"I recently returned from a trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal"
Based on a sample of responses I've had to that statement in recent weeks, you might have thought one or more of the following:
- Wow, what a bucket-list tick off!
- Well done, what’s your next big trip?
- Didn’t you find Nepal amazing?
- You’re crazy; why would you want to do something like that?
Which is my summary of the top four reactions I've had when people hear my opening statement.
Everyone assumes that going to Everest Base Camp was a long held goal of mine. That’s a fair enough assumption, but that wasn’t in fact my motivation. I’m completely fine with the trekking/tramping in New Zealand and there are many experiences that I have yet to have here, so it wasn’t “on my list”. Actually I don’t really have a list. I went simply because one of my tramping buddies wanted to (it was on his list) and asked me if I would go with him. When he suggested it, my first thought was “hmm that seems hard, don’t know if I can do it but I’m willing to give it a go!” There were quite a few steps after that involving encouragement from others I care about, and quite a bit of preparation both physically and otherwise before we went, but the decision to go was made in a heartbeat.
Once that decision was made, there was never any other thought than that we would get there. We set the goal, learned what we needed to do to, made our preparations and went for it. There were plenty of problems along the way (for example my baggage didn’t arrive with me in Kathmandu), but we found solutions and didn’t let those problems become excuses for failure. We met plenty of other people who were less prepared but who toughed it out and got there, and we also met some that failed to get there, mostly because they lost heart and gave up.
Setting clear goals is hard enough, but what’s really important is the commitment. It’s always easier to think or say “it doesn’t really matter” it find some other excuse to compromise, but that path is the road to mediocrity at best.
Well done - What’s the Next Big Trip?
Part of me wants to respond with “I’m still processing the last one thanks!” but in fact I see this as a kind of compliment, and it’s also a reasonable question. Because not having another goal removes the striving, success is a double edged sword; we can become complacent and lazy as a result. Setting a new audacious goal soon after reaching the last one is a good idea.
Didn’t You Find Nepal Amazing?!
This one comes from the many people I have met who have also been to Nepal. My answer is I did find the landscapes amazing, I love mountains and, well they don’t get more impressive than the Himalayas. The Nepali culture is also impressive. I did find the people that I met to be amazing. Though there are many different ethnicities and cultures there is a wonderful balance of strength (e.g. Gurkhas) and gentle humility, as in the Sherpa tradition where guides ensure that all of their clients are fed and rested before taking their own meal. These are people who summit the worlds highest peaks for a living.
Even though it’s a third world country, there are plenty of ways in which developed nations could learn from Nepalis.
Why Would You Want to Do that?
It’s tempting to think that this says more about the person asking than it does about me, but that’s not fair either. I mostly take it as good-natured ribbing that is used as a cover for admiration and a little envy, so in my mind I translate the question into something like “that’s awesome, I wish I could do something like that!”
The only answer I can give to that is; you can do it if you decide that you want to.
And if the question is really why do it, then Ed Hillary’s answer is still the best:
“Because it’s there”