Melissa Arnot

My Adventures Blog

The official blog of Melissa Arnot

Valley of Gratitude

In the last six years of traveling through the Khumbu, I’ve only come to love it more. Someone recently asked me if I know how lucky I am. That’s hard to answer, but I do know that I start each day and end each day, especially days spent here, with a tremendous amount of gratitude. I’m thankful that I’vebeen lucky enough to see these mountains and these villages one time, let alone again and again. And that I’m lucky to have been given a perspective on what this place is all about. I walk a similar route in the Khumbu twice a year, yet it feels new each time. That’s what I love so much about the mountains. They provide you with something new, something unseen and special each time you journey forward. Leaving the Namche valley is always a change, but one I really like. I have many friends that live in the villages Read the full article…

Chaos into Calm

Arriving in the hustle and bustle that is Kathmandu always feels oddly comfortable. The cars, people, and animals all follow the same traffic rules, in that there aren’t any. I’ve been seeing a lot lately in the news about the regulations for climbers to carry down garbage on Everest this season. As I arrive in Kathmandu, I wonder if anyone will ever start to care about the trash that surrounds the homes, people and streets. But most of the people living here are just trying to get by, so the trash isn’t really their concern. My past few weeks prior to leaving for Nepal have been busy to say the least. Sometimes I feel like I am juggling eight jobs and chasing the ninth. I ran the Catalina Marathon on Saturday, spent a much needed and beautiful day with friends on Sunday, and then spent Monday with food poisoning, sick in an airport hotel prior Read the full article…

Melissa’s Mountain Training Tips

As I push uphill, I notice something is different. I’m not working nearly as hard as I have been for the last four weeks. It feels good. There is a grace, an ease, with how I can move under the weight of my pack. A small smile breaks across my face as I realize that my training is working, that I’m getting stronger. I’m in the middle of my pre-Everest training period and this is a great way to feel. The number one question I get asked is, “How do you train for climbing?” Well I’m going to answer that here, but I think it is worth mentioning that I train in a way that works for ME. I have my own set of strengths and weaknesses, which I have to take into consideration to be successful. My training is built around that. If you do exactly what I do, you most certainly won’t perform Read the full article…

EVERYTHING WEIGHS SOMETHING

One of the most challenging things about being a mountain guide is working with people who only care about getting the summit. I think most guides would agree with this. Our life’s work is the journey, the path, and the route. So anytime I get the chance to work with someone who shares this view, I leap at it. I grew up in Colorado, but I was a kid who was uninterested in the mountains then, so I was looking forward to traveling back to place of my upbringing with a new vision and appreciation for the mountains that had quietly shaped me. I landed in Durango, to familiar landscapes and a whole bunch of unfamiliar ones. The adventure had begun. We spent our first night in Colorado camping and getting ready for the morning. Kevin brought this trip together with his enthusiasm for new adventures, which I always appreciate. I laughed as we packed Read the full article…

The Promised Land

Sometimes my life seems to move slightly faster than I do. In this mismatch of movement, I tend to see things in a different way than usual. I closed my eyes and settled into my seat on the flight from Seattle, hoping to open them in a several hours for a brief view of Amsterdam before continuing on my way to Chamonix and 10 days of climbing. That happened, sort of. The flight to Europe doesn’t seem so long to me after all the years of traveling to Asia, a twisted benefit of so many hours spent on long flights. During the middle of this past Everest season, one of my friends from Europe told me that I had to come climb in the Alps. Of course I have always wanted to, but I’d always seemed too busy to get a trip together. After a few conversations with another friend, Damian Benegas, we made the Read the full article…

The Greatest Gift

Nimu is 14 years old. She has a big, beautiful smile and is eager to speak English with me. Her younger sister, Pasang, is 10 and has the same big eyes, but she hasn’t formed the outgoing nature her sister displays. They are beautiful young Sherpa girls, living in Kathmandu and going to boarding school, trying to pass all their exams so they can go to college. I’ve known these girls for almost four years, but today is the first day I’ve spent much time with them. Normally when I come on expeditions, they are in class and I can’t see them, but tomorrow is a holiday so they are free. Their father is Tshering Dorje, a Sherpa I’ve worked with almost every year since we first summitted together in 2008. Tshering and his wife Riku have brought the girls to meet me today. We sit in the lobby of the hotel for a few Read the full article…

Constant Movement

Arriving at the summit of Mount Everest at 7 a.m. on May 22 was a gift and a surprise. Normally, on the summit of mountains, I try not to feel too excited, as I know how much climbing remains ahead. But on this summit I felt excited and calm at the same time. It was a beautiful and warm day, with virtually no one climbing, perhaps 25 people from the south side. Our climb had started a few days before at Base Camp. After making one summit attempt on the 16th, it was difficult to find the motivation to go back up so soon. But on the morning of the 20th, we made our way through the icefall, past Camp I and into Camp II. For the first time all season, I stopped in a friend’s camp near my tent to have tea, trying to take my time and enjoy the walk. Early the next Read the full article…

Between a Memory and a Dream

I’m constantly living between a memory and a dream, a pause and a sprint. I’m very nostalgic about past times in my life. Songs, smells and even just thoughts catapult me backwards into a time when I knew so little, but wanted so much. In a way, now is a different version of that time. I find myself wading in the curiosity about the places I’ll go and how I’ll get there, even when I’ve been there before. Tomorrow I’ll leave Base Camp, again attempting to summit. The distance between here and there is ever changing. Sometimes, in my mind, it seems so close, and other times it’s a world away. And, really, it is. Experience cannot be measured by distance or time. They have a different weight altogether. I’m thankful for the opportunity to try new things or try old things that have become new again. As always, I’m sure I’ll learn something this Read the full article…

Wind, walking and what is next

There are many things I love about mountaineering. Most of them are obvious: the views, the sense of challenge and accomplishment, the interface with a natural world that makes its own rules. Some of the things I love are much deeper, more personal, and hard to articulate. Easier to articulate are the things I don’t love, such as getting pelted in the face with gravel-size ice chunks for five hours, wind that knocks you straight to your knees with no warning or falling into a crevasse at 8,000 meters at 2 in the morning. Watching the weather for the last few weeks, I’ve been attempting to make it fit my plan. That’s almost always a bad idea, as recently proven. It was my hope to try to summit twice this season. With that in mind, I chose to head up in a less-than-perfect weather window, thinking that I didn’t need it to be perfect, just Read the full article…

It Isn’t Obvious

Everest has become a part of the way I live my life. It has become my life. I have friends that I only see here. The way the icefall forms has become a regular part of my conversations. To climb here, you spend almost a month traveling on the lower slopes of this giant mountain. You go to Camp I, Camp II and eventually Camp III. But above there, it isn’t obvious. I have no illusions that a summit is guaranteed. I know what lies ahead is hard work and some luck. It doesn’t matter that I’ve been there before. Mount Everest doesn’t care. She decides on a minute-to-minute basis, and past experience only counts for so much. In 2011, I spent most of my spring Himalayan season on Makalu. It was a cold and windy expedition that ended without a summit. My partner, David Morton, and I then came to Everest. We were planning Read the full article…