After having happy birthday sung to me by both our group and the Launceston College group (embarrassing), we made the short walk from Namche to Khumjung. It was one of the first days where everyone seemed to be in relatively good health; a very welcome change. We crossed paths with some beautiful Nepali children who were eager to show off their hopping ability, and walked over one of the world’s highest airstrips. As we reached the peak of the hill above Namche, a truly surreal scene unrolled before us. Views of Mt Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam stood unobstructed, and we breathed it in from amongst the prayer flags of a stupa which stood atop the hill. The descent into Khumjung was short and easy, and as every day on trek, we were welcomed into camp (in this case, a lodge) with a generous lunch, served by Chhering, Nawng, Hom, and Bikash; our guides and Sherpas.
Trek to Everest 2015 Day 6 : 04-12-2015
We made our way to a nearby monastery, famed for its sacred Yeti skull monument. However, on arrival, most of us realised we had no money and couldn’t pay the entry fee, and so reluctantly moved on, deprived of the experience that Doug had raved so enthusiastically about. We walked to Khunde, the neighbouring village, where we visited the hospital and Sue made an incredibly generous donation of antibiotics. We also spotted our first Yaks and Yaklings. While there, a large group from Braemar College in Victoria arrived, and once the ice was broken we discovered that they were on their way back from Everest Base Camp. They looked quite dishevelled, and at times it felt like their stories were designed to scare us. Tina couldn’t remember the name of Ama Dablam, so in an attempt to save face, she confidentially claimed, ‘at least I know which way Everest is’, and
pointed in what must have been the polar opposite direction to the actual whereabouts of Everest.
Despite this, we parted with kind words (‘you’ll be right’), and made our way back to the lodge. Somewhere between the monastery and hospital, King Dom had discretely slipped back to the lodge, suspecting that he was falling sick.That evening before dinner, we got given a very serious talk about the effects of altitude, and the drugs that could be used to both avoid and treat altitude sickness. Although stern, Doug, Sue, and Bikash gave us all the advice and information we needed to make an informed choice about how to best look after ourselves, and when we should begin taking Diamox. Jim Bob (James Roberts), in his
typical form, noted, ‘why would you take no Diamox and have a bad sleep, when you can take no Diamox and just not sleep at all?’.
After dinner – it was good, and plentiful, as always – I sensed something was not quite right. Bikash was trying to make me focus on my cards, and everyone was acting strange. I turned, and Lakba, our chef, was standing behind me holding a cake. The group sang happy birthday for the second time that day, and the owner of the lodge wrapped a scarf around my neck, telling me it was for good luck. Doug gave a speech and Ellie said a few words, and the whole evening had me a little choked up. I was very lucky and so grateful to spend my birthday in such an amazing place, with a great group of people. Questions of the day: ‘Did Lakba cook the cake, or did he buy it from the cheesecake shop?’ - Tina
Special Report: Doug Grubert, Trek Leader
This post is dedicated to all those who teach others to read and to love books (you know who you are).
Adventures within Adventures: Reading Habits of the 2015 Expeditioners
I work at a primary school where the library is a place where people want to be. Students and parents alike line up outside each morning waiting for the doors to open like shoppers waiting for the post-Christmas sales. At the end of the day, others linger beyond closing time and need to be ushered out the doors so that the library staff can lock the doors and head home. But what is the connection between a primary school library back in Tasmania and a group of adventurers trekking in the Himalaya? It’s simple really… Books.
All of the participants in this year’s expedition are adventurers. They’re explorers who want to discover new things for themselves, experience things first hand. They want to learn about the world by engaging with the world viscerally. I can’t help but think that part of the reason for their curiosity, confidence and desire for adventure stems from reading. You see books, whether fact or fiction, contemporary or historical, allow students to go on adventures in their mind which whet the appetite and teach them that there is a wide world out there to be discovered and experienced for one’s self.
Books don’t just inspire us to seek out experiences for ourselves; they help us to connect to one another. I’ve listened in to a number of conversations (invited and uninvited) on the plane, waiting in various airports, along the trail and sitting around at meal times. “What are you reading?” “Is it good?” “I love that book!” “Can I read it once you’ve finished?” Our disparate group: students from four different schools, a doctor and a teacher; all finding common ground based on the written word. And it is not unique to our group. Books and adventure are extrinsically linked. Everywhere we go we see travellers reading, every teahouse and lodge has a collection of well-worn books, waiting patiently for the next person to come along, open the pages and escape into a different time and place. Even on this expedition, as we engage in a once-in-a-lifetime experience, we will go to bed and for ten of fifteen minutes before we fall asleep each of us will leave Nepal and travel to some other place or time. But it is not escapism, rather I like to think of it as an adventure within an adventure.
What is on the reading list:
Zoe Dowling: Born to Run, Christopher McDougall
Celsey Adams: Everything to Live For, Turia Pitt with Libby Harkness
Max Keating: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
James Smallwood: Magician, Raymond E Feist
Beth Van De Kamp: Air Kiss & Tell, Charlotte Dawson with Jo Thornely
Lucy Bell: Into The Wild, Jon Krakauer
Ellie Wivell: I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai
Ella Johnson: Tomorrow When the war Began, John Marsden
Sam Strong: The Bridge on the River Kwai, Pierre Boulle
Doug Grubert: All The Light You Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
Sue Keating: The Snow Leopard, Peter Mattheson
- What is your favourite adventure story?
- Not supplied
- What is the book Lucy Bell is reading about?