Outdoor Focus Summer 2018 - Page 16

Wordsmith The Man with the World’s Best Job www.kevreynolds.co.uk Kev Reynolds meets Mr Fixit on the slopes of the Himalaya I f you’re planning to organise a Himalayan expedition you’d be advised to get yourself a Mr Fixit, someone who knows his way around the mind-numbing bureaucracy of the East; someone who can hire a reliable crew of Sherpas, cook and porters, find fuel when there’s no fuel to be had, and arrange a flight when all flights are booked; someone who knows who to know, where to go and what to do when things go wrong. And believe me, the one guarantee you can bet on in the Himalaya, is that something will go wrong. That’s when your Mr Fixit proves his worth. I found mine by sheer fluke.In the summer of 1994 I was making a crossing of the Ötztal Alps with my wife when we arrived one afternoon at the Braunschweiger Hut, perched on a rocky island on the edge of glaciers. Pushing open the boot room door the first person we saw was a Sherpa. I blinked twice, then gave him a Namaste. ‘Where are you from?’ I asked. ‘Kathmandu,’ he replied. ‘No – where’s your village?’ ‘In Solu district,’ he said. ‘Where in Solu district?’ ‘Some place called Junbesi.’ ‘Junbesi! Do you know Ang Chokpa?’ The Sherpa’s eyes popped - ‘How do you know Ang Chokpa?’ So I told him: ‘I stayed in his lodge last October!’ And with that Kirken Sherpa and I began a friendship that has lasted more than twenty years, during which time we’ve made numerous expeditions together, and I’ve come to recognise him as the ultimate Mr Fixit. Find yourself in a tight spot in a dodgy location, and there’s no-one better to be with; no-one better than he to find a solution to a problem; no-one more able to get you out of a hole, to turn disaster into triumph – as I know to my benefit. He once chartered a plane to fly eight of us to a remote meadow where we were met by our twenty-five man crew who had taken two weeks to get there: two days and nights on a broken down bus, then on foot for twelve days – after which we made our way into the real back-of-beyond on the northern side of the Himalayan divide. After ten days our doctor went sick and had to return to Kathmandu. No chance of a rescue helicopter where we were, but within an hour Kirken had organised his evacuation with porters and Sherpa escorts. All ended well. Another time we were heading for Kanchenjunga during the Maoist insurgency. Knowing our long bus journey to the trailhead was likely to be blocked by armed rebel gangs, he hired a tough Maoist supporter as our driver. As a result no road block held us up for more than ten minutes. At the end of the expedition we’d arranged for a plane to collect us from the Suketar airstrip – then just a sloping meadow above the Tamur River. Clouds were down on the allotted day and without being able to see the meadow, the pilot turned back. We hoped he’d return next day, but that night the heavens opened and the airstrip was waterlogged. No plane could possibly land on that, but we were due to fly home in 24 hours and tension was rising. Somehow Kirken got hold of a satellite phone and called a young helicopter pilot who owed him a favour. We made it out just in time… Kirken’s brother-in-law joined us once for a trek to Everest. Tsewan was the strongest, fittest, most 16 Outdoor fo ́յȀ)ѡɕܰ-ɭə)ѕЁѕɹ͕ݥѠ)хչѕݔݕɔѼЁѼѡ)ЁЁAɥݡɔٕ݅́坕ݡ)ݔȁɕ͍Քѕȸ5ݡ-ɭ)յɥ́䁥-ѡԁѼɅ)́хɕѵЁչѥձЁѼх)ɝ!ٕͅQ͕݅é($=啅ȁ-ɭ$Ʌѥ9e)ѡЁ]ЁݥѠٔ́ɕ܁ѼЁ́ѕ̸)%Ё݅́Ёɍٕɔȁ$͡ɕ)́ѡɽ՝и́ѡ䁵مЁѡѥ)͕ЁݡمѕЁЁ)ɔչхݔѼݥѡи́ɕձ)ݔݕɔЁȁ́Ёѥ$ݕձ)иЁ݅́Ʌѥ($]ͼɅЁЁѼȁՉ)٥ѡ́ͅɽݡɔͼЁ͕)ݡɔѡ́ݕɔхɽ́)ɽ٥́ݥѠЁхѽ̸́)Mɽչ́́ݔєѡ䁅ͼٔ-ɭٕ)Q9ЁѡЁݔ܁ЁЁѡѥ)Q݅́Ё͕ȁ啅̸ Ёѡӊe)ѡȁѽ($́ɕѼ́ȁɹ䁍ѥՕ$)ݕȰ՝ѕɥɽݸ)ѥͬЁѕݥѠɔ䁵Mɥ)ѡ́ݡ͡ձɕѡ䁱̰ݔЁ)ЁѼȁѥѥݡɔ5ȁ)ѼɔЁѼЁ́($éѕȰ䁱չ́͡а$ѡ՝Ё!典)́ݕɔٕȰЁɥٕɽ-ѡԸ+a5՝ԁѼdЁɕaAѕ́ɔɐѼ)ѡɔЁձ́䁱̸]ɔձ́ͼ)͔'eЁԁ]͡ݔd($-ɭѡѕѕȰ́ѽݕ5՝)݅́٥ՅѡЁѡչɽ́$ձ)ɑɕͥиMѡɥ܁ɥ̰ݥ$)͕Ёɔȁ-ѡԁݡɔݔݕɔչ)ЁݥѠɱ́ɥ́ɔ)ѡЁ5՝ԸQɔչѥ͔)݅́݅ѥѼхٕȁ͕ɥ́ɔ)͕́!典ɕݕ($=䁵5ȁЁݽձٔѡ՝Ёѡи)-ɭM