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October 13, 2019

Nepalese mountains and love allured me

  • Yamamoto Miyuki, Japanese Nurse & Mountaineer

My name is Yamamoto Miyuki. I’m a nurse in Osaka. My interest is in mountaineering and I have already climbed 3 mountains over 8,000 meters, including the highest peak, Mt. Everest.

This season, I climbed Mt. Manaslu in Gorkha, which has become an unforgettable expedition. The weather had worsened and we had to stay in the base camp for a very long time but eventually, the weather improved and we managed to reach the peak of the mountain.

This is my fourth visit to Nepal. During this period I have had the opportunity to gather countless experiences in the high mountains of Nepal. Truth be told, when I first came to Nepal in 2009, I was very disappointed. There was dust, smoke, and darkness in Kathmandu. So at that time, I thought that I would not be coming back to Nepal, but it didn’t become like that. Nepali people’s love and respect is unique which draws you back and I am its example.

I was born in a small town in Japan and went to Osaka for study. I studied nursing and now I am in the same profession.

For the first time in 2009, I came to Nepal for trekking. That’s when I got off the plane in Kathmandu and saw a dusty atmosphere. I walked in wearing a mask, and even when I didn’t have a mask, I covered my nose by hand.

At that time, I was trekking up to Namche Bazaar, the getway to Mt. Everest. I flew to Lukla to go to Namche Bazaar. However, Lukla Airport seemed quite risky. My heart was beating faster but I reached there and returned safely.

Lukla is situated at an altitude of 2,900 meters. It was a bit uncomfortable to reach a height like this at once without any experience. But the food there was very good and organic and people were respectful to others. I was very curious to see the mules carrying the goods and the goats walking along with the peoples.

Even after coming to Japan, I never stopped trekking. After joining a trekking club, a desire for climbing the mountains developed inside me. So I decided to go to Nepal again to climb the mountains. In 2017, I came to Nepal again.

At that time I climbed the Iching Himal located in the western part of Nepal which is 6,080 meters high. We had taken about two months. We not only ascended the mountains but also visited the famous tourist areas of the central part of Nepal like Palpa and Pokhara. For the remaining time, I visited the Langtang area.

My second visit to Nepal was good. Found a good guide, many people started to get acquainted with me and Nepalese habits, attitudes, and culture of respect for others brought me even closer.

Then, I was drawn to the mountains and behavior of the peoples. In the year 2018, desire for climbing some technically difficult mountains developed as I had started loving the challenges and finally I thought of climbing a challenging mountain. While searching for it, I found Ama Dablam to be very suitable for the expedition. For this, I started training in mountaineering in Japan.

My third visit to Nepal was for 46 days. First, we went to Gokyo Lake which was a way of adapting our body at higher altitudes. And then we climbed the 6,119 meters high Lobuche peak. Then finally I ascended challenging Ama Dablam situated at an altitude of 6,812 meters from sea level. After this successful ascent, I again went for climbing the Island Peak situated at an altitude of 6,160 meters.

I got used to the challenges in the mountains. I thought of climbing a mountain over 8,000 meters high. Among the 14 mountains in the world over 8,000 meters, eight are situated in Nepal, including Everest. And I looked at the Everest documentary, read the articles and then I believed that I could climb it. Along with the world’s tallest mountain Everest, Lhotse is also situated near Everest with a height of 8,516 meters.

Some Japanese men climbed Everest and then climbed Lhotse at once but there were no women to do so. Seeing that, I desired to climb Lhotse along with the Everest. It was kind of a challenge and I accepted it, then underwent training accordingly.

With the idea of ​​climbing Everest and Lhotse, I came to Nepal again in 2019. After obtaining permission along with the other mountaineers, I reached the base camp of Everest. After completing Everest climbing preparations, on May 22, 2019, I reached the peak of Everest. Reaching the highest point in the world brings a different feeling of joy.

That same day we returned from the top of Everest and reached the peak of Lhotse on the 23rd of May. A good guide is required to climb the mountain. I found the good guides and succeeded due to their advice and assistance.

While I was climbing Everest I learned that watching in movies and reading in books is very different from climbing in person. The books I read and the movies I watched were not very helpful. The crevasses and ladders I found there were very different.

Next, I would like to talk about the changes that have taken place in Nepal. I saw a lot of changes over the last two years.  In the beginning, due to the load shedding, there was no lightning in Kathmandu but now there is no load shedding at all. The transportation facilities are starting to get better too. Another amazing change I saw is a different kind of houses being built. I didn’t even imagine that apartments like that will be built in Nepal.

I came to Nepal again in another season of the same year 2019 and climbed an 8,169 meters high Mt. Manaslu. In this way, I think that I will be the first Japanese woman to climb the three mountains over 8,000 meters high in the same year.

Climbing mountains is not just a matter of physical fitness, it is also a challenge. It changes the way we think and see. This is also a reason I love to climb mountains and take on challenges.

I already said, when I returned from Nepal in the first visit, I thought I was never coming back but it didn’t become like that. Having trekked many areas of Nepal, not only the mountains, the people and the culture have started to pull me. I want to go to Nepal again and again. The festivals, people who respect others, their cultures and food attracts me. Their main food is pulses, rice, and curry. At first, I didn’t like it so much, but now I love it.

So far I have been climbing the mountains at my own expense and trust me, it is very expensive. The last time I went to Manaslu, some of my friends and office colleagues helped me with the expenses. Still, I like to climb even more challenging mountains. So I’m looking for sponsors too. If you find like-minded sponsors, I will continue to take on more challenges. Nepal is still in my heart and I will be visiting Nepal again and again.

(This article is based on conversation with Yamamoto Miyuki, Japanese nurse cum mountaineer)

Photos: Aashis Gurung/Anup Gurung

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