Trekking to Everest with Jamling Norgay
Story by Ryan Beckett
The Inspiration & Beginning
(Everest series 1 of 5)
In middle school, I became aware that our new addition to the family was the daughter of Tenzing Norgay.
Tenzing Norgay.. You can imagine my excitement when I got the call from Tenzing’s son; Jamling wanted to make the trek up Everest.
Note: TIME magazine named Tenzing one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. He was one of the first two people to summit Everest and was the Sherpa who helped Sir Edmund Hillary achieve the goal at the same time for the United Kingdom.
I started to study the hard working and gracious Sherpa culture while in high school. When the IMAX premiere of Everest came out I watched on with humility (reference video below) as Jamling Norgay, is one of the lead characters and narrators in the documentary.
One Thanksgiving, Jamling came to Florida. I couldn’t wait to pick his brain about doing a trip to Everest and he agreed to me help organize it. I soon learned that the only two available windows to go are October and May. These time slots are in between the monsoon season and winter.
An email popped into my inbox from Jamling Spring 2013 letting me know that he was organizing an Everest Base Camp trek in
October. As you can imagine, I emailed him back right away then proceeded to forward the message to all my friends that I thought might be interested. I received a lot of enthusiastic maybes but ended up locking in two friends to join me on the trek, Carlos Arruza and Michael Metz.
The final decision to embark on what became an unforgettable journey commenced Spring 2013; we would be wheels up by Fall 2013. Jamling sent all of us a pack list and collected our money to set up the hotels, tea houses, permits, etc. Shit just got real!
The Actual Trip Commencement
The letters that Jamling sent were a little intimidating. They explained what we needed to do to prepare. With a list in hand, I spent more money than I am willing to admit at Gander Mountain. We bought everything from boots, trekking pants, headlamps, socks, sleeping bags, etc.
I also did some basic training by walking in my new boots on a severe incline on the treadmill. Living in Florida there is not much in the way of natural elevation. That said, I knew living at sea level might be a disadvantage for acclimating. The highest I had ever been to that point was 13,500ft on a snowboarding trip. My doctor prescribed me a drug named Diamox that is supposed to help prevent altitude sickness. It is usually prescribed when someone plans to go above 10,000ft for an extended amount of time. I was later told that Viagra was invented from the use of vasodilators to prevent altitude sickness (locals said that fewer guys needed ice picks too lol).
Fast forward to October, Carlos, and I headed to the airport to embark on the journey via Qatar Airlines. We knew travel was going to be brutal as our itinerary had us flying from Miami west to Dallas then Dallas back east to Doha, Qatar and one more leg to Kathmandu. The airline was nice, and Carlos negotiated the bulkhead for us. Carlos likes to be comfortable, so he had the foresight to get us passes for the AMEX lounges which were clutch.
Carlos and I were only going to be in Doha, Qatar for a matter of hours but we made a concerted effort to get out of the airport and explore. We met a beautiful stewardess from our airline who was meeting up with her boyfriend whom she said they would love to show us around. In retrospect, it may not have been the smartest thing to do, but it ended up working out.
They took us all around Doha which was nothing as I expected. We stopped by a well-known restaurant with the traditional local fare. After dinner, a large hookah was brought to our table. I think I was a little over-eager as I almost passed out from it.
It was a little ironic to be in Qatar and headed to Nepal because these two countries have had an interesting relationship. As I mentioned earlier, my aunt is a Sherpa. I studied the Sherpa and Nepalese culture leading into the trip. The reason the relationship is tenuous at best is that Qatar has flying in Nepalese workers to assist in construction for the upcoming World Cup Soccer Tournament. The Qatar government has been under common criticism for the working conditions that these workers endure that many describe as close to slave labor. It was pretty wild to see them arriving in Qatar and lining up to fly out to Nepal.
As I recovered from my hookah daze, we made our way back to the airport and caught our flight into Kathmandu to commence the rest of the adventure!!
Jamling Norgay | Everest on IMAX