Just about two weeks after having left base camp and the cold, I am back in Islamabad, where temperatures are currently soaring up to about 45 C. Life happens so fast sometimes and my Lhotse expedition, which I utterly enjoyed, seems so far away when I ride my bike through the Pakistani capital.
It is good to be back though and I feel very welcome not only amongst my friends here but also amongst the security guards, who gave me a huge smile when they saw me on my bike on Saturday. “Madame, you not here for long time,” some of them said and despite the fact that Pakistan gets a lot of bad press, people in Islamabad are very lovely and welcoming. It is just nice to see the smile on their faces when they recognise the ‘mad woman’ on the bicycle.
My two weeks in Kathmandu were filled with seeing friends, interviewing mountaineering expeditions for Miss Hawley and just reflecting on my trip, which showed me yet again, how much I enjoy being in the mountains. “Billi, you look so happy on all of your pictures that were taken in the hills,” my friend Roz said when I met her in Islamabad. And I guess the reason for this is that I am generally happy when I am up there – whether I make it to the summit or not. Of course, I am very pleased that I reached the top of Lhotse, however, it was not only the summit that made me so happy.
I felt the best I had ever felt on an expedition and I guess the reason for this is that one needs to get used to climbing 8,000m peaks. Even the summit picture is much better than the previous ones as I remembered to take off my oxygen mask and my glacier goggles. “Finally we can see it is actually you on the summit,” my friends said.
This makes me think about future projects, however, nothing is really planned yet. For the moment I am here in Pakistan and I will be leading a trip to K2 base camp, which starts on 19 June. I am very excited about it as it will just round up my time in Pakistan as I had always felt bad for never really having seen the Baltoro Glacier and the Karakorum. The trek will take around 20 days and afterwards I will be flying to India, where I am leading an expedition to a 6,666m peak in Lhadak.
Until then, I wish you all a great summer (or winter if you happen to be in the southern hemisphere) with lots of activities and great weather!