We trudged on in the darkness until the morning sun began to peak over the horizon. Slowly it cleared the peaks to the northeastern slope and as it did it threw a gorgeous orange light on the higher mountains to the west. And again “Oh My God!” spilled over my lips. When you’re travelling at this altitude so far from the modern world, your senses are heightened and your comprehension of the natural beauty around you consumes your body and you tend to walk in a trance finding it hard to release your gaze from the mountain’s glow. We pushed on through the morning light which by now had illuminated the entire mountain range in spectacular fashion.
At 10am the trail curved around a sizable snow mound and then suddenly disappeared over the ridge line. The mountains on either side fell away leaving only blue sky beyond. We were at the top of the pass. We had made it. A small tea house displaying multiple sets of prayer flags from its roof was a sharp contrast to the stark white-gray and brown of the surrounding mountains. After congratulating my trekking mates, Michael and I climbed the final 100 feet to the geological top of the pass.
Inspired by the moment and entranced by the surrounding beauty, I stripped naked, spread my arms to embrace the now visible Dhalagiri Range and heard the click of Michael’s camers. (Photo available in a month or so–$19.95 plus handling charges).
When asked later by Georgie if this was a tradition in mountain climbing, I could only reply “it is now”. I was also flattered by two young Aussies we’d been climbing with the last few days. They said “Oh man, when we saw you get naked, we’d wished we had thought of it first”. And they added later to Jenny, “Our respect for your OLD MAN really went up after seeing him do that”.