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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Nepal Reflections

Nepal Reflections

Author: Guest Writer/Wednesday, January 30, 2019/Categories: natural history, photography, sustainability, art and design, environment, adventure , climate change

                                         Khumbu Chorten, Nepal 1-30-2019 (credit: Conrad Anker)

Mountaineer, environmental writer, and Journal contributor, Conrad Anker, offers some reflections from the Khumbu region of Nepal. Conrad is in Nepal investigating changes observed over a career of climbing, working, and studying the Khumbu's environment. Several images correspond to his personal reflections. The Editors 


We swipe, tap, and scroll through our social media. There is an immediate sense of connection and, perhaps, the fear of missing out. All your pals and the others you respect have an ever increasing level of stoke. In the 30 minutes I just spent (lost) here I witnessed skiing, climbing, and living that way myself makes. It makes me feel all of my 56 years as well. I’m as guilty as anyone, perhaps more so. I curate my public life to highlight the highs and obscure the low points. It’s an ever increasing loop that feeds on itself.
Alas the game of gravity plays for keeps. The risk of not returning is part of the allure. What would the sports we play be with out risk? Merely games?
The down side is our family and friends don’t always make it back. Gravity always has the upper hand. When it plays its card too soon we all loose.For those left behind the pain begins. Was it worth it? Could it have been avoided? If you escaped the vice of gravity along side your bestie, why not me? What do I do next?
ing loop that feeds on itself.

      Yaks, Phortse Nepal, 1-30-2019 (credit: Conrad Anker)                   Sonam Sherpa, Phortse Nepal (credit: Conrad Anker)

I’m not one for cemeteries but when I visit one in Big Oak Flat, California (Yosemite NP) I wander through the headstones of family long past, never known, yet still part of who I am. I refresh graves with a few flowers and move on. In the mountains these reminders are more poignant and powerful. The friends memorialized, struggled with the “why” vs “consequence” paradigm just as we do. While walking through Dugla, the terminal moraine of the Khumbu Glacier, a series of stone remembrances, chortens (shrines), are a stark reminder of how fleeting life is and how the pursuit of gravity has real consequences. Scott Fischer, Babu Sherpa, Alex Lowe, and Ueli Steck are memorialized by similar stacked stones. If you’re ambling about, they are a stark reminder that we carry our friends with us. How we carry them is up to us: internalize it, over-share it, laugh about it, ignore it or stew in anger, we go through all the points on the emotion wheel. It isn’t fun.

If you are serious about gravity's pull, it’s not “if” but “when”. When death strikes unexpectedly - be part of the community. Reach out to others and listen. The challenge of being a survivor could well be you. And if you’ve been there, lend your experience to others. We all can heal.

Conrad Anker


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