For thousands of years the Himalayas have held a profound significance for the people of South Asia. Their literature, religions and mythologies reflect the overall lure of the world’s largest mountain range. It stretches 1500 miles from east to west, and passes through five nations: Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet (Tibet has been under Chinese sovereignty, since the Chinese invaded the country in 1950).
The world Himalaya is Sanskrit for “abode of snow’, quite fitting for an expanse of land that houses more non-polar ice masses than anywhere else on the planet.
Referred to as the roof of the world, the Himalayas have long been shrouded with lore, legends and myths - well before Sir Edmund Hillary first climbed Mount Everest in 1953.
It was early 2013 and my cousin Fabienne, who lives in France, invited me to join her on a trekking trip in Nepal at the beginning of the climbing season in October.
Much of my knowledge about Nepal revolved around campfire tales of the hippie and drug culture of the 60’s and 70’s. Besides, I always thought that climbing high mountains was for those rare individuals who combined a fearless blend of athleticism, exceptional lung capacity, and a total disregard for the hazards associated with alpinism: frostbite, avalanches, altitude sickness and cerebral and pulmonary edemas just to name a few.
The rest of us remained high peaks conquerors in the realms of our imagination, opting for gentle walks in valleys covered with wildflowers, and gazing with envy at snow covered peaks - looming like impregnable fortresses in the backdrop.
“Life is way too short to deprive oneself of those rare forays into the extraordinary”, said the little voice in my head without missing a beat. After all, aren’t we all hedonists at heart? Men/women devoted to the pursuit of pleasures...
The mighty Himalayas were all of a sudden looming like sand castles on a sun-soaked beach and the sea was at its most serene. It was time to set sail.