Beefy, stout, portly, porky — however you describe us large men, you don’t see our clothing sizes in Thamel for a reason. Most abdominous fellows don’t trek or, if they do, they walk up to Poon Hill to later claim Machupachare’s summit.
Sinewy characters, my two counterparts are concerned. I am too. I entertain the prospect of turning back –thoughts equally shameful and scary. I steel myself for the awaiting climes, a dose of sweets jammed down my throat (a lifetime first)and I slope uphill behind them. I have no understanding of my surroundings, or even the colour of the sky, I keep focus on my heavy feet. And we make it to my counterparts’ relief. My frame has made it up this hill, and I hope it’s gaining momentum.
The next day we surge ahead, buoyed by a rapid rise to Low Camp, and reach High Camp. My slow approach to the hills seem to keep us going, and see me named ‘The Yak’ and ‘Despacito’ (Spanish for slowly). My head lifts as we slowly mount the hill, and I start to absorb my surrounds.
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The third day was as hard as the first, squashing any sense of cockiness I might have gained the day before. Trekking at 4.30AM to catch the sunrise, still digesting last night’s dalbhat, I get used to the hurt. The elevation does nothing to me, but the trail does. All I feel is exhaustion, but the views from 4,250m are worth it. The final step onto the prayer flag adorned platform is my Neil Armstrong moment, without a giant leap for mankind– just tears. Weeping at such height is an interesting experience. A combination of hyperventilation, exhaustion and elation, it’s hard to describe.
The mountains stare down at us, like deities, but it’s hard to believe they’re real. Seemingly projected onto the horizon, I wonder how people explained such things before cameras. One thousand words would not explain their grandeur.