I’m safely back from beyond Everest Base Camp. All senses are heightened at an altitude exceeding 5500 metres so maybe I’ll come to mine and never go camping again; as it seems I forgot that my idea of sleeping under the stars-is the 5 stars! The things one does for new material and a few fab photos-but there was no other accommodation to view this amazing landscape.
At least my backpack became lighter along the way, as we gifted copies of ‘Hot Lemon & Honey’-which Sir Edmund Hillary endorsed-at some of the schools he built. Proceeds from every sale continue to go towards furthering his good works via his Himalayan Trust.
He could never have imagined that the wonderful & ever cheerful Sherpas now had mobile phone reception all the way to the top. Personally, I left mine in Australia as the only ‘connection’ I craved was the raw energy of nature, with time to think.
We seldom have that luxury in our busyness of bus-i-ness. Even if one never wishes to leave the comfort of their own home, we all face metaphorical mountains in everyday life-which sometimes seems more like never-rest than Everest!
Serious mountain climbers (of which I’m not one) constantly push their bodies to the brink; but every body has a limit on or off Everest. If we never rest, we become rundown, sick and then need total-rest. It’s much better to get the balance right and take-a-rest occasionally. After all, you can’t take care of your customers or families, if you don’ take care of yourself.
We should always listen to our bodies. Mine seemed to scream at me one cold night in the tent after the longest day, which seemed like 12 hours on a stair master amidst low cloud and howling wind. ‘What on earth are you doing this for?’ What were you thinking? Indeed, had I been thinking at all?
It was somewhat sobering to reflect that 29 yeas earlier, I’d fractured a vertebrae and was told I’d never play sport again; that 11 years ago I had a level 4 malignant melanoma; the most deadly form of skin cancer…and now feeling as fit as I had in 30 years, was voluntarily subjecting my body to discomfort. Whatever for?
By far the oldest in our diverse but cohesive group, I’d already surpassed the average life expectancy of women in Nepal-so maybe I undertake these occasional adventures to remind myself not to take so much for granted at home-like clean water, ample food, electricity, a comfy bed, medical supplies-and of course, a flushing toilet!
The spectacular scenery simply took my breath away-literally & figuratively-or was it the altitude that did so? We gasped for air amidst the grandeur of giant rocks and magnificent mountains that would dwarf even the highest of city skyscrapers. What good could come of 17 days in a tent without a shower? What lessons might be shared when I returned from near the top of the world? Here’s a few insights:
-Never make mountains out of molehills in everyday life!
-At the pre-trek briefing in Kathmandu, one young woman arrived in stilettos; and set off the next morning in brand new hiking boots. It was predicted that she’d never make it but was delightful and determined to succeed-which she did. This goes to prove that we should never judge others until we’ve walked a mile (or many!) in their shoes-whatever sort they may be.
-You don’t need to climb a mountain to reach your ‘summit of success’-however defined in your own heart.
-When ‘nature calls’ and you’re tucked up in a warm sleeping bag, don’t delay. Yes, it’s cold outside the tent-damn cold-but you know it’s only going to get worse so get up, get out and get it over with. So too at home-with those tough jobs and annoyances that aren’t going to go away! Do them now.
-Reach any goal-one step at a time.
-Sometimes life weighs us down and it seems like there’s one too many bricks in our back pack. The sensational Sherpas helped lighten our load. Friends at home can do likewise if we swallow some pride & realise that we don’t always need to carry, what seems like the weight of the world, on our own shoulders.
-We would not have reached our goal without the Sherpas. They were the backbone of the team; the unsung heroes. Who are the equivalent in your family/team/organisation-who shoulder their responsibilities quietly and reliably everyday without complaint? Thank them now without delay.
-One day, we had already walked many hours further than we thought necessary to reach base camp and still, there was no sight of it. Despondent, we reluctantly turned back in order to reach our own campsite before darkness fell. About 45 minutes later, our guide (who had already accompanied an ailing trekker back to our camp) re-appeared to tell us that we had actually gone beyond base camp. ‘How could you miss Everest?’ friends teased (as I am admittedly directionally challenged!) Low cloud & poor visibility hid the actual mountain and we later discovered that someone had stolen the sign as a souvenir. Once we realized that we had not only reached our goal for the day-but surpassed it-our spirits rose as we trudged back to our tents.
The next day, under a crystal-clear sky, we climbed to an even higher altitude. This should have been considerably harder than the day before because of thinner air but although still exhausting, it seemed easier because the top was always in full view.
It is important to have a clear goal for your organisation-highly visible and to communicate it to everyone on the team.
-No goal is too high if approached with planning, preparation, care, confidence-and most of all-the determination to continue.
-As printed on my business cards for years: ‘Everyday above the ground is a good one’-but maybe not quite so high above that ground.
I hope this finds you on top of your world and may you have many peak experiences.
A video & some photos with insights are on: www.youtube.com/watch