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We just missed Everest, or all dreams must come true

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Author: Olga Kovrigina, 35, г. Moscow, Russia
Teamleader: Oleksandr Pavlov
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How did it all begin? It's hard to remember exactly now. A few years ago my husband and I suddenly became interested in the mountains, going on a small trek on each of our trips. Little by little, climbing higher and higher, tackling increasingly difficult climbs. As if all in jest - will we make it to that peak? But, step by step, we fell in love. The mountains beckoned and called us in all seriousness.

One day someone wrote to me about the Himalayas. I was horrified and decided that these people were from some other world. Are you serious? Me? I could never walk in real, serious mountains.

However, time went by. And the movie Everest came out. Walking out of the theater in tears, I was desperately jealous of the heroes of the story. We quarreled with friends: “Olya, did you watch the film carefully?! Most of the characters actually died. What was all that for?”. But I knew why. I knew now.

Since then, a dream had dawned on me: to reach at least the Everest base camp. To see the mountain with my own eyes. To breathe the same air that many, many daredevils breathed when they conquered the highest peak in the world. But I was still afraid and joked that I would go when I retired, when I had nothing to lose.

And then this summer we happened to talk about Nepal when we thought about where to go on my traditional birthday trip. For eight years I have had a tradition of celebrating the start of my new year somewhere far away from my hometown. It was like a dream: we had just announced the idea, and in a few weeks we had already bought tickets to Kathmandu and booked the tour.

Was the dream about to come true…?

Since 2006 my husband and I have been traveling independently and over the years we have managed to see a lot of countries. Frankly speaking, we have too much of our own stuff. But we are not crazy. 🙂 Thoroughly weighing the pros and cons, we decided to overpay, but not to go to the base camp trek by ourselves. Give ourselves to the professionals who will take us by the hand and lead us into the mountains. We had never been up above 3,000 meters and we had no idea how our bodies would behave in extreme conditions. We are not very good sportsmen, especially me.

Why Kuluar? Just a coincidence. As I understand it now, incredibly lucky. Because everything was not even at 100, but at 300%.

We were looking for a tour on certain dates. And everything came together here: time, cost, and itinerary. What’s more, we didn’t even know about the Gokyo Lakes route when we started our search. And when we found out, we immediately chose it just by looking at the pictures.

So we were in a team of eight. It’s laughable now to think back on all the misguided fears we had. What kind of people we would be, how we would find common ground. They all dissipated in the very first moment we got to know each other. Responsive, cheerful, young, interesting. All travelers with a baggage of stories, in love with the mountains. Great company! And when you are near each other all day long: climbing the mountain side by side, brushing your teeth at the sink, waiting for your morning porridge, standing in line for the toilet, hearing your comrade tossing and coughing behind the wall – comfort in communication and a sense of humor become one of the basic conditions for successful travel. And it all worked out for us.

Наша группа на треке

I will not describe the route and write about everything in detail. My husband already did it in his report “To see Everest and survive! 🙂

I will tell only about the most vivid memories. The diary of the unusually impressionable and not very sporty girl, who got out to the big mountains for the first time.

Day 1

On arrival in Kathmandu we were met by instructor Sasha. At first I doubted why we should be met, but in the first minutes, when a crowd of cab drivers, porters and just people who had nothing to do came upon me, I thanked the Universe for this generous gift from the organizers.

“There’s someone banging on our car with their fist!” – I rounded my eyes in horror as I barely got into the cab.

“Ah, don’t worry…” replied Sasha with a yawn, “it’s the local parktronic.”

To the uninitiated, Kathmandu is sweeping and discouraging. Dirty, dusty. The rules of the road do not exist as such. Everyone drives as they see fit. Cyclists, motorcyclists, and bicycle rickshaws move like molecules in Brownian motion. Being in a car is just scary.

I remember looking at Sasha, listening to his calm voice, laughing at his jokes, and gradually relaxing more and more. We had our own reliable bastion of calm. Sasha instilled confidence from the very first minutes that everything would be okay.

Мост Хиллари в Непале

Day 2. Lukla

Early in the morning, long before dawn, we packed our bags, said goodbye to a comfortable life, sighed, and left the hotel for Kathmandu in order to catch our flight. I found myself wiping my sweaty palms and muttering affirmations. I was a little shaky with fear and excitement.

And there’s the reason. In 2010, the History Channel named Tanzing and Hillary Airport the most dangerous airport in the world. It is located at an altitude of 2,900 meters. The runway is a very short one – only 527 meters – and on top of that it has a 12% grade. On one side is a 700-meter cliff, on the other side is a high mountain. And there is simply no possibility for the pilot to make the second landing circle.

