Nepal 96: Whisky

The term “base camp trek” is one of the great tricks of Nepali marketing.

For me at least, when I hear the term “Everest Base Camp,” for example, I imagine a sprawling encampment of climber’s tents: guiding companies, porters, sherpa, and people intensely discussing the weather forecast and acclimatization techniques.

Which is, of course, what goes on at Everest Base Camp.

But the Everest Base Camp trek doesn’t actually go to that spot. It stops a little bit short, at the last trekking lodges. To go further, to the actual base camp, one needs to be an actual climber.

The same is true at Annapurna. Our Base Camp trek ended short of the actual glacier — before anything got serious.

[I’m going back to posting these entries three times a week, in hopes of finishing this series sooner rather than later. Got some exciting things coming up in the near future, and I want to be able to dedicate the blog entirely to those!]

I wouldn’t have wanted to go any further that night anyways. It was cold enough in the lodge. As the afternoon wilted away, we each added more and more layers. We went from t-shirts and shorts to long sleeves to jackets, to hats and gloves under heavy woolen blankets provided by the lodge. Even then, it was still cold.

I bought a bottle of whisky for a princely sum, and we shared it around the table, dolloping it in our teas. It helped a little bit.

Everyone was a bit tired and ill-feeling — from the trek or from the altitude, or both — so I had some trouble finding drinking partners. I ended up putting down the better part of the small bottle myself, which I certainly didn’t mind. I felt warm, and it had cost a lot.

There was no party here, at the top of the trek.

“Wait till Jihnudanda,” Ankit the young porter said. “At the hot springs, we will dance!”

The prospect of a party sounded nice; but far off. Jihnudanda was two nights hence — it would be our final night together on the trek. The end of our temporary little family.

I sipped at my whisky,

In two days I would be back in Pokhara, where I would have to interview for a job in Austria. Then, assuming it went well, as job interviews usually did for me — I’d have to face some huge choices.

The mountains were seeming less like a place to come for answers, than a temporary escape that was quickly ending.

Even sharing a blanket with the diplomat’s daughter, I felt cold.

I sipped my whisky.

There was higher to go here, but we were going back.

I sipped my whisky, silently.




5 thoughts on “Nepal 96: Whisky

  1. Hi Daniel, I would actually like to correct you on this post. If you do an Everest Base Camp trek yes you stay at Gorak Shep but trekkers have the option of trekking a further 5 kms or whatever it is to the Everest Base Camp area. You don’t have to be a mountaineer to walk there have a look around and return to your lodge at Gorak Shep or trek out again. I walked there and I can assure you I am not a mountaineer. Louise

    • Cool thx. I was under the impression you needed to be a permit holder to enter the climbers camp.

      Another tick to add to the long list of revisions after this sucker is done.

      • That might be the case. Frankly the area where the tents are you would have to pay me to walk around, Its very slippery. It’s quite a large area. There is the area where they have flags and rocks and a sign where people pose for a photo, saying it EBC and the altitude, the tents are pitched further in. It probably varies from year to year. It generally is not a good area to wandering around by yourself or get too adventurous unless you are climbing the mountain!

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