Cool (EN)

English, Nepal

‘My’ altitude is around 4,000 meters. And everything above.*
Where you have passed the tree line. Where the landscape is rough, bare and overwhelming.
Where you bump into a lost yak or into a mosquito which is not only in search of blood but also of oxygen.
Where rain is transformed into snow. And glaciers under your feet are the dirt roads of the lowlands.
Where your heart beats faster, not only by seeing all that beauty but by the lack of oxygen in the air.

Nepal, the land of the giants of the Earth with Mount Everest as lord and master. Its 8,848 meters makes its foot-soldiers disappear into nothing. Those little ones, there in the South, where rhinos live instead of yaks and where tigers reside instead of snow leopards. Those ones, I had left behind to go to the land of the giants and to look up to the kings and the queens and to the one and only emperor named Everest. Established values that I wanted to see, feel, inhale; briefly, that I wanted to be surrounded with. I was ready to go to the country with that magical name H I M A L A Y A.

For 18 days, I exchanged my bicycle for a backpack. A backpack full of enthusiasm, thick mittens and woollen panties. A walk to Everest base camp (5,364 m) was a dream of years. Last minute I added three mountain passes and a summit: Kongma La pass (5,535 m), Cho La pass (5,420 m), Gokyo Ri pass (4,766 m) and Kala Pattar (5,550 m).

There it was, a never seen beauty, a string of wild and untouched natural force. Easy on the eyes, a challenge for the heart.
Heart and fitness were good, only the guide did not fit very well in that picture. He was the stain on that beautiful painting, the thorn in the flesh. I tried rose-coloured glasses but his sometimes very painful remarks or quirky behaviour clouded my field of vision.

21 NP_171228_TRIENTRAPT_0994_WP21 NP_171225_TRIENTRAPT_0786_WP21 NP_171230_TRIENTRAPT_1133_WP

Luckily I bumped into the British Aimée, an energetic, cheerful girl who led my thoughts from a cold, moody guide to the warmth of a smile or spontaneously given hug. Some days we walked together, most of them we did not.

21 NP_180101_TRIENTRAPT_1314_WP21 NP_180101_TRIENTRAPT_1321_WP21 NP_180103_TRIENTRAPT_1323_2_WP

A headache that had never been felt before arose. Hammers became master of my head and with their violence beat a pause in the trekking. The pain prevented me from turning my head or functioning normally. As an obedient pupil, I kept to my bed. Aimée and her guide continued their path.

After two days the carpenter inside me was working at a slower pace. I could resume the journey, one more pass to cross. I stepped slower than before and took more breaks. My footsteps creaked in the fresh snow, the pass came closer. It was cold. It was icy cold.  Without blushing a sharp wind changed the -19°C into a very chilly -29°C. I went to a high altitude one last time. The following days were, to the great joy of my head, under the banner of descent.

‘My’ altitude is around 4,000 meters. And everything above.
It is that height that attracts me with the power of a magnet.
It is that height that knocks my socks off and sizzles in my whole body.
It is that height that makes my blood run faster and proclaims that it’s just amazingly cool.

* ‘Everyone has ‘his’ height’ is inspired by the beautiful book ‘The eight mountains’ by Paolo Cognetti.

More photos and stories on Instagram. You do not need an account to see them.

Many thanks to Jan Schelstraete, who did some last minute editing.

10 thoughts on “Cool (EN)”

  1. Alberto Roldan says:

    Excellent words! Thank you for painting such a vivid picture of beauty, challenge and perseverance. I am glad chance delivered you a joyful companion to overcome the drag of such a miserable guide.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Heidi De Love says:

    wow! you know I am positively jealous!!! Congratulations on reaching summit camp etc… for me it will stay a dream… I think… who knows 😉 life is full of surprises… Be safe and hope to see you in Belgium this summer? You should definitely give a reading or lecture, or something where you share your amazing adventure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ik weet niet als ik daar zo goed voor zou zijn in die lezingen geven, maar zal erover denken 😉 Tijdens de zomer jammer genoeg nog niet in België… EBC is overrated, mocht je erheen gaan, kies dan zeker vr de three passes!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s