The weather in Lukla is unusually capricious. As a rule, by lunchtime, the sky is covered with haze and there are clouds. There are often thunderstorms. So the flights take place from early morning until about 12 o’clock. And the beauty of it is that you never know when you’re going to leave. Yes, you buy your ticket in advance, but predicting future events is meaningless. This is Nepal. 🙂

On the inside, the plane looks like a shuttle bus. There are 14 seats, one seat on each side of the window, and a narrow aisle. On the floor there are our backpacks. The cockpit is not fenced off in any way, so everyone can see the dashboard and the view out the window in front.

A little tip for those who have everything just ahead. The most interesting things happen on the front seats. If you’re scared, get on the last one, the stewardess. Before you know it, you’ll be landing.

Аэропорт Лукла

Day 3. Start

It’s pretty easy to recognize the newcomers to the track. Everyone is fresh, full of energy and enthusiasm. The men are still smoothly shaven, the girls sometimes with neat makeup and hairstyles. White faces, white hands. Clean and tidy clothes, shoes.

The road is simple, so it is easy and fun to walk. It is warm and you can not feel the height yet. Tourists are eagerly turning their heads. They are interested in absolutely everything: the first caravan of yaks, the first prayer stones, the first porters. Taking pictures of every flag, every stupa. Not to miss a single drum, certainly spinning each one for good luck, cleansing their karma.

I remember how our first snowy peak came out from behind the clouds for literally seconds at a halt. How we called to each other with voices ringing with happiness and pointing to the mountain.

The recruits are still learning to walk on four limbs using sticks. They cautiously step on their first suspension bridges, trying not to look down. They are picky about the cleanliness of the dishes in which they are served food and tea. They turn their noses up at the toilets. Shivering in the wind. You bet, in their short shorts and tank tops, barely arriving from below where it was so hot. And even the first cold night at the lodge tonight will seem like fun to them, because it’s just beginning.

In two weeks’ time, very different people will be coming back down.

It’s not until the end of the third day that the road suddenly rises sharply. And for the first time you begin to wonder where you went, picking up the body’s alarm bells. But there’s a reward waiting at the top.

If you stand in the right place, framed by the dark branches of the trees, far, far away on the horizon-so far that the camera lens can hardly reach-the summit will appear.

“Hello, Everest. I’ve been dreaming of you for so long.”

Day 4. Acclimatization

At night some rascal had tied invisible 200-kilogram weights to my legs. How else to explain the fact that each step was given with exorbitant difficulty?

Yes. Yesterday, on the approach to Namche Bazaar, I suddenly felt sick. I was the first of the group to feel mountain sickness. I was shaking and nauseous. Nevertheless, I heroically made it to the small radial, crammed myself with a dozen dumplings under Sasha’s watchful eyes and, it seems, I recovered a little.

Today, however, the situation worsened. There they are, my feet. I walk as usual. But for some reason my heart is rattling, my head is foggy, my stomach is twisting, and my lungs are bursting.

Our Nepali guide, Sogar, seeing my misery, offered to carry my backpack. I shook my head in a negative way, it was not right, I was an athlete and a climber… And the first day to fall so low? But sadly watching as the figures of my companions disappear on the horizon, was forced to agree. It didn’t get much better, though. Only the thought of a Japanese hotel and a short rest helped me to go further.

Around me, no longer hiding, were the majestic peaks of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. And far below, about 600 meters below us, the Dudh Kosi River, which we had just crossed the day before, was writhing in silver. And only someone with very good eyesight could see the double string of beads across it – the Hillary Bridge. Making one fill with pride in one’s small successes.

Намче Базар

We had an extensive program planned for that day.

First, the above-mentioned Japanese hotel for rich and extremely busy people. They have no time for hiking, but still want to see the Himalayas. The clever Japanese came up with a solution: the rich people fly here by helicopter, spend the night and fly back. Some of the hotel rooms even have extra oxygen to make it easier and more comfortable for the clients to bear the hypoxia.

We, on the other hand, stayed here exclusively for tea with a stunning view of Everest.

Then we walked through the village of Kumjung. We saw how the most ordinary Sherpas live.

And then went even higher, to the memorials dedicated to Sir Hillary and his family.

4,000 meters and absolutely stunning views.

You don’t even realize you’re hooked, “Wow, my first 4,000! But if you go higher, for sure it will be even more beautiful!” So there you are, hooked on the drug called “mountains.”

