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Title image - BAI takes you to: Everest Basecamp
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Leo Power Everest Marathon Dispatch

May 23, 2011 – Pheriche, Nepal, 4270m/14,032ft

The beautiful view from the ridge above Pheriche

The beautiful view from the ridge above Pheriche

The Himalayan Rescue Association has reduced operations given this is the end of the peak season, so I missed the opportunity for the daily briefing on altitude sickness.

The most popular time to trek in Nepal is October to May and the busiest period is October/November, which is the post-monsoon season. After the end of May, the summer weather and associated humidity coupled with the monsoon season makes trekking a considerably more arduous affair.

I just met Phil and Lynne at my Himalayan Lodge; they are originally from Scotland and now living in Dubai, and they delivered the wonderful news that they met a bunch of Canadians along the route who are also participating in the Everest Marathon, so I hope to meet up with the group in the next day or two. One of the Canadians is Tami Ellis from Medicine Hat, Alberta and she has a blog about the Everest Marathon at Phil runs a trekking expedition company based out of Dubai and Lynne works for a law firm.

This simple facility is an invaluable resource for trekkers, climbers and locals alike.

This simple facility is an invaluable resource

for trekkers, climbers and locals alike.

Following breakfast, Nuru and I trekked to the top of a ridge which separates the villages of Pheriche and Dingboche. It took a couple of hours for the return trek but a pleasant diversion from the boredom of sitting and reading in the Lodge. We could see to the east the summits of Island Peak (6189m) which Nuru has climbed a few times and it’s a challenging 2-3 day ascent using ice axes and crampons, Peak 38 (7591m) and Lhotse (8501m). Dingboche is also 130m higher than Pheriche which was helpful because as they say in the world of high altitude, “climb high, sleep low” to help with acclimatization.

As we descended from the Lodge I made a faux pas and kicked aside a rock on the trail only to watch it fly down the ridge, fortunately it came to a stop without any damage to people or property!

Adjacent to my Lodge is The Everest Memorial which lists the names of all those killed while attempting to summit the Big E. The first listed are the names of seven Sherpas who died on June 7, 1922 while part of a British Expedition which included George Leigh Mallory. Before travelling to Nepal I read Jeffrey Archer’s recent book titled “Paths of Adventure” which was about Mallory’s failed attempt to reach the summit and there was an excellent passage about how the seven Sherpas died in an avalanche and how Mallory was obviously quite affected by witnessing their deaths. Just two years later Mallory and Andrew Irvine met a similar fate on June 8, 1924. I highly recommend Archer’s book.

The Everest Memorial lists the names of three Canadians who perished in the quest to summit:

  • Blair Griffiths, September 2, 1982 (Canadian Expedition)
  • Roger Marshall, May 21, 1987 (Solo Attempt)
  • Sean Egan, April 28, 2005 (Independent)

The Memorial is current up to May 26, 2010 when Brit Peter Kinloch met his demise and so far this year three people have died, including an 82 year old Nepalese man who died while trying to set the record as the oldest person to summit, so the total now stands at 221 people.

I’ve had plenty of time for introspection. I’ve been reflecting on my love of travel, meeting new friends from different cultures and my latest dream of wanting to complete a marathon on all seven continents. The Everest Marathon will be my fourth continent and in 2012 I hope to complete a marathon in South America, in 2013 Australia and I’ll leave Antarctica until 2014! Yes Antarctica does host marathons- I plan to take a Russian research ship from the southern tip of Chile, steam down through the Southern Ocean, through the Drake Passage and we’ll disembark at King George Island, run the marathon amidst the international research bases and then embark for the return steam, a trip that will take close to three weeks. If I complete a marathon on seven continents I will then qualify for membership in an obscure club called the “Seven Continents Club”! It currently has in excess of 300 members, not sure what membership entails but it sounds interesting!

Leo recently took his love for travel to the top of Kilimanjaro with the Keg Spirit Foundation and Berg Adventures.

Leo recently took his love for travel to the top of Kilimanjaro

with the Keg Spirit Foundation and Berg Adventures.

My earliest recollections of adventurous travel was the many times when my mom and dad would take the family, no small feat given I have six siblings: Garry, Valerie, Jackie, Tony, Lori Ann and Cory, in one vehicle from our hometown of Grand Falls-Windsor in Central NL to my Mom’s hometown of Fleur de Lys, White Bay on the northeast coast of NL. In the early years there was a dirt road for the final part of the journey so that made for one interesting trip. My siblings and I always loved those vacations and Fleur de Lys was an entirely different world from our hometown, a fishing community plus many worked at the asbestos mine in Baie Verte. It was always a joy to spend time with our relatives and many friends. People were interesting, hard working, self reliant, happy, entertaining, especially with music, songs, jokes and lively wit and always so welcoming to us. Even to this day we love to visit Fleur de Lys, our second home for so many happy years.

In my youth I was also inspired by my grandmother Shea’s love of news from around the world and her own travels, limited as they were, to England and BC, and my grandfather Power’s time spent in Scotland in the NL Forestry Unit during the Second World War and my grandfather Shea’s time spent with the Merchant Marine and travelling parts of coastal NL during the Second World War.

So the more time I’ve spent in Nepal and specifically among the Sherpa people in the high mountains the more I think of the similarities between this region and the rural NL I remember from my youth including:

  • Both areas involve people scratching out survival in some of the most inhospitable climates in the world- my ancestors who first settled on the coast of rural NL were one hardy people and the Sherpas of Nepal are incredibly hardy
  • Self-reliant, industrious, tough, “help- thy- neighbour” people
  • The response of locals to visitors- shyness, genuine curiousity, coupled with incredible hospitality
  • Not always in a rush, for various reasons, to embrace the modern; I always loved watching movies on a battered old screen with a battered movie projector in a building locals in Fleur de Lys called the “Parlour”—my experience in Namche watching a movie in a bar so reminded me of viewing movies and attending social gatherings at the “Parlour”
  • Isolated, remote locations
  • Youth moving away for other opportunities
  • Largely living from nature’s bounty from the sea and land

Around 1979 my mom and dad decided to sell the family home and move the entire family to Port Hardy on the northeast tip of Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia. It was a wonderful time for our entire family and we’ll be eternally grateful to have parents who recognized the importance of exposing their children to travel and an exciting world beyond NL. Our family prospered in BC and we grew to love the diversity and wonder of another part of Canada, the greatest country in the world. My favourite sister Valerie, after a stint working abroad, returned to Port Hardy and in August, 2009 married the love of her life and the perfect husband, Dayne Roland! They just completed building a new home in Port Hardy.

Mom and dad and family eventually moved back to NL and to this day I say thank you mom and dad.

My other two favourite sisters, Jackie and Lori Ann, are currently in Port Hardy visiting with Valerie and Dayne and I know they are all having a wonderful time, a “grand old time” as we say in NL.


– Leo Power