Tor and rock bagging in Dartmoor
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Rob Fraser recently shared the long journey of his boots with us on social media – they couldn’t end up as planters just yet, so for a little while, they will hang around in the windows of George Fisher, Keswick. Here’s Rob’s tale of life as a Porter, in Meindl boots.
“The idea came to me as a dream whilst I was leading a trek two years previously in Limi, a time-static valley nudged up into the far west region of Nepal. As that saying goes, be careful of what you dream of”
Since 2003 Rob has guided more than 30 treks across the Himalayas and has used local porters on many of those journeys. When it came to working as a porter himself, Rob was employed as one of the crew for a commercial trek to Everest Base Camp run by KE Adventure Travel.
“As the days rolled on, and I gradually adapted to my role and found my own rhythm, they began to warm to me, and I got to know them, walking alongside them, sleeping in the lodges, and eating with them at the end of each day. I wanted to shine a light on the hard work that the porters do to support trekkers to get high into the Himalayas. I also wanted to see if, as a relatively fit 51-year-old bloke, I could cope with the rigours of the work.
“The bottom line is that it was very tough – probably the hardest physical challenge I have ever undertaken. Even with a great pair of boots my feet got battered: the pressure of carrying a heavy load goes straight down to your feet. And I developed a nagging sore spot on the base of my spine where the load rubbed my sweat-soaked back. This is what it is like to be a porter.”
Rob walked for up to eight hours each day – in hot dusty conditions lower down and in sub-zero temperatures higher up. His kit was good, but he felt the strain, particularly after eight days walking to reach Gorak Shep – it’s the highest settlement along the route to Everest Base Camp. Here’s a short film of his experience: iporter on Vimeo.
Eight kilograms lighter and having spent three times what he earned (on extra food), Rob announced his immediate retirement as a porter. He returned with a greater respect for the men and women who are the backbone of the mountain economy, and work very hard to make the dreams of mountaineers and trekkers come true.
Rob works with his partner Harriet, a writer, through their collaborative arts practice somewhere-nowhere, which uses exploration, discovery and creativity to build connections between people and nature. They explore land through walking and wild camping, and immerse themselves in places off the beaten track.
Read more about their latest project; Sense of Here, and check out the interactive map where you can share your voice about your own ‘sense of here’ (add your Blue Dot by following the link: www.senseofhere.com/map-your-sense-of-here)