London Travel Blog

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Most of my journeys start at either Heathrow or Gatwick, but my Nepali mountaineering adventure really began a year earlier, on a bike, happily grinding up the last couple of kilometres to Sach Pass in India - just follow the arc of the Himalaya up and to the left for about a thousand miles from Everest, and yep - that's me in the orange jacket. Blue skies, not too cold, and once over the pass, we'd be going downhill for pretty much the rest of the ride - a perfect day, if a bit steep for my liking, so I was going extremely slowly. The thing about mountain cycling is that by definition you tend to use the passes between the tall white pointy things either side, whilst the thing about going slowly is you get a chance to look around. Put these two together, a little voice quietly whispers "hmm, I wonder what it's like up there?" and the switch gets thrown on a 40 watt lightbulb.

Within a couple of months of returning from India, my mind was made up and the obvious first question arose - what's the highest/most exciting thing I could do without actually knowing anything about climbing? The answer it seems is something like Island Peak, at the business end of the Khumbu Valley in Eastern Nepal. Island Peak is just South of Everest, which I assume would provide fantastic views of the biggest mountain in the world, but then some idiot put Lhotse between the two, hence no panorama. 6189m high, Island Peak was ceremonially installed as my desktop wallpaper and the adventure officially began...

Ahead was a year of extra freelance work to pay for the trip and a crash course in the neat stuff I would need to walk up a biggish hill. Trying on double plastic climbing boots for example - £125 each (you need two). Now, I've never spent £250 on a pair of boots before (why can I hear half the women reading this saying "£250 isn't THAT much for nice boots"), so without really engaging my critical faculties the words "seems a bit expensive" came out of my mouth. As I was standing in a highly regarded mountaineering shop and the guy showing me the boots had led over 50 trekking and climbing expeditions to the greater ranges, it was to his credit that he resisted the temptation to beat me to death with said boot. Instead, he just arched an eyebrow and observed, "It works out £25 per toe - are your toes worth £25 each?", which shut me up. After many such conversations in many such outdoor equipment retailers, I was ready to leave, so I went to Gatwick...

alicegourmet says:
That's true! A pair of good hiking boots are very will be difficult to hike if your shoes are not comfortable or provide enough support to your feet.
Posted on: Nov 12, 2009
ezwriter says:
Ha, ha - - well written and funny. Sounds like a great adventure... and an amazing state of mind. Congrads for taking a dream and making it happen. Can't wait to read more!!!
Posted on: Nov 05, 2009
ajdennis1980 says:
Wow, what a trip. Would love to do something like this one day :)
Posted on: Nov 02, 2009
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