Dear Margreet, Pieter, Elke, family and friends,
“When was the last time you saw something for the first time?”
When we realized that – even for Christiaan – things had been silent for too long and we decided to travel to Nepal ourselves, Robin of the NKBV (Royal Dutch Mountaineering Society) said that he advised against going, but that he understood. I agreed with him, the facts weren’t on our side and what would we be able to achieve there, without a plan, and never having been in Nepal before. We were realistic and hopeful when we started the trip. Even before we departed, we were supported by a rich network of acquaintances in Europe and Nepal who were able to connect us to the right people locally. We were reaching the limit of the insurance budget, and you collected funds for a new budget, and the app group put forward ideas like using a dog team. Within a short period of time, we found the right people to help us. A day after we arrived, we were on our way to Dhaulagiri, and although I too wanted to take out my hiking boots and get as close as possible, I found my place surrounded by laptop and telephones, together with everyone in the valley, and Felix, John and Ben who also came to help search.
It’s good to know that we were able to search alongside and to connect with so many special people in Nepal, both familiar faces and new ones. We experienced a great deal of personal involvement. The rescue team SARON, SARDogs dog team, MAF Nepal, police in Beni, Mountain Warfare Army School in Jomsom, Air Zermatt, embassies, hotel owners, taxi drivers, helicopter pilots, hostel owners and many others. I’d like to acknowledge by name: Karna, Suraj, Pemba, Tchering, Patrick, Gagan, Kari, Gerco, Stan, Menno, Gerald and Spiderman (Paul might know his real name). The concern and involvement from climbers in the Netherlands, both famous and less well-known, was also a special experience.
It’s very difficult to understand what happened. We were able to get answers to questions that had been raised by various possible and impossible scenarios, both from other climbers and from organizations on the mountain. And by seeing the area with our own eyes, and feeling it. But the reality is also that we don’t know where Chris is. That is very hard.
Whether or not the trip was useful isn’t something that crosses our minds. Even though we’ve returned without Chris, it was the only and best thing we could do, being there ourselves. For Chris, for all of you, and for ourselves. Over the last days, I spoke with Paul about what a strange luxury and privilege it was for us, to be there and to not have to worry about work. I want to thank you all for that. Though we’re missing Chris, it makes all the difference to me to have been there together. The consul told us that, during her 20 years in Nepal, she’d never witnessed a comparable gathering of initiatives, energy and professionalism. That doesn’t bring back Chris, but I know that it’s significant.
It was very good to meet Pieter, Sander, Michel and HP a few days before we left, and to spend time together. It was a hard day, leaving and adjusting to being back home, and shifting gears from energetic endeavors to a period of rest.
“When was the last time you saw something for the first time?”, is written on one of my most important climbing photos with Chris. Since he took me to Switzerland 15 years ago and I first laid eyes on the four-thousanders in the Alps, this was at the core of heading out on the trails. After a few days of bad weather in Nepal, I saw the 8,000 meter high peaks on the horizon for the first time and had that same sensation.
In the time ahead, I hope that everyone will see new things.
Those mornings in Nepal, when it was still nighttime in the Netherlands and a flight was about to depart, this melody and text connected me to everyone at home and in Nepal and with the certainty that everything would be okay, now or in the future.. – https://youtu.be/-025lhWCXLE