Thin air, but strong bonds, high in the Himalayas
Who: Bob Cox (the author) and his wife, Gosia Klosek, from Bethesda.
Where, when, why: We went to Nepal in mid-February for three weeks. Our main goal was to hike to Mount Everest’s base camp; in particular, the landmark Kala Patthar viewing point. We attempted to do this trek in 2014, but I caught bronchitis.
Highlights and high points: Just about everything we saw in the Himalayas was impressive. Some of the most memorable sights we experienced on our trip included the view of the mountain Ama Dablam from its base camp; a yak herder climbing up a 1,000-foot hill to have a 15-minute chat with our guide and then climbing back down to his yaks; the blue-white ice caves in the Khumbu glacier; and, of course, the view from Kala Patthar. Cultural connection or
disconnect: Conversations with our guide, Santa Bahadur Ghale, gave us some insight into Nepal and how the country has changed.
Biggest laugh: We were stuck in Patan, next door to Kathmandu, at the end of the trip after our Turkish Airlines jet skidded off the runway and caused the airport to close for four days. On the third day, we walked around many temples in Patan, lighting candles to all the gods to help free the plane. It worked! That night, we received news that flights would resume the next day.
Biggest cry: Six weeks after our return to the States, a major earthquake hit Nepal. Our guide’s grandmother and 9-year-old niece were killed after his house partially collapsed. We have since sent him money to help him rebuild. From e-mailing with him and others, we have heard that the trekking routes in the Everest region are again open. We would certainly go back.
How unexpected: I was most surpised by the friendliness of the Nepali people, who are very poor. Of course, people in the tourist business want you to spend your money, but beyond that, they are generally genuinely nice. At one lodge, a worker helped us repair some of our equipment that had broken. Then, when we were stuck in an unseasonal snowstorm, the same worker volunteered to take my pack for me as I was struggling through thigh-deep snow — without words, since he didn’t speak English.
Fondest memento or memory: We will never forget the wonderful feeling of making it to the top of Kala Patthar. At that altitude, the oxygen is less than half of what it is at sea level. Every step uphill we took two deep breaths, and these were not long steps. It was a pretty clear day, and we were the only people up there — normally there are crowds of trekkers snapping pictures of one another and of Everest. It was truly an event of a lifetime, something that stands out above the other many great trips we have taken. To tell us about your own trip, go to
www.washingtonpost.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fondest memories, finest moments and favorite photos.
A shot of Ama Dablam, a peak in the Himalaya range. Bob Cox and Gosia Klosek spent three weeks trekking in Nepal, where they found a sense of accomplishment with the after and were struck by the Nepali people’s hospitality.
Bob Cox and his wife, Gosia Klosek, at the top of Kala Patthar. Normally an area crowded with other phototakers, the landmark spot happened to be empty when the couple made it up — and it was theirs alone to enjoy.