The clock is ticking. My plane south leaves in less than five days! Realistically, most flights I take from here head south, away from all things permanently frozen, but the beginning of this trip is looking especially toasty at a current 97°F in New Delhi. NINETY-SEVEN DEGREES! That’s 36°C for all you metric folks. Say hello to my impending doom by heat stroke!
Luckily, my packing list includes things like crampons and an insulated parka, so I trust I will eventually find myself in my wintery element.
So… getting ready for the Himalayas. As ready as one can be, I suppose, because who, on a daily basis, is “ready” to scale the highest mountains on Earth? Not many, but I obviously aspire to be among them. It’s amazing to think that only four months after packing my bags for the end of the world, I’m now packing for the top of it.
In addition to being an exercise in packing light, the preparations for this trip have been extensive and included far too many trips to REI. Despite being Alaskan and already owning a lot of winter gear, many necessary items on the NOLS packing list are not things I own. Take synthetic insulation, for example.
Needless to say, I will be renting a lot of gear, especially things like a synthetic parka, synthetic sleeping bag, other things that actually stay warm when wet, and an ice axe (because who wants to take THAT through airport security?). However, I’ve had to make quite a few investments in the gear department, including a plastic spoon and instant coffee. (And gaiters, rain pants and liner socks, but let’s focus on the important things here.) I do have to make a special note of my favorite investment so far, though: insoles. Yep, I tried all the pretty Superfeet ones that were hot pink and lime green and all sorts of pretty colors… and these were the only ones that properly fit my feet.
What is this random guy’s picture doing on the inside of my shoe? I suppose that if times of fatigue and discouragement were to fall upon me, I could simply remove my boots, gaze into their depths, and gain inspiration from the guy’s apparently boundless energy. Let’s hope that’s what the manufacturers had in mind.
Aside from packing, a few other preparations have been underway. I probably should be spending more time reading, but who wants to read when you can write? Regardless, I’m determined to finish this book before the course starts, and learn at least a few basic words in Hindi.
The climber’s bible. It’s pretty dense, but extremely informative.
Today, I tackled by far the most joyous aspect of getting ready for an international trip: a preparatory visit to the doctor. Oh man, did she have a lot to say about India. After making sure I’d already been immunized for hepatitis, yellow fever and tetanus, she proceeded to vaccinate me for typhoid, the flu, Japanese encephalitis, and rabies. Yep, rabies. Guess what a rabies shot looks like? It’s NEON PINK and fails to resemble anything that should ever come in contact with the human body, much less be injected into it. Nevertheless, I was given the shots and prescribed medicines for both malaria and diarrhea, which is apparently a common, yet severe problem for travelers. Again, joyous. What did a well-traveled friend have to say when I posted this on Facebook? “This is the way of India. You’re gonna need them.”
As I sit collapsed into a chair, now cringing in pain at my burning, throbbing arms, I take comfort in the fact that this is probably better than having rabies. In the words of my mother, “Who wants to be foaming at the mouth and running around biting people?” Clearly, it’s worth it – with a bunch of vaccinations in my system, most of my gear ready, and air tickets purchased, I am one step closer to the Himalayas.