The MountainWorld Blog by Jake Norton

The MountainWorld Blog by Jake Norton

Twenty-two years ago, I walked nervously down a dusty dirt track bound for a village and a family and a life I could barely understand. I was just starting my semester abroad with @sitstudyabroad in #Nepal, and we were entering a village homestay. My family's house was a modest one, perched on a lush, gentle ridge in #Kavre-Palanchok, built of stacked stone with timber framing, "skinned" with ochre mud stucco in the #Newar tradition for the area. I remember stopping down to enter the main room on the ground floor, heart thumping with nerves, wondering how I was going to fit in, to communicate, to jigsaw into this new world. But, my fears were immediately assuaged by the smiles...deep, profound, sincere smiles arcing above clasped hands of #Namaste, the smiles of my village family, Ram Gopal Shrestha and his wife, Sita...smiles which immediately told me I was welcome, that what little was theirs was mine as well, that all would be alright. It was one of the most intense, profound, and impactful few weeks of my life. Today, I walked back through that doorway for the first time in 22 years. The smiles were still there...but now with a few more wrinkles, a few less teeth, and the wear and tear of years of subsistence agriculture, village life, and loss. Ram Gopal and Sita's house - my house - is barely standing. The #NepalQuake of 2015 shook the earth too much, torqued the stone walls and caved in some, cracked others, dropped ceilings onto floors and walls onto the road. "Ke garne?" was all Ram said. "What to do?" indeed. There is little a poor family like theirs can do, except move their salvageable possessions into the small tent they now call home, try to stay dry through the monsoon, and hope the government's promises funds to rebuild come through, and hope it's enough. And they are not alone: many houses in #Syampati and #Dapcha likewise collapsed, and it's a story played out almost a millionfold across the countryside of central Nepal. Now it's time for me to #HelpCarryTheLoad.

Twenty-two years ago, I walked nervously down…

Twenty-two years ago, I walked nervously down a dusty dirt track bound for a village and a family and a life I could barely understand. I was just starting my semester abroad with @sitstudyabroad in #Nepal, and we were entering a village homestay. My family’s house was a modest one, perched on a lush, gentle ridge in #Kavre-Palanchok, built of stacked stone with timber framing, “skinned” with ochre mud stucco in the #Newar tradition for the area. I remember stopping down to enter the main room on the ground floor, heart thumping with nerves, wondering how I was going to fit in, to communicate, to jigsaw into this new world. But, my fears were immediately assuaged by the smiles…deep, profound, sincere smiles arcing above clasped hands of #Namaste, the smiles of my village family, Ram Gopal Shrestha and his wife, Sita…smiles which immediately told me I was welcome, that what little was theirs was mine as well, that all would be alright. It was one of the most intense, profound, and impactful few weeks of my life.
Today, I walked back through that doorway for the first time in 22 years. The smiles were still there…but now with a few more wrinkles, a few less teeth, and the wear and tear of years of subsistence agriculture, village life, and loss. Ram Gopal and Sita’s house – my house – is barely standing. The #NepalQuake of 2015 shook the earth too much, torqued the stone walls and caved in some, cracked others, dropped ceilings onto floors and walls onto the road. “Ke garne?” was all Ram said. “What to do?” indeed. There is little a poor family like theirs can do, except move their salvageable possessions into the small tent they now call home, try to stay dry through the monsoon, and hope the government’s promises funds to rebuild come through, and hope it’s enough. And they are not alone: many houses in #Syampati and #Dapcha likewise collapsed, and it’s a story played out almost a millionfold across the countryside of central Nepal.
Now it’s time for me to #HelpCarryTheLoad. #dailylifenepal #dailylifeasia #nepalphotoproject #liveyouradventure #nepaliloveyou @jibanghimire

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“Since the earthquake, our lives are much…

“Since the earthquake, our lives are much harder,” she said, in a vast understatement. The twinkle in her eye and the quintessential South Asian head wobble suggested that she, like so many Nepalis, would weather the current storm with dignity and strength. I knew it would be like this to return to #Nepal post-earthquake, but that hasn’t dampened the surreality of it all. Nepalis have always been masters at dealing with the trials and tribulations of fate; life in this financially-impoverished #Himalayan nation demands it, rife as it is with challenges. So, when the earth shakes, buildings crumble, and life is upended completely, most Nepalis have done the only thing one can do when there’s no alternative: they’ve simply gotten on with life. They walk over piles of broken bricks to do morning #puja, past teetering walls to get to work, step over downed wires and broken pipes to do their shopping. And, they still smile, still laugh, still live – perhaps even more than before. It’s certainly much harder, and the future is uncertain as rebuilding is just beginning. But, life goes on, and Nepalis thus far are moving on with their typical grace and strength. #nepaliloveyou #nepalquake #HelpCarryTheLoad #nepalphotoproject #everydaynepal #everydayasia

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Sometimes when we #travel, there are places…

