In Nepal, it’s far from supported trails; in Tibet, it’s besieged by Chinese infantry covering the movements of Tibetan refugees.
One month ago, I climbed it, alone. Here’s what happened – day by day – in 15,000 words.
- Day 0 – I wake up early, hungover; I go to sleep with drunken Communists.
- Day 1 – I break my feet in, get a good dose of reality, and meet some kindly lesbians.
- Day 2 – I climb though Nepali heaven, and push out late into the night.
- Day 3 – The trail is shit, and the skies are rainy. I call it a day early.
- Day 4 – I think I can make Lukla. I am reminded why the porters can, but I can’t.
- Day 5 – I wake up in a barn, get lost in the rain and mud, and end in Times Square.
- Day 6 – I trod well-traveled trails; the altitude emerges as a force to reckon with.
- Day 7 – “Adventure begins here;” ends on the smoky floor of a dugout in the fog.
- Day 8 – I cross 5000 meters, alone amidst the stones.
- Day 9 – I step out onto the glacier and crawl forward inch by inch.
- Day 10, on ascent – I start at dawn, and end with the tears of a reconciled courage.
- Day 10, on return – This is the one with the blood and hallucinations.
- Day 11 – I’m walking the fuck out, on the stumps if I have to.
- Day 12 – I rest, the way corpses do.
- Day 13 – I bound back to the mountain metropolis, chin high and smile bright.
- Day 14 – Cruising down is cruising. I meet an old new friend.
- Day 15 – Shit never smelled sweeter, and wet rain never felt better.
- Day 16 – It’s done. Is it done?
- Day 17 – There’s a dozen of us, in the mud and rain, and we are one again.
- Day 18 – Kathmandu is dust, but Kathmandu is home.