Next stop: Everest Base Camp Is it possible to get lost on purpose in the middle of one of the world‘s most famous trekking destinations?
Monday, 14th of May 2018. I am sitting in my tiny room of Bodhi Guest House in Kathmandu ready for the big adventure: Trekking up to EBC. Tomorrow, Eddy and I are going to get to the Khumbu Region in Nepal’s far Northeast to start our trek towards Mount Everest. We will trek a distance of 200 km and make an incredible amount of meters in altitude in the next 17 days.
Eddy just checked my equipment, because of course I packed to much stuff and trekking with more than 8 kg will be challenging. One might think that it should be possible to overcome this overpacking issue after spending such a long time travelling, but this time it’s different… Hiking boots, a fleece jumper, a map, a down sleeping bag, tape and medicine against high altitude sickness were not my usual travel companions so far. „What do you need a scarf for? You have a jacket with a high collar, that’s enough“, Eddy said. Of course I had to follow a few more advices in order to be good to go. I got to know Eddy through my friend Pema. He works as a licensed tour guide in his favorite environment: the mountain trails of the Himalaya. A few weeks ago we got in contact to organize the tour, because we both needed mental preparation: Me, as I am going to enter a complete new, physically challenging chapter and him, as he will translate interviews with the locals for me.
Besides my personal motivation for this adventure, I decided to research in the area for my master thesis. My desire to deal with a social and in some way psychological topic found satisfaction as I discovered the challenges that the Sherpa community is confronted with. Due to the growing number of trekkers and mountaineers the Sherpas lifestyle has changed dramatically. Wearing jeans and modern cloths, eating and serving western food and speaking English has become increasingly common since the past 25 years. From desk research so far I have noticed that their loss of culture, tradition and sense of religion is extremely visible. Questions like which kind of changes in their culture do they notice, what are they scared of, how do they see the role of tourism in it and how does it create opportunities for their livelihood, triggered me. I was more and more driven by the thought to talk to the locals in mountain communities about their formative life occurrences. My thesis supervisor felt this enthusiasm and as a qualitative researcher he could totally understand my motivation for such a topic. Within great skype conversations we formulated the preliminary research question as followed: How are Sherpa in the Khumbu area adapting their habitus?
Luckily, Eddy has lots of experience translating conversations and was totally happy to support this plan during our trekking tour. Even though it will be tough to combine conducting in-depth interviews with a physically challenging exercise, but I am very sure that it will make the big adventure even more adventurous.
But still, I feel the need to make some good wishes for the upcoming weeks. This can‘t be done any better than in my favorite place in the Boudhanath Stupa around the corner. Let’s see if it makes me become more religious!