At this time of year, we often take groups of graduates to Nepal for trekking and self-reflection–a remarkable capstone experience for individuals to celebrate and share in their accomplishments and excitement. Though we aren’t taking students to Nepal this season, here’s a post written by one of our Nepalese facilitators, Bikash Tamang, who has worked with us on several JUMP! Experience Programs. Bikash is a resilient and empathetic human, friend, and team member. He has been nominated for the annual International Exodus Tour Leader Award for 2017, 2018, and 2019. This year, he was the runner up. We are so proud of Bikash. We hope you enjoy reading his story of becoming a mountain guide along with his gorgeous pictures from Nepal.
My name is Bikash Tamang from Nepal and I would like to share my experience with mountain guiding.
I started bouldering in 2013 for the first time, which is climbing without a harness. I think it is a fun technique. As I learned more about how to climb and how to use body movements, my passion grew and I started to climb with big wall climbing and natural rock climbing. My skills for climbing techniques increased a lot during that time.
A year later in 2014, I got a chance to join the Three Months Backpacking and Self Supports Training through my job at Initiative Outdoor. This opportunity was the turning point in my life to work in the trekking and mountaineering field. I was super excited at that time. Training was held in the mountain areas in Nepal during the months of December to February–one of the coldest times of the year. During the training, I saw Mt. Everest for the first time in my life. I got so emotional and cried because I had never seen Everest before that except for on the television and in photographs. After I completed my training, I got a job with Exodus Travels as a trek leader. My work slowly began in the trekking field, which goes through many parts of the Himalayas in Nepal.
When I walked through the Himalayas, my passion became even greater for the mountains. I decided to climb and work as a mountain guide. I was so fascinated about mountain climbing. I started to climb more in the climbing gym to keep myself fit and strong. I hung out with a mountaineering friend and asked him about climbing techniques. I finally decided to climb the mountain, Mera Peak, in 2016.
In 2016, I had a big accident. I fell down from the climbing wall and hit both my knees badly and went to the hospital. The doctor said to me “you can’t climb for at least 2 months.” I was so sad. I thought that I would never go back to climbing. It was at the same time that I was supposed to go for my mountaineering training but I couldn’t. I needed rest and I had to cancel it. The doctor’s medicine didn’t help. My knee was not getting better. My friends suggested going to a therapist and I went for 4 months of therapy and acupuncture treatment for my knee. e. After those months my knee was finally better and I could climb again. I really want to thank my therapists; their names are Tora and Sonam didi. I set my mind that I wanted to climb and I never gave up. I will keep following my passions. Whatever happens to you, never ever give up. I learned that lesson.
When I recovered, I got an offer from Exodus Travel to go along with the group to climb as an assistant climbing guide. I can’t believe that I got so lucky to go with a group and expert mountain guide to work as an assistant climbing guide. I started my expedition with the group and the trail was full of big hills, climbing up and down for 5 days. We got snowed on every day and the trail was harder and harder because you could not see the path properly. It snowed almost 3 feet along the trail. We learned how to properly glacier walk, use an ice axe, climbing boots, different kinds of knots, helmets, gears etc.
The next day, I went to the high camp which is 5,800 meters elevation, and we had to sleep there overnight. When I reached 5800 meters for the first time, I got a little bit of a headache and vomited after I ate my food. I was so afraid to go and climb the next day. I didn’t want to vomit again. I shared what happened to me with the guide and he was so nice.
He said, “Relax Bikash, nothing’s gonna happen to you. It’s just a high altitude and your first time.” He suggested taking some medicine. I took medicine for my headache and vomiting. After that, I felt better. I was still so tired because it was my first time at high altitude. That day at high camp, it was snowy and windy the whole day, which made us work really hard. In addition to the climbing, we were also preparing food and tents for our clients to make sure that they felt as comfortable as possible. The next day, we planned to start our climb at 1 AM and reach the summit by 7 AM.
We were climbing with a team and had only two clients to go with us. The rest of the clients got altitude sickness and couldn’t go further. The weather was very severe with non-stop lightning, snow, and wind. We waited for a while to see if the weather would get better. Finally, at 2 AM we started our climb. It was still windy and snowing. The trail was very difficult, but the weather was a little better than before, so we decided to try and make it to the summit. We kept climbing and didn’t give up. As we went higher, the trail became harder and harder, passing through the big crevasse and climbing steep uphill. I was walking slowly but still climbing with the group. Suddenly, the guide was shouting at me and said “ go down.” He thought I was too slow for the group. I was quite disappointed and tried to push through. After an hour, he told me to go back again and kept saying it to me only even though the clients were also slow. I told him that I wanted to continue with the group.
I couldn’t go back by myself. It was really dangerous and my first time climbing a mountain. I didn’t know the way. There were crevasses along the way, and it was windy and snowing. I couldn’t even see the trail. Later on, the clients decided to go down because it was too dangerous to go higher. Suddenly, I got so emotional. I really wanted to make it to the summit, but the weather was too bad. Every step I walked down, my eyes were full of tears. I never expected that the situation would happen to us. I was so worried because I didn’t make it to the summit. I only made it halfway and I felt that I wouldn’t ever be able to climb mountains, but I never let my negative thoughts turn into reality. One thing came to my mind: NEVER GIVE UP.
Though I was discouraged from the experience at Mera Peak, I was determined to continue my work as a trek leader. I continued working for Exodus and found another job with Nireka Adventures, who eventually connected me to work with JUMP!. After a year of working in Nepal, I got an offer to go to India and work as a trek leader and assistant climbing guide. I was so happy. I didn’t expect that I would be going to India for trekking and climbing. I went to India, and worked as a trek leader for the Stok Kangri expeditions. Finally, the summit day arrived on the expedition in India. I accomplished my dream on 18 July 2018. I stood on the top of a Mountain. I have no words to describe how I felt there on top of the mountain. Tears were dripping down from my eyes of pure happiness. I will never ever forget that moment in my entire life.
After my experience in India, I was hired as a leader for a Mera Peak expedition–the same expedition from two years before where there was an unsuccessful summit. This time, I summitted with my group without any problems. The weather was perfect. Now, I work as a mountain guide for 6000 meter peaks. If you dream to achieve something please never give up.
Here are a few tips I would like to share with everyone about my experience:
- Make a plan before you do anything. Always prepare.
- Never give up.
- Follow your passion, no matter what.
- Before you climb, please do some climbing training and exercises, so that you are ready.
- Always walk on durable surfaces, avoid the wild animals and mountain hazards.
- Pay attention to the trail.
- Always make safety your first priority, no matter what you are doing. Life is more important than anything else.
- If you are going trekking or mountaineering, please always take a local guide for your safety.
- In the mountains, always listen to your body. Whatever happens to you, don’t push yourself more because it could threaten your life.
- Don’t climb up more than 500 meters per day, always think about your health and prevent altitude sickness.
- Drink plenty of water, keep yourself hydrated and eat plenty of food. You need energy.
- Don’t lose your body temperature in cold weather environments. Even if you feel warm and want to remove a layer of your clothing, make sure that you are able to stay at a safe body temperature.
- Always carry a first aid kit.
- If you have any problems please don’t panic, calm down, share your problem with others, and ask for help. Trust that your guides and other local people are willing and prepared to help you.
- Follow “Leave No Trace” Principles