Written by: Oliver Johnson
It was an evening to remember. The light above the dark clouds which illuminated the valley an ominous grey, was slowly becoming extinguished. The previous 2 days and that morning and early afternoon had been spent slogging it up and up and up… but now we were here! In Annapurna Base Camp! That day from Deurali was spent passing huge boulders, jagged - almost polygonal - hills to your left and right, and brownish grassland reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands.
After a long lull of checking our phones and twiddling our thumbs, a small break in the clouds encouraged myself and several others to drag ourselves from the comfort and warmth of the dining room.
ABC is surrounded by large hills and even larger mountains, the very peaks of the latter however we couldn't see because of the aforementioned clouds. Personally however, I saw - and heard - enough for my imagination to do the rest.
Notice how I said 'heard'? I may not have been able to see everything but I think I heard everything. By the moraine next to base camp, which sheerly drops into the rock strewn glacier below, one can hear from the distant mountains - every 10 or so seconds - the loud crack of splitting glaciers and the low thud of falling boulders. Their echoes reached you like the fading crack of distant thunder. A warning perhaps. A warning to anyone with the childish temerity to dare attempt one of Annapurna's peaks.
It just added to the epicness of this place.
Exploring the boulder strewn grassland just beyond ABC, I was pointed towards the cloudy peak of a snowy hill. At the top, I saw two silhouetted figures standing triumphant at the top of the hill. A wave of excitement reverberated through my entire being. They gazed across the valley like triumphant conquerors, surveying all that was theirs.
I spent the rest of the evening in the dining room, basking in the camaraderie gained amongst those who have completed a difficult task together. For most of my trip up to ABC, I had hung out with a mountaineering group, mostly consisting of Sherpas. For them, this trek was only just the beginning. The next day, they were to begin their first steps towards an attempted summit of Mount Singu Chuli. All of them wore broad smiles, all content in one another's company.
I went to bed that night happy. And, unbeknownst to me at the time, a seed had been planted within my mind. I woke up the next morning, and started to think about climbing a mountain. I told a woman I met about it that very morning. She told me it's quite something that I'd still want to do something like that with how the conditions are right here, right now - that is, very bloody cold.
I believe they call this strange, seemingly counterintuitive phenomenon the spirit of adventure.
I believe that this spirit - a desire to teach, trek and now maybe even climb in far away locales, in spite of the soaking rain and the sucking leeches, the drilling sun and the freezing cold - is what drove me to Trek To Teach in the first place. It's a desire to achieve, and a desire to explore - to paraphrase my parent's favorite show - 'where few men have gone before!'