It was a very challenging day. I was exhausted on the way back down to Namche Bazaar. On the way, we stopped by a Buddhist monastery where, to our surprise, a service was being held. After taking off our heavy boots, we entered the monastery and sat down along the walls on soft cushions. A smiling woman spread a tray of sweet hot tea. Shivering, we quietly sipped our drink and watched the service. The repetitive mantras sung by the monks, the beating of drums and the humming of trumpets merged into a seemingly insane cacophony of sounds, echoing off the walls and lapping in waves. But gradually we began to fall into a trance, and one by one we relaxed, enjoying what was happening. The hot tea did its job, the coziness of the monastery enveloped us, the woman with the tea still had the same friendly smile. And I remembered the previous day and wept quietly with happiness.

Мемориалы Хиллари

Day 5 and 6

The next two days were very quiet and unremarkable.

We continued to gain altitude and get used to our new life.

To each other. It is not so easy to live side by side with people we did not know before.

To the new daily routine. Getting up at 6 a.m., packing a suitcase, and 7 a.m. for breakfast. Until the whole group is assembled, breakfast is not served. So if you are late, seven pairs of hungry eyes stare at you reproachfully. Fuss at the table: “Who ordered the porridge? These are my pancakes, not yours! Why did they bring me two coffees! Who wants to finish my pasta?” A quick packing and around 8 we were on our way.

“Jam-jam?” – Sogar asked cheerfully. (Coming?)

“Jam-jam!” – we cheerfully bellowed with the enthusiasm of an elementary kindergarten class, pulling on our gloves and adjusting our backpacks as we went.

We were getting used to the new food. After all, the meat and chicken eggs were left downstairs. And the higher up you go, the less variety is left in the diet.

To life in almost camping conditions. In the constant cold, with almost no electricity and no internet.

We formed new habits. We measured the level of oxygen in the blood in the morning and evening, told Sasha in detail about the symptoms and sensations, did not forget to regularly apply sunscreen and put a chocolate bar in his pocket.

We got used to walking in the clouds, seeing helicopters flying below us somewhere and admiring the whirling of giant eagles overhead.

One thing we couldn’t get used to. With every meter I gained, the scenery around me became more and more fantastic. But there was more to come…

Гималаи

Day 8. First testings

“Can you give me five minutes?” – I asked Sogar, turning around and running away from him in the opposite direction. When I got a decent distance away, I sat down on a rock and burst into bitter tears. I burst into tears. Not ashamed that someone would hear.

What am I doing here? Why am I here? What was I thinking?

I cried and felt very sorry for myself. There was just no one else to feel sorry for me, everyone had long since left.

On my return, I was often asked if I wanted to get off the trail. Perhaps that was the day I really could have had such an idea. It was a watershed moment. It was unbearably hard for me both physically and mentally.

I was constantly coming in last. No matter how hard I tried to give it my best and keep up, I was still falling behind. It was getting harder and harder. Sogar had been carrying my backpack for a long time, even though there was nothing heavy in it. The guys stopped to wait, but as soon as we moved on, it was like someone was pulling me back.

They were much stronger than I was. Even though almost all of them were sick with mountain sickness, I was still the weakest.

After five steps, I was instantly out of breath. After another three steps, my nose would get blocked, making it impossible to breathe normally. If I breathed through my mouth, I was immediately strangled by a dry cough. My legs did not obey, each step was tiny and clumsy. Rocks would slip out from under my shoes, sticks would get tangled and trip me up. And the day before, because of problems with my glasses and the bright sunny day, something like snow blindness had happened to me: suddenly my eyes went dark and a tight ball burst inside my skull with a sharp pain.

In an attempt to take a deep breath, I suddenly felt a pain in my heart. A heart attack? This is where I’m going to die… I sobbed again.

The icy wind finally found a loophole in the many layers of clothing, and fiercely began to make its way further. Sogar waited patiently. My five minutes were up; I had to go. I blew my nose, wiped away the tears, and stood up. No, I’m going all the way! I would make it alone, I would make it in a week, but I would make it. Suddenly a wave of insane rage came over me, and it added to my strength, making my legs move faster.

Трекинг к Эвересту

“Miss! Miss!!!” – suddenly came through the gusts of wind. I whirled my head around, trying to figure out where I was, where Sogar was, and where the voices were coming from. Oh no… My guide was standing on top of a nearby hill. The one next to the one I’d just come down from. Blinded by anger, I lost my direction and made my way resolutely in an entirely different direction. And, worst of all, I was going downhill! I roared with helplessness, and, swallowing back tears, began to climb back up the rolling, rickety rocks.

