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Kathmandu: A Home Away From Home

Two mountaineers navigating a glacier on a Gasherbrum II Expedition
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After having led more than 30 expeditions and treks in Nepal over the past 15 years, I think I can finally claim Nepal as my second home. It’s not all the equipment I store here that makes it a home (although I do have 30 or so duffle bags and blue barrels of gear stashed in my friend’s houses here in Kathmandu and in the Khumbu). Nor is it my familiarity with the streets, markets, and alleyways that make up the maze of a city that is Kathmandu. Nepal is a home to me because of the friends and family I have here. I have shared so many of the most powerful moments of my life here in Nepal. These moments have been good and bad, mundane and staggeringly powerful. I have guided some of the biggest mountains in the world, rope-fixed to the summit of Everest, and skied from the summit of an 8000-meter peak. I have also lost partners to climbing accidents here, experienced the death of friends too many times here, watched one of my most important business and personal relationships with one of my closest friends fall apart here, and participated in the demise of a marriage from here. My commitment to Nepal, climbing, and guiding has taken a lot from me, but always given me as much or more as well. 

The most important thing Nepal and climbing has given me, and why I feel at home when I arrive here into the smog and chaos of Kathmandu, is the friendships I have formed here. It is no exaggeration to say we trust our lives to each other when we climb in the big mountains. And this trust and support goes far beyond climbing. My community here supports me when I have successes, and when I blow things up with a mistake. Even when their judgement is harsh, I know my team here is still going to be with me for the next chapter, just like my biological family. It is this support that encourages me to try big things with climbing, life, and business. And it is this support that welcomes me home every time I land here.

To all the people that make Nepal, and Tahoe, homes of mine, thank you! I can’t wait for the next round of adventures and experiences.

-Adrian Ballinger, Founder and Head Guide, Alpenglow Expeditions