4.01.2007

Really high mountains

It's funny how unintended consequences can play out. Earlier in this double zero decade I was on a professional roller coaster involving many quite unpleasant situations. This in turn led me to enroll, on the State of Vermont's dime, in a very short professional certificate program at Champlain College. My role in this was really very passive, I was not seeking to go back to an undergraduate environment at that particular point in time, but the opportunity presented itself, so off to school I went...


I wasn't working so I took two classes on campus in the daytime; I figured that there would be at least some adult students in the classes. This, however, proved not be the case at all, I was vastly older than my classmates, which made it a very peculiar -- but not negative, just strange -- experience. One of my classmates at Champlain was a guy named Ongyel Sherpa who was originally from Nepal but who had come to Burlington though the efforts of a local optometrist who was involved in voluntary eye care efforts in the Himalayan region.

Anyway Ongyel -- his family has a long history of involvement with trekking and mountaineering in Nepal -- asked me if I wanted to do some hiking so we snowshoed up Mt. Mansfield one February day. Then in 2006 we drove over to Conway NH and climbed Mt. Washington together on a great March day, it was warm and there was no wind, very unusual conditions for that mountain.

Earlier this year Ongyel emailed that he was organizing a three week trekking trip to Nepal in October 2007 and "did I have an interest in going?". After giving it a little thought I said "sure". I am usually pretty frugal and for a long time my idea of a vacation was a weekend jammed into a room at a Motel 6 at a bike race somewhere with other racers. But I turned 40 a couple of years ago and I figure that you can't take it with you: It's hardly now or never but I would like to do this sort of thing now while I am still willing to put up with a certain level of privation and discomfort.

I'm not sure if trekking -- it's not really mountaineering, and anyway I think that a lot of climbing these days is a sport for bored rich people (got a spare $100K? Go climb Everest...) -- is my ultimate vacation but I am looking forward to the trip. I hope I don't end up marching around Nepal with hordes of Eurotrash tourists for 2+ weeks but it will be a chance to live in a really dramatic landscape without all the trappings (hopefully) of American suburban living. It will be a chance for me to experience another culture (and the 'Third World'), see some really high mountains and take lots of pictures.

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