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12 Things I’ve Learned from 40 years Trekking the Himalayas

By Ray Baker

My 40th anniversary of trekking in the Himalayas is coming up in 2019. I’ve made many mistakes along the way and I’d like to think I’ve learned from those mistakes.

Here’s 12 things I’ve learned along the way.

  1. The mountains are in charge; they decide if the weather will be user friendly or not. Go with the flow.
  2. Have physical endurance. Endurance, in relation to trekking, is the ability to keep walking over difficult terrain, for long periods of time. Endurance enables the trekker to resist, withstand and recover from fatigue and injury.
  3. Have mental endurance. If you’re physically exhausted, your mental strength is a vital reinforcement. Persevere.
  4. Be sensible, be careful, be safe. Be prepared to stop and turn back if the way ahead is dangerous.
  5. Maintain a positive attitude; particularly if you’re trekking in a group. No-one likes to hear the complaints of others. If you’re unhappy with something, have a private conversation with the guide or trek leader.
  6. Be culturally aware. The Himalaya is the abode of friendly, welcoming people. Learn a few conversational words of the local language. Educate yourself on the cultural do’s and don’ts. Doors will open.
  7. Get the right advice on appropriate clothing and equipment for the trek you’re doing. Speak to experienced trekkers.
  8. Don’t trek alone unless you’re very experienced, then think twice before you set out alone. Everything may be tickety-boo, until something goes wrong. Then you’ll need help. Maybe all you need is a shoulder to cry on.
  9. Food is fuel. Don’t expect Mum’s roast lamb in the Himalaya. You’ll get food that’s delicious and you’ll get food that isn’t. No food, no energy.
  10. Be aware of personal hygiene. You may get away with wearing the same undies for a week but look out if you don’t keep your face and hands clean.
  11. The journey is more important than the destination. The journey starts once you’ve made the decision to trek in the Himalaya. Acquiring clothing and equipment, training and researching are part of the journey. During your trek, every step on every day is to be treasured.
  12. Have fun. Relax and strive to be happy.