by Kelly Cordes
I just returned from seven weeks in Pakistan, where I took a few notes:
[Hayden Kennedy in base camp, with K6 rising in the background. Photo: Kelly Cordes]:
• Getting from the States to Islamabad went smooth as silk. Best airline ever? Emirates. “Baller,” as Hayden put it. Side note: “Baller” is not, as I’d ignorantly guessed, a crude reference. Rather, it originally referred to great basketball players, usually inner city street kids who made it big, though it’s come to mean anything done well, and livin’ large. Emirates, baller. Definitely baller. The cheap seats are like friggin’ first class. “Um, ma’am, I think I might be in the wrong seat, but first class is way up front and I can see the back of the plane right there so I’m confused,” I said. “No sir, this is your seat. Would you like a hot towel and a drink?” Ummm, OK.
[Wait, so how’s this gonna work? Oh, I know: honk! Photo: Kelly Cordes]
[We found Kyle! Photo: Kelly Cordes]
[You can never be too careful in Pakistan! Kyle Dempster exercises extreme caution on a bridge. Photo: Kelly Cordes]
• People tend to be kind when you’re kind to them and respectful of their culture. Throughout the areas I’ve been in northern Pakistan, I’ve noticed that the default, without fail, is to first welcome you as a visitor. It’s then up to you, I suppose, how you choose to be.
• Personal stats from my four trips to Pakistan – aggregate months I’ve spent in Pakistan: seven. Number of “incidents” with people, or anything remotely close: zero. Number of political and religious discussions: dozens (people want to talk politics and religion everywhere you go). Number of those discussions that turned hostile: zero. Of course you can get yourself into trouble anywhere in the world, but to buy into the notion that an entire nation or religion could somehow be all “bad” is asinine beyond belief. More of my feelings on people, fear, and this Pakistan thing
[Hayden keeping an eye on his surroundings, but looking “suspecious.” Photo: Kelly Cordes]
[Trekking toward the Charakusa Valley. Photo: Kelly Cordes]
[The Nangma Valley, from the road to Hushe. Photo: Kelly Cordes]
• I don’t think Pakistan is especially renowned for its cuisine, though, and booze is mostly banned. When I arrived home, my special lady friend presented me with a bottle of damn fine tequila (apparently I’m not very complicated, because every gift I’ve received in the past several years is good tequila, and I love it every time), and made us a wonderful meal. After dinner, I promptly ate myself sick on a bag of Twizzlers. It’s good to be home.
• Climbing: Kyle and Hayden kicked ass. I got my ass kicked. More to come, but I wasn’t ready. My last surgery was in March, so maybe I should have known. Now I do. And still, damn it was great to be back in the mountains. I never tire of places so beautiful.
• Number of days, upon getting home, until my first marg in nearly two months: four. The wonders never cease.