Meet Wayne, the senior who danced his way up the Himalaya
Updated: Feb 8, 2018
Have you ever imagined trekking 12 days and over 5,500 meters with a complete stranger who happens to bare the same age as your grandparents. Well I didn't either, until I met Wayne.
Back in December of 2014, I decided to trek through the Himalayan mountain range in a frigid pursuit of challenge, adventure, and of course to reach the highest peak possible that would allow me to experience the phenomena of Mt. Everest.
What started as a tumultuous semi-solo trek with my fellow Sherpa, quickly evolved into what would be the start of an unlikely friendship over icy passes and some of the most beautiful and challenging landscapes.
I was four days into valley crossings, large boulders and dilapidated cable bridges when I stumbled across Wayne. He was dancing and singing his way up a steep 20 m rock path that zigzagged until we reached a large evergreen foliage ledge that would lead us towards target elevation for the day.
He was exuberant, colourful, and danced like no one was watching, but everyone was watching to glance over at the crazy man who was lightening the moods of many going uphill. Out of breath, I hurried my pace to catch-up to this man of wonder. After chatting for the next few hours we quickly bonded and became friends, our Sherpa's too became friends, and we would continue onward together until we reached our goal to Kala Pattar.
Walking with Wayne was the best company I could ever ask for through some of the most physically and mentally challenging moments of the journey up. His open minded, free spirited energy, and innocent but crude old man jokes made my stomach laugh when my lungs were out of air. His giving spirit throughout small villages made him a superhero, I tugged this aged celebrity along steep passes when he felt like he couldn't continue any further, and he did the same for me. We swayed old hanging bridges side to side, had late nigh dance parties with locals, made snow angels, and etched our names into the prayer flags that marked the summit of our destination.
When we reached our summit, we hugged each-other, our Sherpas, and celebrated our achievements with a Mars Bar. As we quietly stared into the great south face of Everest, it was unbelievable how close we were. I couldn't help but notice how small it looked in comparison to it's neighbouring peaks, how small we as people in the grandeur scheme of nature.
Being there in that moment, I had realised that this whole journey wasn't about reaching the top and it wasn't about Everest. It was about every breath that hurt to take on the way up, the blisters, the fatigue, the altitude headaches. It was about watching the rushing blue rivers turn into glaciers, climbing far above the tree-line, catching every single sunrise, and walking foot to foot with some of the worlds most remote villagers. It was about getting the chance to meet Wayne and share our time together with our heads high above the clouds of the infinite sky and our feet planted firmly on the ground, yet somehow on top of the world.
To this day Wayne and I are still great friends, we write each other emails, letters, and still adventure together. Age is but a mindset.