In April of this year I spent three weeks in the Everest region working as a porter on the legendary trail to Base Camp. I ate with the porters, slept in their lodges and lugged a full porter load of 35 kilograms up to Gorak Shep, which sits in the shadows of giant peaks and is the highest settlement along the route. I walked for up to 8 hours each day in hot and dusty conditions. By the second day my calves were sore, my shoulders hurt and both feet were in a bit of a mess. And I had a horrible sore spot develop on the base of my spine. I seriously questioned my sanity as to what I was doing there.
There were two motives behind the project. Firstly, I wanted to shine a light on the hard work that the porters do to support the dreams of trekkers to get high into the Himalayas and, secondly, I wanted to see if I as a relatively fit 51-year-old bloke could cope with the rigours of the work. I made it somehow and come back with a greater respect for the people who are the backbone of the mountain economy. With the nearest road four days below Lukla, start of the Everest trail for most trekkers, most of the material that goes up is carried on the back of the thousands of porters from the region.
The idea came to me as a dream whilst I was leading a trek two years ago in Limi, a time-static valley nudged up into the far west of Nepal.