When I finally reached the guys, there was a dull emptiness inside. I didn’t care about anything. I think this was the first time I hadn’t smiled.

“Everything okay?” – Sasha asked. – Are you in pain?”

I muttered something inarticulate in response, and hurried to hide behind the rocks to wipe away the tears that were running down my cheeks. But on my way back, I bumped into him again.

“Congratulations on your first five thousand! You’re doing a tremendous job. I can see how hard it is for you, but you’re going. I’m proud of you!” – A radiant Sashka hugged me. – “Now let’s run for a picture!!!”

Shouting various silly things with the guys in front of the camera lens, laughing and hugging, I suddenly became clearly aware of a change inside. It was as if a magic light had been turned on that chased away all the monsters. I was alive again. All around me is one of the most amazing panoramas on the planet. I’m really good, and I have a lot to be proud of. And all the nonsense that was killing me an hour ago is left somewhere on the wrong track. It’s going to be different from now on.

My first five thousand, damn it, how hard you made it for me… But I’ll never forget that day. Never.

У подножия Эвереста

Day 9. First ascent.

The alarm clock started ringing at 4 a.m. It was so dark and cold that my husband and I lay there for another half an hour, unable to move and get out of the warm sleeping bag. But someday we would have to do it anyway… In the meantime, a group of us had already gathered outside. They stomped around the water tank in an attempt to wash themselves. But there was no water in the tank, only ice that refused to come out of the tap. Clutching meaningless toothbrushes and not knowing what else to do, we raised our heads to the sky and were stunned: it was densely packed with pulsating stars. This happens only in fairy tale movies. And also in the mountains.

We hurriedly drank hot tea, put on our warmest things. Today we were to ascend for the first time.

It is very exciting! With flashlights on our foreheads, in the darkness and complete silence we lined up and prepared for several hours of ascent. The frosty air stung our cheeks and nose furiously, our fingers and toes went numb every now and then, and the steam from our own breath turned the baffle into a piece of jewelry, intricately hanging icy patterns on the fabric. Walking was difficult.

“And right now normal people are sitting on the ocean somewhere, sipping pina coladas…” – We reasoned with Maryana, the second girl in our group, and another crazy person who decided to go to the mountains for her birthday. We already sat down for the tenth time to rest, while the male part of the group turned into tiny dots at the top.

The frequent stops were even a joy today. As we rested, we watched the colorless peaks of the mountains on the horizon slowly catch fire. Dawn in the mountains is worth any sleepless nights. Unseen painter painted the dull gray landscape, not sparing the paints. I wanted to cry again, but already from delight and happiness.

To be honest, I barely remember that day. By an effort of will you make your legs and arms walk. Yes, your hands, too. And the only thought is how to get to that rock. And then to the next one. And then some more. There it is, the top, close. But why have I been crawling for half an hour and it’s not coming?

And only when you get to the top, you catch the arrival again. Yes! I did it! I want more! 🙂

Gokyo-Ri. 5330 meters. And I myself do not believe in these figures. All around bustle, joyful faces of similar summit conquerors, clicking of camera shutters, music from mobile porters, different colored flying mantras in the wind… And I wish I understood what makes me so dizzy: the lack of oxygen in the air or the surrounding unimaginable beauties.

Восхождение на Гокио Ри

Day 10. Cho-La Pass.

On no other trip have I experienced so much stress. I can tell you that for sure. The early climbs, the cold, the altitude, the bad cold, and the new daily challenges.

The night before the tenth day of the trip, I didn’t sleep. I was afraid. Ahead of us awaited perhaps the most difficult and dangerous section of the trip, the Cho-La Pass (5,367m).

Both Sasha’s instructions and the description of the route terrified me.

The group took a long time to get ready and left late. Sasha was clearly dissatisfied. Firstly, it could snow at the altitude and then the danger and difficulty of the trek would increase even more. Secondly, we had to get to the tiny village with the lodge first. Otherwise, we would have had to walk another 6 km. So we were off to a brisk start.

Mariana and I were at the end again. Sogar stayed close to us, watching our every move. The description said that the first part of the route would be gentle. But, believe me, at five thousand, even the descents felt like climbs at times. I didn’t want to think about what that “steep climb” would turn out to be. That day we were to climb 600 meters.

After a few hours we climbed high enough to see the panorama with the pass itself. My eyes went black with terror and my legs buckled. How is it possible to go up there?

