Naya Kanga, May 2018
The top of Naya Kanga (5863m) was a miserable place — our summit push was a race against a brewing storm, which by the time we reached the summit, was all ready to spill over. That meant that we did not have much time to stop to catch our breaths, or to eat and drink. We weren’t even awarded with a decent view.
From the top of Naya Kanga. The white-out reduced our visibility to just 30m.
It took a stupendously long adventure to reach this place. The team was formed four months prior, and in those four months we met four times each week to train for this expedition. It was hundreds of klicks running, thousands of reps of crunches, pushups, squats and endless flights of stairs that only got harder as the weeks rolled on.
Our first training together in January, we are all a bit slimmer now.
Our training program culminated in a ‘MIR Challenge’, which marked the end of our preparation for the climb. The ‘MIR Challenge’ is a series of challenges designed by the MIR17 Exco to test the team’s technical and physical competency and our mental grit. And test us it certainly did – I do not reminisce this day fondly…
Doing rounds around the track for the MIR challenge.
The Naya Kanga team and those who helped organize the MIR Challenge i.e. our tormentors.
On 14th May 2018, the 8 of us left Kathmandu and the comfort of civilization to embark on our expedition to summit Naya Kanga. The week-long trek started at a quaint little town called Syafrubesi and led us through villages and earthquake rubble before arriving at Kyanjin Gumba, the last guesthouse before we departed into the ruggedness and enigma of the Himalayas. Here, we received a very surprising welcome gift by our guides to mark the ‘start’ of the TMC. Some of us were already worn to the bone at this point.
Our ‘Welcome’ gift was a cake! Baked at 3500m! Also, testament to the how well our cooks fed us throughout the journey.
The bus we rode on to Langtang National Park. Thank God I bought insurance.
Trekking through Langtang Valley.
Refueling after another grueling day of trekking at one of the lovely guesthouses we stayed in.
After a day of acclimatization and technical climbing revision, we were off into the mountains. The terrain grew wilder and less hospitable the deeper and higher we ventured, and almost all of us took turns succumbing to the altitude. But proudly and bravely, we all managed to complete our training in ice and snow craft and reach the advance camp (5200m) after one week.
At our base camps.
We woke up at 1a.m. on 28th May to make our push for the summit of Naya Kanga. The skies have been relentlessly dumping snow and ice on us for the entire day prior and threatened to keep us in our tents for another day with a dying supply of food and potable water. But the skies miraculously cleared up for just long enough for us to make a safe ascent, so we hurried out of our sleeping bags, squirmed into our frozen boots, roped up and started on the most punishing 17 hours of our lives.
The last photo I took before it truly got ‘real’.
The way up was so steep that we spent most of the climb on all fours, punching and stomping into waist-deep snow. Unfortunately, not all of us made it to the summit, and the rest of the 6 of us barely did. The way down was even worse, as we had to race against avalanches and thus couldn’t even stop to get a sip of water.
Monika smiling but actually dying.
Micheal needed a new profile picture and crippling fatigue ain’t gonna stop me from helpin’ my buddy out.
Moments before the visibility went from 100 to 0 real quick.
When we returned from the summit, back in the toasty guesthouse at Kyanjin Gumba, we took turns sharing what made us embark on this expedition, and what we thought of it now that it was over. Yes, there was something about the mountains that inspired and appealed to all of us, but beyond that, we each had wildly different reasons for climbing – ambitions which were all deeply personal that we all clung onto when the going got truly tough (and it did, many, many times).
“it is not the mountains we conquer but ourselves”
– Edmund Hillary
I honestly cannot justify the tremendous amount of time, money, sweat and tears sunk into this expedition for ten minutes perched precariously on some unremarkable rock and ice, not with the non-existent view from the top or bragging rights. But the mountains are a truly special place – it forces the even strongest to their knees, beckons us to summon our deepest strength when we need it most, and invites us to contemplate over our ambitions and ourselves. For me, the summit of Naya Kanga was an ethereal place, not just because it was so far above the clouds, but because of what it represented to me.
Naya Kanga, Nepal
To my team:
Thank you for spending those three arduous weeks with me. Right now, as I am recollecting, it is not the bitter cold that I remember but the warmth of your company. I will always remember fondly how Teddy swooned over his new girlfriend, and how Micheal swooned over the girl that he plans to make his girlfriend, how the smile of Jermin’s face refused to wear off even as the fatigue set in, Monika’s uncompelling arguments for why Norway is better than Sweden, Evan’s death-defying, heroic climb up the last 30m of the summit, how Kelvin spent almost the entire trip trying to tame a stray dog and how Lakshmi bravely fought back her tears as she crossed her breaking point. Most importantly, I’ll remember how I should always hesitate to trust any of you (reference to our daily Avalon sessions). Thank you for inspiring me and egging me on, I could not have done this without all of you.
The 2018 Summer TMC team consisted of:
Nicholas (Team Leader)