A Himalayan Odyssey

The following poem appeared in the January 1993 newsletter: A Himalayan Odyssey being an account of an ascent of Mera Peak, 6476m.

The cloud had covered us with gloom
in Tangnat, where there’s lots of room
to grow potatoes and to sit around
in a bothy, where we quickly found,
a source of chang.

Next day our spirits raised, we rose
to find the sky was bright and those
with cameras showed themselves how keen,
snapping the mountains which had not been seen.
The porters sang.

An easy day, but four hours only,
to Khare, where we need not be lonely,
for many Danes, Americans and Scots
are camped there in amongst the rocks.
The yak bells rang.

Three days saw us at Khare camp
and to a near peak did tramp,
to stretch our limbs and to put to test
our ability to breath and rest.
I saw a shooting star.

The fourth day was the serious stuff,
we’d thrown out all the unwanted muff
and plodding up towards the snow,
continued on to Mera Lo.
Actually , the Mera La.

We reached the snow like lone fit team.
Time to apply a dose of cream.
Crampons on; abite to eat;
the bright sun increased its heat.
‘cos my age, the Sherpas call me papa.

At nineteen thousand feet that night
we camped upon a flattened site.
We’d passed a lot of men that day,
happy in soul, as be or may.
I was overtaken by Dawa.

‘twas minus eight inside the tent.
Sleep was difficult; it came and went.
My sleeping bag, boots, camera and me
was not the comfortablest place to be.
But I was fine, so far.

Three o’clock breakfast, porridge and tea;
those Sherpa boys are stronger than me.
Dressed in the dark, then crampons on.
Is the strength there? Will the day be won?
Our rope was joined by Pemba.

The moon was up[, the snow was crisp,
our torches wavered like a wasp.
We roped together, groups of fours
and plodded off without a pause.
At four o’clock we left camp.

Three or four summits,plus another one or two,
Mera has a choice for you.
You climb the one to suit you most;
honour done, at home to boast.
Gasping for breath; that last snow ramp.

The joy, the pleasure, the struggle done.
The photo calls, the day’s been won.
Then thankfully one turns around,
downward steps to measurally pound
back to base, our tracks to stamp.

J.N.B. 1992