– Sash, I’m very afraid…

– Everything will be all right!

– Sash, I forgot to tell you. I am afraid of heights. And clumsy.

– Let’s go.

My imagination imagined that we would walk along a narrow path and at some point we would have to step over a chasm. I don’t know where I got that from. In fact, we were climbing all the time. If all the trails in the Himalayas are on foot, here we were clinging with our hands and pulling ourselves up. Sticks sometimes got in the way, but they were necessary to keep up on the loose surface while shifting our feet. The people coming down made the already difficult progress incredibly difficult. At one point I lost my balance a little, jabbed the sticks into the rocks, and realized that they didn’t catch. At the same time the sand spilled down from under my feet, and… I hovered in the air, waving my arms ridiculously, tumbling backward. It was a moment, a second. It would probably take me longer to go down. Sogar reacted instantly, grabbing me in his arms and pulling me up. I didn’t realize until much later how the day might have ended.

As usual, I was the last one to reach the pass. The wind was raging at the summit, the clouds had thickened and it was beginning to snow. Sasha was in a hurry. Sogar and I halved my Snickers and headed further up to the glacier. Now we had to drop 500 meters. What a shame!

There are a lot of dangers on the glacier. You could slip and fall on your own, fall off. You could fall into a rockfall or even an avalanche. We were in a hurry to get through this section. We were given crampons to move on the slippery ice.

Given my sore knee, the way down was not much easier. But when the descent was finally behind me, I was filled with a sense of boundless exhilaration along with deadly fatigue. The trail ran through a flat, unimaginably beautiful valley, the whole group disappearing over the horizon. I even let Sogar go, assuring him that I wouldn’t be lost. I could barely move my aching legs, and I laughed my head around 180 degrees, sang songs, and cried. Maybe I was a little crazy from the hardships I had endured. But still, I think it was just happiness.

Ледник

Day 12. Everest base camp and my birthday

This was the day I definitely wanted to meet in the trek. We had long ago paid for the trek, bought all the tickets and hotels, when on the very last day I decided to put the numbers on the route. What was my surprise when I realized that my birthday was right on the way to base camp! There are no coincidences like that.

Still, this day was the strangest of all my 36 years.

Remember when we were kids, we used to wake up early in the morning because we were excited for presents and celebration? This night I didn’t sleep either. The runny nose spray was long gone, unlike the runny nose itself, which didn’t give me the slightest chance to sleep. When my nose is not breathing at 5,000, it is impossible to sleep. I agonizingly tossed and turned, suffering, fiercely tormenting my nose, ears and sinuses… nothing helped me. Sometimes I dozed off and felt as if I was walking around the base camp begging for oxygen. When my alarm clock rang, I opened my eyes with the feeling that I hadn’t slept a second.

I felt no joy. Not at all. I had forgotten it was my holiday.

But, when I came out for breakfast, I was greeted with laughter, jokes, mocking questions of “how are you feeling?”, hugs, congratulations, and Sasha even gave me a gift. This day promised to be very difficult.

So, we went out to the camp. Though this was the 12th day of the route it did not get any easier for me. Still I walked.

Very soon Everest looked out from behind the peaks of neighboring peaks. It’s always easy to recognize by its snow flags. I looked at it with all my eyes and couldn’t believe it. He was so close. Had I really done it? Had my dream come true…?

After a while there was a huge flat area on the Khumbu Glacier. Every spring they set up base camp here to pitch hundreds of tents and prepare for the ascent to the summit. Here we are.

What was I feeling at that moment? Endless fatigue. And a quiet peace. The guys again began to congratulate me on my birthday, my husband took out a gift – a pendant with the image of mountains. The package insert said, “Mountains and made to show a person what a dream can look like…”

Oh! I cried too many times in this trek…

Вершина Эвереста впереди

After dinner, we couldn’t seem to separate. My husband was pulling something and looking around nervously.

“Come on, I don’t have the energy. We have to be up at 4:00 in the morning.”

“Yes, yes, now…”

We were sitting in a frankly miserable dining room. Cold, dark, all the walls decorated with signs like “Osya and Kisa were here.” It was so cold that we had already put on everything we were carrying. Then “Happy Birthday to you” sounded, and our porters came out carrying a tiny, slanted apple pie with five candles on a tray.

When the applause died down, we ordered another thermos of tea. We cut the pie into eight tiny little pieces and settled in to celebrate. Someone took a picture, which I called “hobos in camp. I look at it and laugh. It’s blurry and weird. But so precious.

