Lukla April 15 2022, last day with the team. From left to right, Bhakta the porter, Gizeh, sherpa Mingmar, Ana, and guide Anand Sharma.

Of my recent Nepal trip with my friend Gizeh, two moments stand out (among many many others). One took place some time April 10, during our crossing of Renjo Pass (5360 m, approx. 17,500 feet). I was completely out of breath, feeling dizzy and lightheaded due to altitude, and every time I looked up and saw the distance (and elevation) left to cover I became despondent. On the other hand, there was no other option than to keep going- we had to get to Gokyo by the end of the day. Our guide Anand then started walking in front of me, setting a very slow pace, and instructed me to not look up and focus on breathing. Which I did- what I remember from that time is a tunnel vision focused on expanding my rib cage to get air with each breath, timed to each step. And eventually, we made it to the top.

The other moment happened days later, when the trek became much easier as we were descending, and the arid mountain landscapes became lush forests full of blooming rhododendrons, birch and pine trees, with bird songs animating the air. We stopped for lunch in a village around Dole, at a lodge by a small river. It was sunny and warm, and I sat for some minutes looking at the river, listening to the sound of rushing water and birds chirping, taking in the view of the nearby hanging bridge full of prayer flags fluttering in the wind. For those moments, I was purely in the now of nature, beauty, and peace.

Of course there are many more stories to tell, of things we learned and saw, of the magnificent views of the Himalayas, of the grace and kindness of the Nepali people met along the way, and of course of the physical challenges of high altitude trekking. But those two moments remain in my memory so vividly because of the experience of being so focused and centered, either by necessity or pleasure.

I know we are privileged to be able to go away from our daily lives for 3 weeks to do this experience. Life was simple: we trekked from point A to point B each day, handled issues related to food, tea, toilet paper (very important), charging devices, showering (or not), and the logistics of sleeping (layers, liner, sleeping bag, hot water bottle). We had minimal or no reception, and no internet access. We took in the views, chatted with real people in real time, and learned about real things.

And then we returned to our world full of meetings, emails, and all kind of preoccupations. Personally for me, the biggest shock was to visit Twitter after a long absence. Even before the trip I was not very active, juggling grant applications and prepping for the trip. As soon as I re-entered, I felt in a vortex of personal opinions swirling around about pretty much anything, amplified either in favor or against, and endless discussions of minutia clogging my timeline. I fled.

As the days pass since my return, I hold on to images and moments of stillness and peace whenever I feel the urge to be outraged about something coming up. I do not plan to leave Twitter because of Musk’s takeover but I am not gritting my teeth in preparation of some social media debacle. I know I have met a lot of lovely people using Twitter, and I love learning from them and communicating with them that way. But I am not losing sleep about it. We’ll be in touch in one way or another. Namaste!

In any case…

My Insta is bio_prof (it has tons of Nepal pictures)

My friend Gizeh’s insta is @gizehtenorio (also lots of Nepal pictures) and Twitter is @Gizpe

The company that organized our trip was check them out. They offer a lot of different options (trekking mountaineering, retreats etc). They also post a lot of pictures on IG.

The insta of our guide Anand Sharma is @anandsharma3833 and his youtube channel is

Taste of the views. Approaching Lungden, near Renjo Pass.