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September 10, 2019

A trekking guide’s five unforgettable incidents

A trekking guide's memoirs

  • Karna Bahadur Ghale
Karna Ghale
Karna Ghale-trekking guide

I have been engaged as a trekking guide for the last over 25 years. Currently, I am the chairperson of the Trekking Guide Association. I have at least five unforgettable incidents of my life to share. I started as a trekking guide since 1990.

First incident: Narrow escape from death

In 1994, while crossing the Ama lapcha region of Everest, there was one Sherpa friend climber whose name was Kili Pala from Lukla Chaurikharaka.

There were five German guests on our team. Our team had to get down by using a 200-meter ropeway. After sending all the guests by means of the ropeway, I was left as the last man to come down. It was a very difficult time for me to descend at that time. I narrowly escaped death. But I used all my legs and hands to crawl down the steep cliff.

After the descent from the cliff, we found a kitchen boy seriously ill due to altitude sickness. We immediately brought him to Chhoking area overnight. His condition was critical. We used all the methods to bring him back to life by giving him hot water and giving him all kinds of medical treatment. After two hours only he got back to his consciousness and we were relieved. That was the first unforgettable incident of my life while working as a trekking guide.

Tourists at rest
Tourists at rest

Second incident: When guest broke his arm

Another incident took place while going to the Lantang area. What happened was that our team of trekkers was going to cross the Gosaikund area, when suddenly it started snowing very heavily for the whole night. More than five inches deep snow covered the whole trail area. So we could not find out the exact location of our trail to get down from the hill of Gosainkunda.

So, what we did at that time was to slide down the hill by risking our lives. If a single mistake was done while sliding down the snow-covered hill, one could be nowhere. At first, we sent one of our clients downward. He safely descended down. Now it was my turn to go down from the hill.

I also started sliding and dropped upon the client who was waiting for us down there. As I collided with him, our guest broke one of his hands. So this was another unforgettable incident of my life.

Third incident: Stranded at Throng La Pass

The third incident of my life took place while passing through Throng La pass in 2002. We were crossing this pass. We had 7 member team of trekkers this time. In those days there was no second base camp. So we reached the high camp to stay overnight.

But the snow rained so heavily that night that we could not sleep at all as we had to clear snow from our tents that were falling all the time. The next day we could not cross the high camp. We had to stay there. There was no other team at Throng La. We were the only team. So, we could not get any help from anywhere. We could go ahead only after two days from there. So, this was also a memorable incident for me.

Karna-Ghale and Tourists
Karna-Ghale and Tourists

Fourth incident: When I drank Yak milk

The fourth incident is taken from 1997 when we were crossing Raksha Urai Himal which is the head of the Bajhang district.

I was accompanied by a friend named Jetha Rai from Solu. We were together at Raksha Himal to see the trekking trail. Chainpur is a place in Bhajang. There is another place called Hille.

There is no other village beyond that. The people of this place can’t speak Nepali. They could speak their Khas language and Hindi but not Nepali. This was a very surprising thing for us. They don’t know anything about tomato also. But anyhow we could reach the Raksha Himal area where we found few Yak sheds and people.

Since Yaks were in plenty the local people told us to drink Yak milk. I drank a lot of yak milk. But I could not digest it. So I suffered from dysentery the whole night which I can’t forget.

Fifth incident: On the bank of Seti River

Later on, when we went on this route for the expedition of Raksha Urai with Austrian team of 15 person including 2 doctors, we camped at one of the big plain area. We wanted to stay there for 12 nights. A few of our group members went up to set up high camp. But they returned to the first camp overnight saying that the weather condition was not favorable at that time.

Karna Ghale at Thorong La
Karna Ghale at Thorong La

The snowfall occurred from the morning. All our tents were submerged in snow. Of 84 potters 40 were left behind due to snowfall. We waited for them but they did not return.

At last two of our Sherpas went back to bring the potters back via a bank of Seti River. Then I told everyone to carry individual languages because the potters were to arrive late at night. At night we stayed at the slope area of the bank of the Seti River with whatever we had with few mattresses we had managed to carry with us.

There was no food left. The Austrians had brought with them some liquid foods like red bulls. We cooked some soup and fed the guests. There was no tent also.

They started drinking alcohol and dry meats. I also drank and got drunk. That night it was moonlit night. The guests could not sleep that night due to moonlight. They spent the night by making videos about us. When I got up I saw they were busy making videos and whispering something in the ears. I think they were whispering about me.

When we came to Chainpur of Bajhang, the local people came to welcome our group by playing music. We bought two goats and enjoyed food. That next day two of our staff members fought due to over drinking and eating. We took the help of policemen and solved the problem. Then as we had to return to Kathmandu from Dhangadi by bus as there was no place in flight the journey was very difficult because of the road which was not yet concrete.

(This blog has been written based on a conversation with Karba Bahadur Ghale – who is currently the chairman of Trekking Guide Association.)

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