You know, you don’t have to celebrate holidays in expensive dresses and prestigious restaurants to feel your happiest. I’ve never felt so comfortable and relaxed on this day.

Day 13

As I was blowing out the candles on the birthday cake, I suddenly made a wish. To reach the summit of Kala Pattar the next day.

Frankly, I wanted nothing more. My goal and dream had been achieved – I reached base camp. What more could I want? And so I had done the impossible for myself. I was so sick and exhausted that I was not looking forward to any continuation of the journey, madly wanting to go home. To warmth. Where I could breathe normally. Where I could bathe in hot water.

The next day was to be, perhaps, the most difficult. First the ascent, and after the long descent. About 20 km.

Realizing that I was holding everybody up, I offered Sasha not to go to the summit and to go down by himself to get a small head start. Of course I was offended to have to give up one more record beforehand. But I had to be sober about the situation.

“As you want,” Sasha gently replied, “you can come out with us, meet the dawn on the way, and then come down, have breakfast, pack your things… Whatever you feel like.”

What a trickster. I belived it!

Озера Гокио

First the alarm clock rang. It was 3:00 in the morning.

“Olechka, wake up!” – Mariana’s voice came from behind the wall. And laughter. The plywood was so thin and holey that we could interject with the whole group without raising our voices.

It must have been minus 15 outside. It was unthinkably cold!

We gathered in Sasha’s room, drank tea in silence, and snacked on honey. The porters were asleep in the dining room, it was too early to wake them up.

We set out in pitch darkness. I, as usual, was the last to go. It’s a strange feeling when you don’t know where you’re going. It’s like being in a dark room, except you’re going up. And it’s hard to breathe. And from above and below there are chains of light cast by the lanterns of the ascendants.

I could turn back at any moment. I could have turned back at any moment. Or just a little bit more. Just to see the dawn.

But in the meantime there was no dawn. And all of a sudden I managed to get to the top.

Well, my new record. 5,645 meters.

But it wasn’t even the fact that we got a new altitude. It was that right next to us was Everest. We had never seen it so close and clear before, it had always been obscured by its neighbors.

The summit of Kala Pattar is considered tiny and ridiculous compared to the mountains around it. Mountaineers who plan to climb the summit of Everest go here for fun, to stretch themselves a bit. For us it was a serious achievement.

We stood in the pre-dawn twilight, gritting our teeth and waiting for the sun to come out from behind Everest. I could not feel my arms and legs, I had to rub them for a long time and I had to drink hot tea. That was my maximum… Can you believe how high I climbed? By myself!

All around, as far as I could see, were peaks of mountains. One higher than the other. Glaciers, moraines, lakes, white sky… A completely different world. Alien to man. And very soon I will leave it to return to civilization.

I never waited for the sunrise. It was just excruciatingly cold. And I couldn’t get the 20 km of route out of my mind. My husband and I slowly made our way down. There was a long, long descent ahead of us and the road home. But I guess I’ll put a period on this very moment. The moment I realized that I could do anything I wanted. That I’m much stronger than I thought I was two weeks ago. Than I had thought all my life…

So that was the end of my Himalayan story. But I’m sure there’s more to come. Because we are thoroughly addicted to the mountain drug. 🙂

At times I wondered if I regretted that we went with someone. That we could have gone on our own and saved a lot of money. But no… I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made it to the end if I hadn’t had help. My husband and I wouldn’t have woken up at 4-6 in the morning to meet the sunrises during the climbs. We would be the last ones to wake up, and every day we would photograph the clouds instead of the mountains. When we got sick, we would probably give up. When the mountain sickness and hardship started, we would consider going down. Finally, I don’t want to think about the dangerous parts of the route where I might have maimed myself.

We didn’t worry about shelters, pass permits, tickets, porters, etc. We just walked. It wasn’t easy back then either. We were sure that if anything happened, Sasha would take care of us. He always had an answer for all our questions and worries. That was the tremendous support we needed. We were under the most reliable protection.

It turned out that we were hiking with three Kuluar employees at once. 🙂 And they all turned out to be terrific guys. They were supportive when things were tough. Made us laugh. Motivated us. Sang songs in the evenings. Told stories. And in Kathmandu we met the organizer of the company. Charismatic Taras with a broad smile, who was head over heels in love with the mountains. By the way, Taras is planning to climb Everest in 2018. That would be with him… But that’s for another time, too.

Everything is still to come! The whole world is still ahead of us. After all, now it’s interesting to visit its highest points. Thanks you, guys, for opening it for us! 🙂

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