Travel & Everest at Age 50? Why Not?

Recently I immediately saw a photo of Mount Everest on the wall behind the bar at the Dutton-Goldfield Winery in Sebastopol, California. It was a photo of Mount Everest from Kala Pattar! So many of us climb this 18,519 foot peak to see a spectacular view of Mount Everest and the nearby peaks. I love travel and the chance to share experiences with others who have been to a same place! I wanted to know more.

Who traveled to Nepal and took the Everest photo hanging behind the bar? Thankfully the man setting up our wine tasting knew. After finishing a business meeting at a nearby table, Dan Goldfield was introduced to me! (He’s the Goldfield in Dutton-Goldfield Winery!) Both of us, many years ago and at different times, turned 50 years old and trekked to Mount Everest’s base camp. On his trek he continued to a neighboring valley. When I turned 50 years old, I trekked to Mount Everest’s base camp, thanks to the support of my employer allowing me time in Nepal during the school calendar.

Was it easy to train and complete the trek?

Train for the trek: carry a fully – loaded backpack, climb up and down garage parking lot stairwells – often smell horrible – and icy northeast USA roads, plus time on hiking trails in Arizona and the Grand Canyon (my favorite place now that I moved to southwest USA) to determine best hiking boots! Many times I wished I was 20 years old because the months of training were hard work! In retrospect, I am thrilled to have accomplished what I did! Out on the trail, “climb the mountain” was my mantra. Burning through hundreds of calories, sleeping on the ground, hiking for hours at continued increasing elevation – hike high, sleep low – and enjoying the company of fellow trekkers and locals where we enjoyed delicious food all added to the experience! Of course, arriving at Kala Pattar and Everest Base Camp were the ultimate goals and then downhill to safely arrive home!

Yes, life is good with travel!

After the trek, I made presentations for my students and staff at my school, my community and at a local Eastern Mountain Sports – provider of my reasonably priced outdoor gear – some I eventually donated to our trekking porters. I cannot speak for Dan; however, if I was able to travel to Nepal to climb mountains when I was younger, I would have. From my point of view, when reaching 50 years of age it is time to travel and climb mountains or it will never happen. I love mountains! Thankfully my school’s faculty, board of education, student body and community allowed me the opportunity to trek in Nepal. Writing this post brought back wonderful memories!

Kathmandu – city time
The monkeys were everywhere!
On our way as we enter the park.
Loved the food.
Bridges – not for the weak of heart! I loved their sway!
On top to see Everest still in the distance.
What a sight …Mount Everest!
Avalanche while we were there at base camp.
I could not step on the Khumbu Icefall as Chinese liaison stop you. Look closely, in center of photo, of people crossing a crevasse. The icefall is huge.
I visited a local school as I do on all my travels. Eventually we send additional supplies to the school.
I love seeing children be educated!
Our group leap-frogged up the trail with Erik’s group. He is with his brother and father who I meet. Years later his father is involved with a Tibetan project I had; small world!
Wally – wonderful person and guide. I follow him to my next big mountain the next year!
I admired Rob Hall and was saddened by his death so left prayer flags at his memorial.

A few decades later, I am so glad I kept these photos! While having great memories is wonderful, especially since I am still of an age with a good memory, it is fun to see the good times and other people in the photos. Don’t wait till you are 50 years of age if you can make some of your dreams happen now! There’s a big world out there with many fantastic adventures to be had, so enjoy!

A Memorable Hour …Kili or Bust!

6:45AM, July 14, 2002. An hour of my life I will never forget.

I am on the side of Mount Kilimanjaro, trekking, with a goal to reach its summit by sunrise. The trail is all crushed stone. I am no geologist, but I tell myself it is shale from uplifting and colliding continents, or was it debris thrown from the volcano? Yes, that’s right… Mount Kilimanjaro is actually a stratovolcano with three distinct volcanic cones. Whatever, I tell myself, that is all just science. Right now, I am climbing the 19,341 foot African mountain! Who would have ever thought!

I am cold, somewhat confused, knowing only to put one step in front of another. I am meeting others on the team at the summit come sunrise. The summit: Uhuru Peak at sunrise. It almost becomes my new mantra. Uhuru Peak at sunrise. It joins my most often mantra of “climb the mountain”, used at times when not even climbing actual mountains.

The shale pieces on the trail are now warming up with the rising sun. As a result, each step forward, higher, and with great effort becomes a sliding back routine. The shale bits are not holding steadfast as during the night hours when literally frozen in place. Am I climbing up this mountain or moving backwards? I am hoping for more forward than back movement. I am tired and thinking I should be on top very soon.

I create a rhythm with my trekking poles. I dig into the shale bits and step higher and forward. I see I am moving forward because the sun has begun to rise. I am behind the rest of the team. It is no longer their headlamps that I see ahead of me, instead just their backs. Damn, they seem so far from me, yet we are all on the same mountain. I will get there when I get there. No time or place here to give up. Climb a mountain at your own pace; yes, I will.

It is now approximately 7:45AM and I arrive at Stellar Point. Many people think this is the high point, yet it is not… but this was the hour of the climb I will never forget. I continue to the peak…. an amazing moment when there!