Sometimes when we #travel, there are places that grab us…they inexplicably touch our hearts, minds, and souls, perhaps connecting to some long lost (or forgotten) realm of our consciousness. These places draw us back, again and again, despite the hardships and challenges faced in getting there or while being there. #Nepal is such a place for me. From my first visit, 23 years ago, I was hooked, connected to the place and the people, the rich tapestry of culture and history, the brilliant fresco of tortured geography and active geology. I’m sad for the deep and profound losses my second home has faced (and continues to face) in these past months, but am excited to be returning to a nation, place, and people that have shaped me more than much else. And, with luck, perhaps I can provide a little help and make even just one tomorrow brighter. | In this photo, prayer flags flutter in the dwindling twilight in front of #Kangtega, #Khumbu. #HelpCarryTheLoad #nepaliloveyou #nepalquake #liveyouradventure

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Hard to believe this no-longer-little girl turned…

Hard to believe this no-longer-little girl turned 8 today. How the years zip by! She’s becoming quite a person, inspiring (and challenging) us in great ways every day. Happy Birthday, Lila! #notlittleanymore #timeflies #liveyouradventure @wendebvalentine

#SquareInstaPic

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“Western laziness consists of cramming our lives…

“Western laziness consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time at all to confront the real issues.” – #Sogyal #Rinpoche. | Here, Tibetan #Buddhist prayer flags flutter at sunset near Namo Buddha Monastery, #Syampati, #Nepal. Always good to remind ourselves of our laziness, and find the time to slow down…and think about the truly important in life. #sogyalrinpoche #quotes #quotations #everydaynepal #everydayasia

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Hope you find some #curiosity in your…

Hope you find some #curiosity in your weekend! | In this photo, two #Macaroni #penguins on West Point Island in the #Falklands try to figure out what my camera does and why it’s in their faces. Macaronis get their common name from the bright crest feathers. 19th century sailors in the area thought the crests were reminiscent of flamboyant Victorian gentlemen who would – as in “Yankee Doodle” – stick a feather in their caps and be called macaroni. #yankeedoodle #liveyouradventure #falklandislands

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In December, 2012, I was able to…

In December, 2012, I was able to go climbing in New Zealand with @davidcmorton, @charley.mace, and Brent Bishop. One of the best mornings was this one, when we awoke terrain at 5 a.m. thinking that our plans to climb #Aspiring were done. At the last possible moment, the clouds parted, we hopped in a helicopter, had a great blitz of Aspiring’s aesthetic Southwest Ridge, and we’re back in #Wanaka by dinner. On the flight out, I was able to snap a fun shot showing the braided, glacial rivers flowing through the New Zealand countryside – a stunning end to a perfect day. #tbt @eddiebauer #liveyouradventure #aerial #newzealand #nz

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Traffic jam high above the #Karnali River…

Traffic jam high above the #Karnali River in #Humla, #Nepal. Very excited to return soon to Nepal to film and work in this magical country that has so shaped my life and career. Looking forward to helping even a little with rebuilding in the wake of the #NepalQuake and sharing the beauty and mystery of the country – both remote and accessible – with people far and wide. #nepaliloveyou #liveyouradventure #buildbackbetter

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Mukunda Bahadur Shrestha became the first official photographer of the Nepal Tourism Department and spent the 70s and 80s traveling across Nepal, photographing landscapes, cultures and people presenting Nepal to the rest of the world through postcards, brochures, posters and travel magazines. This is one of Shrestha’s favourite photos. Here, three young children pose for the camera in Tarkeghyang village, in the Helambu region northeast of Kathmandu. The wave-like peaks and dips of the Himalayas in the background is mimicked in the way the children stand and sit on an uneven wall, their eyes wide with curiosity and disbelief.

Buy an Historic Print, and Support Nepal’s Reconstruction!

As a photographer and lover of Nepal – its history, its legacy, and its future – I jump anytime I …

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#tbt to early September, 2013. @davidcmorton stands…

#tbt to early September, 2013. @davidcmorton stands beneath the sweeping faces of the #Bhagirathi peaks on the #Gangotri Glacier. David, @pedromcbride, and I were there to follow the #Ganges River from upmost source to sea, document its beauty and its suffering, and tell its story in photo and film. At this point, the Ganges is known as the Bhagirathi, after the fabled king who urged #Shiva to release the #Ganga waters from the heavens so he could perform rituals for his ancestors. The Gangotri Glacier flows with the first waters of this mighty river, which flows from its snout at #Gaumukh, or Cow’s Mouth. The Bhagirathi joins the #Alaknanda River below #Tehri Dam, and the Ganges officially forms there at #Devprayag. The river goes on to flow some 1500 miles across the heartland of north #India, its waters irrigating a full 1/3 of India’s land, and providing physical and spiritual sustenance to roughly 500 million people. It’s an amazing river, revered and reviled, dammed, diverted, and sometimes utterly destroyed. Our film about the river is coming along well, and we’re looking forward to having it complete soon. Stay tuned. #liveyouradventure @eddiebauer @natgeo @microsoftusa #surface @madhav108a @ashleymosher @everydayasia @everydayindia

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