by Ben Clark
The world is full of intrepid explorers. Each day, each village we meet travelers from all over, they are on their way from one adventure to another. That is what makes expeditions to the Nepali Himalayas so inviting. It is a melting pot of culture and mountain inspired endeavors.
Some trek, some climb, there are all ages and abilities… We are the only ones with skis. It’s funny how a resounding sigh of agreement and perhaps a bit of hindsight washes over each persons sun affected face who we share this fact with. Hidden in the creases of age we all identify with having fun.
We were once alpinists tired of fighting our way downhill and being overwhelmed by storms sieging the steep slopes and faces we had already climbed. Now, we work with the elements — it is silly to constantly challenge what you can’t control. This expedition, to climb and ski 23,390′ Baruntse is especially satisfying with that philosophy in mind.
My partner, Jon Miller, and I come prepared for an adventure high in the Himalayas with just the right amount of equipment and skill to experience the heights of this rarefied region. The route we will explore combines a long distance to approach — ice climbing at 22,000′ — traversing a knife-edge ridge and then popping on skis to schuss our way into brilliant smiles on the descent. It will be hard for us, but we will enjoy the process. We are returning to finish a goal that we shared in 2009 with our partner Josh Butson who could not join us this year.
But I mustn’t get ahead of myself. It is still one day at a time, one foot in front of the other, as we carry ourselves up and down the mountainsides that lead us to basecamp in five more days. It is so easy to get distracted knowing what lies ahead. But missing the here and now would be blasphemous to travel. We’re in a cool country.
Currently we reside in a corner of the tiny world of Maoist culture called Khote — a moss draped village in the shadows of Mera peak three days from where we started in Lukla. The town is welcoming and although we watched a yak get totally stripped to the ribs in the middle of the street, there is no reason for concern. It’s Nepal, that is routine.
Tomorrow we will log another day of winding through lush valleys until surfacing in the alpine zones again finding ourselves with mouths agape at peaks so large well… You’ll just have to view the video podcasts to get a sense. Expedition videographer Chris Dalton and I are capturing as much of the experience as we can. The weather has been dynamic and although most might associate the destination with the summit, it is all aspects of the mountain we are here to soak in. And soak it in we are. Mists drove us up river yesterday weaving through forests not unlike the paintings of Eyvind Earle, if you aren’t familiar with his work google him and invite your imagination to join us… Just forget about that yak carcus!
Live the dream,
For video and more visit www.skithehimalayas.com