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Tragedy in the Himalayas

by Shaun Kober
November 5th 2020
00:10:16
Description

This time six years ago I was hiking the Annapurna circuit in Nepal. Just a couple of days prior to flying to Nepal, a freak blizzard hit and hordes of hikers got caught at Thorung La pass at 5416m... More

yo, what is up guys, welcome to today's episode of the lift transform podcast. I'm your host, Sean koba. Today's episode is going to be short and sharp because I am recording this at 945 on Wednesday night, I'm currently On a three week road trip around Thailand and I've stopped off in a little place called Pettibone so I can have a couple of days to do some admin, do my laundry record this episode. I also edited an episode that I did an interview that I did with luke Richmond, which will be dropping on monday. So stay tuned for that episode. We had a really good conversation and one of the things that we spoke about is that shift happens in life and you know, he's an ex military guy and one of the mantras that we had while we were in the army was adapt, improvise and overcome. Um so I'm currently on that three week road trip around Thailand and on saturday I was in Bangkok playing in a rugby tournament and it was a national sevens rugby tournament Over two days and I tore my hamstring on The first game, the first day, five minutes in which put me out for the tournament unfortunately, but it is what it is, I'm not going to dwell on it and you know, obviously I'm currently going through this road trip that's been going to affect where I can go and what I can do, but it's not going to affect the overall plan, it's going to affect some of the minor plans.

Um so something that luke and I spoke about is that when people set goals, they expect it to be smooth sailing, they expect things to just fall into place and that is never the case. So when it comes to making plans, when it comes to goal setting, you should have an overview of where you want to go and what you want to do. But then that's the big picture stuff, but then you've got the smaller picture stuff that, you know, you need to tick off the list to achieve those big overarching goals and it's the small things, it's a small actions, it's small behaviors that actually contribute to that overall plan. And sometimes you're going to need to make changes to those small plans. You're gonna need to make changes to those small actions and behaviors that you're doing on a day to day basis to um still achieve the overall plan, but move you in the right direction. So going back to what I was saying before, you know, I've got this overview of what I want to do in Thailand on this three week road trip, but now that I've got a torn hamstring that's going to affect my ability to hike.

So some of the hikes that I was Looking at, you know, the big four to six hour hikes are big peaks and things like that. I'm not going to be able to do them anymore. So I'm going to need to make some adjustments here and you know this is something that people face in life. We set these big audacious goals and we expect it to be smooth sailing along the way and that's never the case. So again we need to adapt, improvise and overcome and your ability to um be disciplined in working towards what you need to do and putting those small actions and behaviors into practice every single day. Yes, they are going to add up but you also need to be flexible and you need to make adjustments and you need to change the plan as you go to still keep those big overarching goals in your sights but to keep you moving in the right direction. Now one of the best examples that I can give of this is a trip that I did to the Himalayas about six years ago, I love the facebook memories function because it reminds me of where I was and what I was doing at certain times in my life.

And I was just reminded at the start of This week that six years ago in 2014 I had just finished a hike around the Himalayas, the Annapurna circuit in particular in Nepal And that was a 12 day hike and I started that hike with my then girlfriend and one of my best mates now about two or three days before we were due to fly out for Kathmandu in Nepal, a blizzard actually hit the Himalayas and it was out of season, the hiking season had just started. So it was the best weather to go hiking and it was an uncharacteristic blizzard that hit the Himalayas and Unfortunately 43 people lost their lives. And we had a discussion, we were already planned to fly into Kathmandu and we had that discussion of fuck, we need to change our plans, we need to do something else, we need to cancel our trip and look at other options. Now. I'm the type of guy who looks at the world through probabilities and I crunched the numbers after doing some research and I looked at how likely it was for something like that to happen at that time of the year and it was super unlikely and that's why so many people lost their lives because they, it was the start of the hiking season and that was when the good weather is starting and the snow on the ground had dissipated and the tracks were fairly clear but that's also why people lost their lives because there was a number of people that was hordes of hikers that were on throng La Pass that um basically as a blizzard hit they got pushed into these tea houses and a number of people were suffering from altitude sickness and a number of people, I think there's some guides included decided to make the call that they need to push down the mountain to get these people off the mountains, they could deal with altitude sickness, but because it was uncharacteristic um whether for that time of the year, they didn't think that the storm was going to be very bad.

So they pushed on and unfortunately they made a bad call and again, 43 people lost their lives, but that was very unfortunate circumstances. But again, I played the probability game and I was like, well, chances of that happening twice a very fucking low. So we actually decided to push on and continue that hike and we're actually passing people on the way Up to the summit. I think it took us about 10 days to summit. We're still passing people on the way up to the summit that had turned around and were coming down because they had flights booked to Leave Nepal within a couple of days and they've been stuck in a couple of days shy of the Throng pass at 5416 m and if they waited any longer then they were going to miss their flights. So basically the past got cut off, a lot of people lost their lives. They were launching a rescue effort to get people off the mountain and recover bodies and things like that.

So it was pretty terrible experience for those people that were obviously going through that. However, our experience was almost the opposite because of that tragedy. Um there was nobody on the past, there was nobody on the trail and you know, typically you'd Have 2-400 people on the trail every single day, but we literally didn't pass anyone or you know, we barely saw anyone because so many people have changed their plans and as unfortunate as it was for that tragedy to unfold and for so many people to lose their lives, it made it an incredible experience for us and I know that sounds like a really shitty thing to say, but I'm a realist and that's how it was. Um there was nobody on the trail, the weather was incredible, obviously that um blizzard had dumped a funk load of snow, so you know, we were hitting snow at far lower altitudes than was characteristic for that time of the year, all of the mountain peaks with snow covered and you know, it was an absolute tragedy that so many people lost their lives and I definitely felt for all those people.

Um but you know, it is what it is and that is chaos theory, you literally the old sliding doors butterfly effect, right? Like you know, you might be having your fucking worst day and someone else is having their best day or vice versa. You know, there's not much you can do about that, but what you can do is experience things for what they are and be grateful for, you know, the position that you're in and I'm grateful that I wasn't on that mountain that day, I'm not sure who knows what would happen if I was on the mountain that day when that blizzard hit because I myself personally did suffer from altitude sickness even though the weather was great whilst we were hiking. I mean we did the past about two weeks after that blizzard hit. By the time we actually landed in Kathmandu did the 10 day hike up to the pass, It was about two weeks after that blizzard hit that we went through there and the weather was amazing, but I did suffer from altitude sickness and I was fun, but I had to push really hard to get down the mountain.

So if I was in that situation on that day, would I have pushed into the storm to get down the mountain to, you know, stop myself from suffering from altitude sickness, which in itself can be deadly, then maybe I would have been in that situation as well, but who knows, it's not something I'm going to dwell on, not something I will speculate on. Um I'm grateful for the experience that I had there, I'm obviously, you know, I was upset about the tragedy of the amount of people who lost their lives and even when I was stumbling down the mountain, if anyone's ever had altitude sickness, you know, it's a horrible thing to have and I was literally stumbling down the mountain, like I was drunk, my body fat percentage was probably too low. I probably had too much muscle mass and my muscles were just screaming for oxygen. The more muscle mass you have, the more oxygen you require. And I was hurting really bad. So, you know, if I was in that situation, I probably would have done the same thing. Um, so anyway, I'll leave that there.

That's it for me today, guys, stay tuned for my episode with luke Richmond on monday piece.

Tragedy in the Himalayas
Tragedy in the Himalayas
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