Posted by: Walker Mackey | 2019/01/29

Nepal and the Western Disease

Kavu Days 34 (Hike, Fly and Romance in Nepal)

gptempdownloadSo, what do I think about Nepal? It’s a beautiful country. It all started when my friend Max told me he was headed to Nepal in October/November. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to join. Max is a National Geographic photographer and had been to Nepal several times before. His photos of epic Himalayan mountains and undeveloped culture captured my attention and I began planning in the free time I had in between work missions. Finally, the day came to board the Southern China double-decker jumbo jet and cast off to a foreign land. The goal was to hike and fly from the top of Mardi Himal at 4500 meters running up the mountain in alpine style. Max is fit. He’s got the Max Siegal super strides that pretty much triple an average man’s stride. I knew in order to keep up with him I was going to have to perform at my peak and take advantage of every opportunity possible. Power Film Solar

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Day 1- Way over my head… On the first day, the psyche was high. We hiked up to the launch together with Cody Tuttle. Cody is also a Nepalese veteran and experienced paraglider. Throughout the trip, he would be the one leading the charge and setting the standards for each day. Me being Walker and fighting an ego with nine heads in which each time you cut one off two more grow back in its place, wasn’t going to be left behind. There was no way. I had been thru more than most with all my wingsuit and climbing experience throughout the years and believed I was unique, talented and had good judgment. Why wouldn’t I. I mean I was the guy that had survived 8 years of wingsuit flying, several expeditions to Patagonia, and a career in professional skydiving. I was good, better than most and I knew how to survive. Somehow, I managed to work the house thermal up to 2600 meters and started traveling flying after the boys into the unknown of the Green Wall. I had been in Nepal for a total of less than 24 hours and I was venturing off chasing the experienced guys into the depth of the jungle. When I reached the Green Wall, I was low on the guys, scraping. With stubborn determination, I scraped like a desperate resin addict who couldn’t score. I had to stay with the guys. Prove something. Be someone. I was in lift and lift was everywhere, but as I cut the margins super close across a flatter plateau, I exited the small lift bubbles that were holding me up and I clipped a tree with the outside line. Instantly my glider dropped out of the sky and I was tumbling thru the jungle canopy. I fell at least 50 feet. Not in a freefall manor, but a backward slow-motion fall that wasn’t stopping. The only thing I could think was “protect your head and neck.” Before I could think anything else I landed on my ass and then rolled to my side contacting my head. It was soft. The jungle had eaten me and not just a little bit. I had somehow fallen all the way thru and bottomed out. Fully disappeared like magic. It took a second to pull myself together and process what had happened. The wing was lying next to me undamaged. How…?

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I put on some music and cried. I hadn’t’ cried in years. What really got me was a moment when I sent my brother a message telling him what had happened. His response was “you need to make good decisions.” An obvious piece of advice that we have constantly traded back in forth over the years on our quest to master human flight. I knew I had let him down. I had let my friends down, my family and most of all myself. Here I was in the middle of an undeveloped country in the middle of a jungle. No hospitals in miles and I was plummeting thru trees and impacting the ground. I honestly thought Max and Cody would never fly with me again. Of course, they were worried and not angry with me and we would continue to fly together throughout the trip on several other cross-country missions.

 

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What I loved about Nepal is the pureness and happiness of its people and the simplicity of life. Labor is a constant for these people. Straps across the head with loads of cement is a normal Monday morning for the Nepalese. Rice field tending is Tuesday and Wednesday is building brick structures in sandals. The manufacturing facilities are producing goods at the expense of child workers who get 2 dollars a day to sew clothing. Even with all this turmoil, they smile. That’s what I love about Nepal, the smiles. Toothy grins with brown, scattered and missing teeth. Kind eyes that droop with age and a life full of love.

 

 

Upon returning to the land of privilege I have found it a hard adjustment. A good friend asked me if I was calmer and less stressed upon my return from Nepal. My answer was no. As soon as I got back it was snap right back into the daily work missions and production mindset. The Nepalese people have the same stress as we do, except it’s on a different scale. The disease of humanity is our desire and need to produce, reproduce, do something with your life. “Be somebody.” In a world saturated with a constant assault of sales, advertising, and marketing we are hit at every angle. The constant exposure in this “developed” world to sales influence has shaped us into consumptive minions. Obediently, we submit to pressure from those who want to sell us stuff. We believe in this never-ending quest to achieve production and therefor intern become the pressure. Voicing our opinions out load we further the pressure of the capitalist and become part of their plan. We join the motion and encourage consumption. Half unknowingly and half blindly we push that pressure on our family and friends.

I am guilty of the same push. I want so badly to be successful that it is all I think about. Morning, day and night. Even in my dreams, I’m plotting ways to get Instagram followers. It’s a bit of a curse of my privileged lifestyle. I’m thankful for that curse. I’m lucky compared to some and to others, I have totally dropped the ball. Comparison is another source of turmoil in the capitalist world of consumption. The Hindu religion says we should never compare, but the capitalist constantly compares numbers to measure growth, achievement, and who is number 1. I’m not saying that one is better than the other. I certainly enjoy wealth and the benefits that come with it. I would not want to live like the Nepalese village people in straw huts. I did, however, appreciate the pace of life and the reconnection to the spiritual world that the experience of being surrounded by such poverty made me feel. It’s a big sea out there and I’m just a small fish. Always striving to learn more and become a better person.

 

 

Redemption came later in the trip when Max and I planned to do a vol biv flight fully loaded with equipment and food. The first step in the mission was to return to the Green Wall, the site that had eaten me alive and spit me out unscathed. It was nothing less than a scratch fest once again. I had to work the low lift, but eventually, I was pushed skyward and managed to leave the Green Wall at 2600 meters headed for Corchaun. Corchaun was an amazing adventure. That wall is massive! Huge jungle waterfalls pour off the back. It’s a far way away from our ultimate destination but produces really strong lift. Max and I worked the wall up to cloud base again and decided to push toward the campsite 360. We arrived high and top landed at 360 to a festival celebration of many local kids dancing and singing. It was unbelievable. A four-hour flight and 75K of deep big mountain air. I was absolutely in love with Nepal. Know I know that the possibility of doing huge flights in Nepal exists. I can’t wait to return.

 

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After our vol biv adventure, Max and I decided to run to Mardi from Pokhara. We achieved a 15.6 mile run with 9,200 ft. elevation gain in four hours and six minutes. We arrived at the high camp in a complete whiteout. I was absolutely blasted, but it was an amazing achievement and a great finish to the trip. We had to wait three days before the cloud cleared and we were able to fly. Bellow is a little video I managed to shoot before my camera died. The cold sucked all the battery life out of my equipment, but just before my go pro died I managed to pull off this shot. Your true character shows when you’re stuck in a tent for three days in a cloudy zero visibility mountain. It was a long wait, but I felt super happy to get off and the view was worth every moment. Thank you Nepal.

 

Kavu Days 34 Hike, Fly and Romance in Nepal


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