Episode 124: A Change In The Air

A Familiar Face. The rest of the hike to Dingboche had a little bit of everything. We enjoyed trees, tundra, flat sections, steep sections, hot temps, cold temps, sunshine and snow!

It was one of those days that almost all people who live in mountainous regions like to say to visitors, “Don’t like the weather here? Just wait 5 minutes and it will change.” Oh, we feel so clever saying things like that to tourists, don’t we?

Still, it was a glorious day but the scenery and pleasant hiking conditions weren’t the highlight for me.

What really made my day was stumbling into my dear friend Dawa Gyaltsen Sherpa–the cook from our 2003 expedition on the North Side in Tibet! I was hiking with Karma and Sonam at the time and we came across a couple of friends of theirs who were heading down the trail we were heading up. The 4 of them chatted for a minute in Sherpa while I was fiddling with my GPS tracking device.

Obviously I wasn’t paying much attention to the two friends because I almost fell over when one of the men said, “Hello, Jon.” My attention quickly refocused and as I briefly stared at the man with the familiar voice I realized who it was. I immediately gave Dawa a big hug.

I have been trying to visit with Dawa, unsuccessfully for the past 6 years! I was hoping to meet up with him in 2007 on Everest’s North side but two weeks before his expedition was to begin, Mountain Tribes switched to a South side permit due to climbing restrictions being enforced by the Chinese Mountaineering Association on that North side. I was crushed when Babu informed me of the route change when Scott and I arrived in Kathmandu that April.

On this trip, I’ve known the entire time that I would be able to see Dawa because he is on Everest’s South side, but I wasn’t planning on seeing him until I walked into Base Camp in a few more days.

We only chatted for a few minutes because he was busy with his own clients but we’ll get to hang out a bit when I do make it up to BC. Dawa means so much to me and we became good friends after all of those weeks in Tibet together.

What an amazing experience to be walking on the other side of the planet from home and bump into such a good friend! I know the odds are actually pretty good that that can happen here, but it’s so wonderful that it actually happened!

Can’t wait to officially catch up with Dawa in a few days. I just hope the snow storm we’ve walked into won’t hamper our team’s chances of making it all of the way up to BC.

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 39:27