Submitted by MGL
At the age of 17 I climbed my first mountain, Mount Ophir, Johor Malaysia. Not a very high peak at all standing at 1276m above sea level. It was on this trek that my fascination with mountains began, and I told myself that one day I would go to Everest Base Camp. 1.5 years later at the age of 18 I would find myself alone in the sacred valleys of the Himalayas, freezing day after day with limited connection to the rest of the world, and emerge only to find myself caught in the middle of an earthquake that claimed thousands of lives.
Aspiring solo trekkers and adventure enthusiasts, heed my advice before embarking on your next adventure.
- Do your research
The last thing you want is to be unprepared for things you may face. Know what you are getting yourself into, especially with the dangers of the activity that you are taking part in. In my case it would have been the dangers of earthquakes, altitude sickness, and even the flight into Lukla, dubbed the most dangerous airport in the world. Most importantly, get yourself some good insurance, and always have a bailout plan when things go bad.
- Know your limits
When I embarked on my Great Himalayan Trek, I had set my sights on this peak known as Gokyo Ri which stands at 5357 m above sea level west of Everest. I had planned to get there in about 6 days. But on my fourth day I started getting really sick, my head felt like it was going to explode and I was coughing out solid pieces of phlegm. So at 4000m above sea level I threw in the towel and decided to turn back. I am pretty sure I would have made it up there if I really wanted to but returning would have been a real problem. As much as you want to keep going, it is important to know that your health should always come first, and you owe it to your friends and family to make it home safely. It is definitely not an easy decision to make, but it is a necessary one.
- On the other hand, do not let others tell you that you can’t do it
When I first made my intentions to trek in the Himalayas clear, many thought that I was a bit mad to be doing it at my age. I had people telling me that it was too dangerous and that I was dreaming too big. This trip was not meant to be a solo trip either, but people pulled out due to certain concerns pertaining to the trip. But hey, the youngest person to stand on Everest was 13 when he did it so what’s stopping us from chasing our own adventures?
Go as a pilgrim and seek out danger
far from the comfort
and the well lit avenues of life.
Pit your every soul against the unknown
and seek stimulation in the comfort of the brave.
Experience cold, hunger, heat and thirst
and survive to see
and another dawn.
Only then will you be at peace
and be able to know and to say;
“I look down the farthest side of the mountain,
fulfilled and understanding all,
and truly content that
I lived a full life and one
that was my own choice”
-James Elroy Flicker
- 4. Be okay with feeling lonely
Growing up I was rather independent and I did a lot of things without the help of others. Even then I got extremely lonely while up in the mountains. There was one day on the mountain where I just sat in my small little 3 by 3 meter room and did nothing because I had no one to talk to or entertain me. So be prepared for it, and make the full use of this opportunity to experience things on your own without the influence of a friend’s take on the same experience. Go out and meet new people. I would never have imagined that I would have a conversation in Mandarin with an American of Argentinian decent somewhere in the mountains of Nepal. Or share a meal with an Indian man from Australia in a post-apocalyptic Kathmandu on the day of the April 2015 earthquake.
- Stay open to new things and don’t forget to feel
“Walter Mitty: To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”
– James Thurber
We can experience many things and be open to all sorts of crazy ideas, but ultimately they are worthless without emotion. Use your five senses and beyond to experience things, but more importantly never forget the emotions that fill you up at that very moment, for it is emotions that give beauty to human life.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart”