“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”– Mark Twain
Thus wrote Mark Twain, noted American humorist and author, exhorting all and sundry to set off for the unknown, fearless and uninhibited.
A group of six spirited female adventurers (most of them in their 40s) from Canada and France seemed to have taken his advice to heart and sought to climb Mera Peak , Nepal’s highest trekking peak in November, at the onset of chilly winter season. Explore Himalaya had the opportunity to organize the expedition for the group. After the completion of their expedition, the ladies dropped in at our office and the group leader Lou Lamontagne, spoke at length about their trip to Mera Peak and the changes she found in Nepal since her last visit in 2005.
(Expedition members (wearing scarves) with Explore Himalaya’s staff)
Though only one member (Hélène Mineau) could reach the summit, Lou said that they were all happy with the expedition.
To quote Lou – “We would have liked to do the summit but for us not doing the summit is not a disaster. We enjoyed all the aspects of the expedition.. that’s the most important thing.”
Read about their trip in Lou’s own words :
“We were six people – five Canadians(Marie Légaré, Carole CôTÉ, Hélène Mineau, Isabelle Gagnon & Lou Lamontagne) and one French (Severine Tralli). We are a group of friends and we have done a lot of mountaineering and kayaking and outdoor stuff in the past and so we knew each other. I proposed them a trip to Nepal and they said OK. So we went on internet and tried to find a good company. Actually we found your website. We have some friends in Pokhara called 3 Sisters Adventure. They are into trekking also, but they didn’t do Solu Khumbu trekking, just the Annapurna. So we checked with them. We asked if you were a good company and they said you had a good reputation and we could trust you and we went ahead.
Our trek was excellent. It met all our expectations and we are very happy with the way we were received at the airport. We are also very happy with the expedition itself, the way the staff took care of us. We really appreciated all the small little attention, you know, like bed tea and wash water. They (Explore Himalaya’s staff) just generally made sure that our safety and security was on the agenda.
In 2005 I did the Around the Annapurna Trek (21 days), and that was wonderful also. This expedition was much, much harder. Only one member from our group summitted. I had a bad bronchitis problem in Khare just before High Camp. I knew that I couldn’t summit because I was coughing very bad and I had a fever. The other five members went up to High Camp. But four of them got sick with altitude sickness and just one summitted. But that’s okay we would have liked to do the summit but for us not doing the summit is not a disaster. We enjoyed all the aspects of the expedition. So that’s the most important thing.
When I was here in 2005, it was in the middle of People’s War. We witnessed a great military presence everywhere and the Maoists used to stop us and ask for money. We could feel the political upheaval. It was pretty serious at that time and the King was almost out of a job. But now that the Civil War is over, I find more trekkers on the trail and the hotels, tea- houses and lodges doing good business. Things are back to normal.
I would like to come back and visit Dolpo region. This trip was wonderful and we were happy with everything. This was truly a wonderful trip and I am sure we will meet again.”
(Photos Courtesy : Marie Légaré & Isabelle Gagnon)
Explore Himalaya recently organized an expedition for an all female group to Mera Peak(6654m). While five of the climbers were Canadian, one member was from France.
Mera Peak’s summit
The names of the members are are as follows: 1. SEVERINE TRALLI (France)
2. MARIE Légaré (Canada)
3. CAROLE CôTÉ (Canada)
4. HÉLÈNE MINEAU (Canada)
5. ISABELLE GAGNON (Canada)
6. LOUISE LAMONTAGNE (Canada) – Expedition Group Leader
The group was supported by SirdarDAGELJI SHERPA, climbing sherpas TEMBA SHERPA and NAWANG GODHEN SHERPA. Though only one member HÉLÈNE MINEAU could reach the summit, the members were happy that all of them could reach High Camp. HÉLÈNE MINEAU summitted Mera Peak along with Temba Sherpa and Nawang Godhen Sherpa on 18th November 2010 at 7:00 AM (local time).
Explore Himalaya congratulates HÉLÈNE MINEAU for her successful summit bid and the rest of the members for reaching High Camp.
Mr. Salah Salim Ahmed Al Habsi was handed over Nepal Mountaineering Association’s certificate of achievement for being the first climber from UAE to summit Mera Peak by Mr. Suman Pandey at Explore Himalaya’s office this afternoon.
A shield commemorating the climber’s achievement was also handed over to the climber from Explore Himalaya’s side by Everest Summitteer and pilot Simeon Moro from Italy.
On 17th October 2010, Salah Salim Ahmed Al Habsi became the first climber from UAE (United Arab Emirates) to summit Mera Peak (6654m). The highest of Nepal’s trekking peaks, Mera Peak lies to the south of Everest, dominating the watershed between the wild and beautiful valleys of the Hinku and Hongu.
After his return to Kathmandu, we got to meet Mr. Al Habsi. It was a delight to meet this friendly and courteous climber, who is also a Lieutenant Colonel and Lecturer at Police College, Abu Dhabi Police G.H.Q. He seemed elated to have accomplished his mission and was grateful to the team from Explore Himalaya for their support in organizing his expedition. He said, “I am grateful to Explore Himalaya and the team of sherpas who made it easy for me to reach the top. They did a lot of hard work.”
Coming from a country devoid of high mountains (according to Wikipediathe highest point in UAE is a 1910m unnamed knoll), I couldn’t help asking how he got interested in mountaineering. Speaking about his passion for climbing, he said he got hooked onto climbing while he was studying in USA. According to him he has done a lot of climbing in America and Europe. In Nepal he has already summitted Island peak and Mera Peak. When asked what’s next on his agenda, he replied “Everest in March 2011!”
I have heard it often times and I heard it from from Al Habsi too. Like many others who had visited nepal, Mr. Al Habsi’s views did not differ: “Nepal is a beautiful country and it’s a great place to visit. The people are nice and the place is worth visiting, but the country needs to develop it’s infrastructure. I think to attract high end tourists the infrastructure needs to be developed.”
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the people concerned will take note of Mr. Al Habsi’s suggestion!
To know more about his views on climbing and others, check the video clip.