As the Coronavirus crisis was mounting in the US, we were in Southeastern Utah, near Moab, rock climbing the impressive desert towers that dot the area.
My climbing partner was a Swedish woman, Anna, a full-time climber who lived on the road. A “dirtbag”, we say in the climbing community. Without a permanent home, remote desert was about the most socially-distanced she could be.
I had a home; but amidst the mounting anxiety, I’ll admit: I wanted to escape. Lockdowns had not yet begun in the USA. But I read the news everyday. Italy closed. France closed. That omnipresent graph, always growing. It was coming.
Last month I took a short trip to Europe to see my buddy Shawn. After three years living in Budapest, Shawn’s finally moving on. But he wanted one last little European hurrah, so we planned a climbing trip.
But not to Spain or Italy or Greece or any of the other world-class Euro climbing destination. Nope. Shawn chose Bosnia.
When I travel internationally, I like to send postcards. I have quite a long list of contacts now, many in the USA, some abroad. Every person on my list means something to me; the postcards serve as a way to let them know that no matter where I was, what I was doing, they were on my mind.
There was a viral photo last week, showing what appeared to be hundreds of people waiting in line on the summit ridge of Mount Everest.
I won’t share that photo here, as I haven’t paid for it. A quick Google search will turn it up if you haven’t seen it yet.
The man that took that photo was Nirmal Purja, a.k.a. Nims. Nims is a Nepalese climber who served in the British Gurkhas, and has been awarded the Member of the British Empire by the Queen of England for his accomplishments in high altitude mountaineering.
You may have seen his picture. But you don’t know Nims’ name.