From the Rockies to the Himalayas
SUMMIT DAILY NEWS
For those who got their first dose of the alpine environment in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, who grew up hearing songs about the beauty of the Rockies and who have lived part or all of their lives in or near them, it is hard to imagine any other mountain range could be as spectacular.
When she had conquered all of Colorado’s highest peaks, avid hiker and Dillon resident Barbara Campbell went to find out for herself.
Two years ago, she began traveling, quite literally to new heights, her love of hiking taking her to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and into the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal.
“The Rockies are gorgeous too. I couldn’t imagine that there was anything that was as pretty, but it is beautiful there,” Campbell said of the Himalayas. “There are so many mountain peaks that you’re looking at at one time from any view point.”
The Himalayan Mountains in Nepal, where Campbell spent three weeks hiking with friends in November, rise to a little over 29,000 feet at the peak of Mount Everest, roughly double the highest elevation in Colorado.
Nepal, a small, land-locked country wedged between China and India, is home to eight of the world’s 10 highest peaks.
“Nepal is breathtaking, it’s a beautiful place,” Campbell said. “I found it astounding … you’re at probably 16,000 feet and you’re just being dwarfed by all these peaks.”
Though the mountains lose elevation and become more lush further south in India, Nepal’s Himalayas don’t have nearly as many trees as the Rockies, Campbell said.
Uncensored wood burning throughout the country has left much of the landscape barren and reforestation efforts have been limited due to the country’s poverty.
The Himalayas are also more populated than the Rockies, particularly at higher elevations, Campbell said.
“Going from village to village as you make your way to the base of some of the mountains, you’re on, sometimes it’s a cobble stone path, and you’re passing, just a highway of people,” Campbell said. “You’re climbing 14ers (in Colorado) and a lot of times you don’t bump into anybody.”
Without a system of roads in the higher elevations, people who live in the Himalayas travel on foot to get the supplies they need.
Campbell’s group hiked through the Himalayas, but decided not to make the treacherous trek to the top of Mt. Everest. Campbell recalled seeing the dangerous ice-falls on the glaciers of the mountain from the base camp and the memorials to the 200 or so people who have died attempting the climb.
Campbell began hiking in 2003 and immediately loved it. The following year she climbed 20 14ers, learning as she went and making friends with other climbers around the state.
Within a few years, she ran out of peaks in Colorado and began looking for a new challenge.
So in February of 2009 she and some friends from the Colorado Mountain Club booked a trip to Tanzania, to tackle Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.
“That was an incredible hike,” Campbell said. “Totally different from Nepal.”
The climb to the top of Kilimanjaro led Campbell and her group through a range of landscapes, from the rainy cloud jungle near the base up to the glacier terrain near the summit. The trip included days of rain and high winds, but Campbell said reaching in the top and seeing the glaciers at sunrise with clear skies was worth the tough trek.
The group followed the climb with an African safari.
Campbell said she plans to continue her tour of the world’s peaks. She said Mt. Rainier in Washington might be next on the list.
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