Beautiful Renjo La – this 17,677′ pass is my favorite place in all of Nepal! It was here, in 2012 that I first saw Mt. Everest, crowned with an amazing lenticular cloud, surrounded by more giant peaks Lohtse, Cho Oyo, Nuptse, and Makalu. I was overcome by the emotion of awe and wonderment — I felt a sense of rapture, of divinity. How could there be ten thousand endless shades of blue? How could the sky be so flawless?
I returned to Renjo La in 2013. This time, the ground was snowier, and as I made final slow steps to the pass, I felt the sting of bitter cold air on my face. But after that final step, I turned and stood spellbound, gazing at the magnificence. Then these golden streaks in the sky, like arms reaching from the sun millions of miles away, found my cheeks and touched them with soothing warmth, as if to welcome me to that high place.
But a year ago Renjo La was so very different.
October 25, 2015, I remember a voice, leaning close and saying “When the helicopter comes, we will carry you. You will want to help, but you are to do nothing. Let us do all the work.” I could see my reflection in metallic blue shiny lenses of the lady’s glasses, so it seemed like was two of me. Both of me had my white beanie on. Both of me had an oxygen mask covering my face. Where am I? Why am I lying on the ground?
I felt so tired and wanted to drift back into sleep. No, NO! You can’t do that — you’ll go to the black place again where you can’t breathe! Matt said you have to breathe and he’ll yell at you again if you don’t breathe!
Rocky ground was all around me. I saw a big snowy mountain in the distance that had a spindrift plume trailing eastward off the summit – Mt. Everest! Then I remembered where I was. I remembered what happened. And I was terrified. I might die here terrified.
Matt Parkes, expedition leader for Jagged Globe, managed the crisis of my sudden cardiac arrest event perfectly and flew with me in the heli to Kathmandu. The next day flew back to the Everest region to lead the difficult expedition up Kyajo Ri. I was a patient at Grande Hospital, where Dr. Om, performed procedures to insert three stents in damaged coronary arteries. Upon discharge, Dr. Om made me promise I would visit him when I returned to Nepal to go climbing again. My prognosis was that good!
I am keeping my promise, and will see Dr. Om in two weeks. We will meet at a Kathmandu TV station where he wants to interview me about my experience, then discuss the importance and effectiveness of CPR. I am so eager to see him and thank him again for his excellent care of me.
The Jagged Globe company has welcomed me back (“you’ve had ‘maintenance’ done”) to join their trip through the Everest region, crossing three passes–the first being Renjo La, but this time from the opposite direction. We’ll also go to Everest Base Camp, which I’ve never seen. There is a map of all this here on the Home Page of AnnieUpHigh.com–just click on the markers and you can see photos of where we will go.
This past year I’ve been fortunate to have an excellent cardiologist, Dr. Decker, as well as a wonderful exercise physiologist–Mark Patterson–my medical “coach” to help me return to all things mountain I love. I feel great–I want to feel the awe and wonderment of the Renjo La once more. Will you go with me again, dear readers? Things might get a bit emotional when I get to the rock I was propped up against, but I promise to avoid all that other drama this time. Really.
After the three-week journey through the Himalayas, I’ll return to Her Farm of course! Wonderful things are happening in Mankhu Village and I’m excited to share with you what these amazing women are doing: the new road, the new community center, and the new volunteer house in Kathmandu, just to name a few The current crop of adorable cute kids are growing up quite nicely, too!
On my way to Nepal? I’ll fly to London, arriving Monday Oct. 10 to visit with my friend Susan, fellow trekker from the 2012 Great Himalaya Trail adventure. We will take a train north to Sheffield the next day where I’ll stop at the Jagged Globe office to thank all the wonderful folks there who’ve helped me so much.
And I will see Matt — the reason my heart is beating, the reason I can hug my family, the reason I can experience life’s joy, the reason my feet stand on Colorado 14ers, the reason I can return to Nepal and see the beautiful Renjo La.