Nepal

Written by Anya Marie

On September 10th, 2019, Ben and I set out for our first part of our 18 month Honeymoon: Nepal.

Below you will find our “daily” posts from Instagram to help keep our friends and family posted back home. I’ve also written a couple of blog posts here:

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Benya Honeymoon Days 12-14 (9/23/19 – 9/25/19): After descending yet again to deal with my altitude sickness, we finally were ready to start our mountaineering objective: Tent Peak. From Machapuchare Basecamp at 12,139 feet we trekked up for a third (fourth for Ben) time to Annapurna Basecamp for one last hot meal (for several days) before we started our way across the rocky moraine. This first day was relatively short as we just needed to descend a steep mud trail down to the moraine and follow cairns til we got to the other side where tent peak basecamp lay at 13,780 feet. Since most people just do the treks, we didn’t anticipate to see anyone else past Annapurna Basecamp, but then we heard a bunch of “baaaas” and there it was, a shepherd and his herd. This was a totally unexpected surprise and quite hilarious as we tried to communicate with the shepherd (who had a very limited English vocabulary), but he was so kind as to offer up a space to sleep in his shelter which we kindly declined as we were excited to use our new 2 person sleeping bag. Our first night camping on the trip proved to be less than ideal as it rained on our single wall tent meant only for snow conditions and the shepherd’s dog perched himself up on a rock near our tent barking for a good portion of the evening. This all was just a foreshadowing of the next few camping nights where we’d continue to get less than the ideal amount of sleep, but we pushed onward and upwards to our objective; setting up our camp each day in a higher location and then hiking higher up in order to acclimatize better. Every now and again we got beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and it was these moments I was happy we were climbing.

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Benya Honeymoon Days 15-17 (9/26/19 – 9/28/19): On the morning of 9/26, Ben and I hesitantly packed up and headed up to high camp at 16,500 feet after already having hiked up the day before as part of our acclimatization plan. As we got up there, we met 4 Nepali men and their “guest”, a German mountaineer. He’d been up at high camp for 5 days attempting to find a way to climb a neighboring peak, Singu Chuli, but since crevasse navigation was difficult and the weather was poor, he and his guide summited Tent Peak instead! It was nice to get beta from him on the peak and know it was actually possible; him and his guide had placed a fixed line in the location where Ben and I would have had to turn around as we didn’t have mixed climbing tools (due to climate change the beta we had was outdated due to melt of the glaciers, etc). As we pushed up toward the glacier from high camp, we got all our gear on, roped up and we were climbing. I was so stoked at this moment, we were about to climb a Himalayan peak… or I suppose we had already started several days ago. Weather was perfect, warm, overcast, and then…. SNOW STORM, heavy snow storm. Of course, after 2 weeks on the trail, bouts of sicknesses from us both, here we were in good health, plenty of energy, and weather was our culprit. We tried to wait out the storm for 30-45 minutes while on the glacier as we couldn’t see more than 20 feet in front of us, but then we started to get very cold as the temperature dropped and standing still did us no good, so we decided to turn around. It was such a disappointment as we’d spent so many days and Ben had done so much research on this peak, but with mountaineering, you can do all the prep in the world and still never have a successful summit bid. All in all though, I was proud of us, it was by far the hardest thing either of us had ever done and a turnaround at 17,000 feet in elevation was the highest we’d ever been, so overall, I feel it was a success. We both learned a lot about ourselves, the mountains, how there’s a very delicate balance of weight savings versus comfort/practicality, and how we want to stick to ski mountaineering.

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Benya Honeymoon Days 22-24(10/3/19 – 10/5/19): Ben and I thought we’d just have a week of chill time before we did our whitewater kayak clinic back in Pokhara but of course we decided we needed more adventure so we headed to Chitwan National Park. I found us this awesome little “eco village” where we got a cute little “Love Nest” bamboo hut WITH electricity for only $8 USD a night! The Evergreen Ecovillage was such a great place that catered only to vegetarians and vegans, had composting toilets, utilized solar for all of their electricity, and all of their huts were made of bamboo or repurposed materials. I was a happy little camper. But, the purpose of our visit to Chitwan was for the National Park despite my love of the little ecovillage; Chitwan is known for their Jungle Walks, where you are required to be accompanied by 2 guides, one who leads and another who follows your group as you go through the jungle in search of one-horned rhinos, Bengal tigers, monkeys, crocodiles and various bird species! We started our journey on a 2 hour canoe (made from a hollowed out tree) ride down a river where we then disembarked and started our walk. We saw many tiger prints in the mud (sadly no tigers though), but the most notable part of the walk was how close we came SEVERAL times to rhinos (which you can see in one of the photos). Our guides warned us of what we should do pending the distance between our group and the rhino, which included standing still in a group to throwing rocks/sticks to running in a zig zag or up a tree 😂 Overall, it was a nice few days in Chitwan between the fun village, jungle walk and a bike ride through the countryside; a nice change of pace from the trekking we’d been doing.

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