How do you keep on going?

How do you keep on going?

Day four in the Khumbu Valley, our first proper rest day.

The boys are all outside in the sun washing clothes and listening to music while I am huddled inside the teahouse typing away at my computer.

I will resist the urge to wax lyrical about the beauty of the area, if you want that kind of thing just google “Solo-Khumbu” and you will be treated with a million different blogs all trying to capture a unique perspective on this amazing region. Okay, maybe I will wax-on just a little for the sake of good order. Imagine the biggest, sexiest mountains in the world spilling down to fertile valleys holding small towns adorned in cheery Buddhist flags and a shroud of mist. Brown ribbons of trails run all over the place. On those trails are dotted myriad colourful trekkers staggering about with jaws open and a stunned expression on their faces – the sunned expressions are either due to lack of oxygen or wonderment at this big landscape. Here you will find every type of trekker imaginable: The chiseled man with shiny new trekking pants (with black knee and bum pads) smirking at you through his aviator sunnies, the larger retiree-types who slowly trek and chat amiably, the determined Chinese trekker covering every piece of exposed flesh in Hello-kitty scarfs, surly Swedish trekkers who never get out of the way and one homeless-looking guy with a filthy red rucksack, long oily hair and faded cotton clown pants brushing the mud, “Hi!”.

Just recently I asked the boys how they keep on going when they’re feeling tired, dirty, hypoxic and generally sick of it all.

Here is how you keep on pushing through pain barriers on extended high altitude treks:

1. Jokes – you have got to have a sense of humour. If you can laugh despite feeling tired, homesick and ready for a hug you are halfway there.

2. Music – James Brown, Metallica, Beyonce – it does not matter which genre you prefer. Music helps to block out the pathetic sound of your gasping and serves as a distraction from that fact that your knees are about to explode. I have a special motivational playlist for times of crises. It has songs dedicated to important people in my life. I like to think about these people as I trek, sometimes when really desperate, I imagine them cheering me on.

3. People watching – No matter how tired and ready for a break you may be feeling, other people serve as a distraction. What is that lady in the leopard-print tights and flouro pink crop top thinking? Does the bald guy realize that his entire forehead is about to peel off in one single burnt flap?

4. Mountains – Mountains help. At the risk of sounding like the tree-hugging, Gaia-loving hippy that I am, mountains have a certain aura about them, a presence or power which give weary trekkers a boost.

5. Snickers bars, coke, lollys, water – “I will have a small bite at the top of this ridge-line.”

6. Dummy-mode – This is Andrew’s secret weapon. Just switch off your brain, take in the scenery, switch on your legs and go. Step, step, step – dumb feels no pain!

7. Tag the sherpa – trying to keep up with a 4 foot nothing local who is carrying 100kgs of roof beams is fun, for a short while.

8. Guilt – nothing makes you dry your eyes more quickly than being passed by a 12 year old girl running up the hill on her way to school.

9. Motivational quotes/mantras:

“Pain is just weakness leaving your body” – Mal

“Pain is temporary” – Buddhist quote

“We are having fun, we are having fun?” – Me

That is about it for now guys. I now have to find a young priest and an old priest to help perform an exorcism on my trekking socks.

Next update from Ama Dablam Base camp. Things are about to get fun!

Blues skies and happy feet,


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