At almost 20,000 ft., my food supplies were limited to 1, maybe 2 energy bars, I was dehydrated with no water left, and I knew for certain I was hit by a severe case of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). I collapsed with exhaustion, completely sapped, and closed my eyes, perhaps with a sense of morbid finality.
Several years later…
It was an unnaturally cold evening. At the camp site, the mood was convivial. 20 trekkers were huddled inside a tent, savouring the warm dinner. The team had summited a 15,000 ft. peak after a gruelling day—enduring several whiteouts, showers of hailstones and navigated treacherous terrain for 16 long hours. Although spirits were high, tired bodies and aching joints soon retired back to the tents. Soon, there were only a couple brave souls talking into the night. Somehow, nights such as these have a way of throwing up stories, interesting ones.
That night didn’t disappoint either. As the cold mountain air blew through the campsite, eerily at times, the discussion naturally flowed back towards the events of the day. Recalling the whiteout, the guide reminisced about his own experience, a near fatal one on the mountains. Thus was narrated a story of daredevilry and foolishness in equal measure – a cautionary tale for the nonchalant trekker.
“I was barely 19-20 when I decided education wasn’t for me. I abandoned my studies and set out to travel, bent on exploring the world on my own terms. Travelling on a meagre budget, my living was austere. To supplement my income, I took up locals jobs, including sometimes acting as a trek guide. That when the trekking bug bit me, I reckon.”