I have been thinking about the Mera Peak climb for the past two or three days. It was certainly an incredible trip with an amazing group of people. Without having Sharon beside me, I was a little concerned as she is such an important part of what we do. Our group however, were all experienced visitors to Nepal and gelled instantly, forming a strong bond early. Everyone took care of one another, there were no egos, just support and friendship. We laughed uncontrollably most nights, possibly due to the altitude, about the weirdest things including strange animals seen on the trek and bazaar dreams. We moved well as a team and were organised, with everyone quickly falling into their rhythm. Though there were different speeds amongst the group, almost everyone had their own personal climbing Sherpa, apart from Jeff who scored climbing with me.
Our boys were exemplary again, and I am proud to say they are some of the best in the business. Angelu Sherpa, as Sirdar kept our climbing Sherpas, porters and cooks organised and happy, whilst Phemba Sherpa and Dawa Sherpa took great personal care of the team. These guys are extraordinary, and have a warmth and desire to take care of people likely you rarely see. My role, apart from planning each day and guiding, was to make sure everyone was well, treating any ailments or illness along the way. As seasoned adventurers, the group made this job pretty straightforward, for which I am very grateful.
We carefully planned the summit bid to maximise success, which worked well, with everyone reaching the top. I have to say that the views were some of the best I have seen, looking out on 5 of the 6 highest mountains in the world, including Kangchenjunga which is located in Eastern Nepal and India. Unlike last year, there was very little wind, and we got to spend almost 30 minutes on the summit alone.
Having individual start times is not easy, but everyone agreed that this was the best approach to being triumphant, primarily by taking the pressure off having to climb at a pace they are not used to or comfortable with. As it turned out, this strategy allowed us to all meet up almost at the same time close to the summit.
Personally, Mark and Karen were joining Everest One for the 3rd time, with this being their second attempt at Mera. These two guys are an absolute joy to work with along with being an inspirational team, always keeping each other strong and toughing out some pretty testing conditions. Seeing them on top was a huge accomplishment, and I am immensely proud to have been a part of their dream to stand on top of a Himalayan mountain.
Jeff was a powerhouse, having already climbed some big mountains around the world. He has the ability to keep going, and I have no doubt he will achieve some massive climbs in the future. Not to mention, Jeff was an absolute delight on the trip, always laughing and keeping the group entertained, especially me. He has a presence that is so engaging and a whole lot of fun to be around.
Sue is a special lady, remarkably strong and determined, and everyone really enjoyed her company. Nothing was an issue, she was organised, committed and relaxed. Sue has one of the best attitudes I have seen in the mountains and really loves being in this environment, whilst her training regime coming into the climb was top shelf. All the hard work definitely paid off with the reward of a summit.
We met some great groups along the trail, and I have made some strong connections with a few highly skilled guides, both from South America and Europe who are keen to work together in the future. The one thing you can be assured of in the mountains is that bonds can form very quickly, with likeminded beliefs and accomplishments featuring in the conversation.
I must say that Nepal has some work ahead, with many people still staying away. The locals are hurting, and many of the business owners and teahouse operators are scared for the future. As it stands now, a lot of people visiting Nepal have been before. Speaking to visitors, there is a real deep sense of loyalty to the Nepalese people, and we all felt safe. Next year is the time when things need to change, and I can honestly say that if you decide to come back or visit for the first time, you will not be disappointed. There is an incredible warmth in the country, both in the mountains and the city, and people will welcome you with open arms.
Finally I just want to thank our tremendous Sherpa team, strong porters, and cook team lead by Master Chef Anil, for what was a very successful and professionally run trip. We have focussed for a long time now on providing an impeccable service, which most of our guests will attest to. We concentrate on the little things, which can often make the difference when you are away for some time. We make sure the food is hygienic, varied and nutritious, our equipment is constantly upgraded to ensure guests are comfortable, our staff our highly qualified, having trained with the best climbers in Nepal, and we practice safe and ethical procedures in the mountains.
We do not comprimise on quality, and ensure that our Sherpas and Porters are paid a higher than standard rate. These guys are the workhorses in the mountains, and without them none of this would be possible. Companies that offer unbelievable rates can only do so by lowering their standards, which mean paying their staff low wages. I am proud of our style and the manner in which we run our trips. Once you join us, you are helped each step of the way.
I think a true testament to the quality we provide can be seen in the continued return of our team year after year.
Next year we have some exciting new trips including Cho Oyu and Kilimanjaro. Cho Oyu is filling fast and Sharon is doing a great job sorting out Kili. Visit the website at www.everestone.com.au to find out more details on these and other adventures that may tempt you.
Chat soon and a huge cheers