Skardu

Two months ago today, I flew from Islamabad to Skardu, stepping away from civilization and closer to the mountain ... 

June 21, 2018

After breakfast we began our departure from the beautiful Serena Hotel, which is full of shimmering chandeliers and thick rugs and smells like perfume.  I am very aware that my accommodations and comfort are going to rapidly decline, for the next 5 or 6 weeks I won’t have the luxury of crisp sheets on a cozy bed, or a warm shower.  I will miss all of it, but giving up these comforts will make me appreciate them more when I return.  Even though it was only 8 am, I was already hot and sweating when I carried my duffel bags outside the hotel.  I stood in the shade and watched the men work,  carefully loaded all of our luggage into and on top of mutiple passenger vans.    

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While I waited, I spoke to a man named Umar, who was in Islamabad on a business trip.  Umar trekked to K2 base camp several years ago.  He described his experience as the most transformational of his life, and told me that I would learn things about myself that I didn't know.  His final advice when he handed me his business card was not to give up until I was transformed.  What will I be like when this is all over?  Different?  It's impossible to know at this point, and I'm grateful for conversations like this one with Umar because they start out random but mean so much to me.

We met the Sherpa team outside of the new Islamabad airport. Seeing their familiar, smiling faces feels so comforting to me.  I feel like I know these men so well, I know about their families and their villages and am excited to have the opportunity to climb with them again.  

"Welcome to Skardu"  That's what the man at the bottom of the airplane stairs, smiling and holding a rifle, said to me as I stepped onto the tarmac.  This has been my experience in Pakistan - contradictory. I could swim in the roof-top pool wearing a bikini, but was covered from head to toe otherwise.

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Despite those contradictions, I am happy to be here, and I am excited about the adventure that awaits me