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A friend asked me today why I was so interested in Nepal and Tibet and I realized I've been fascinated by the region for about 30 years now.

When I was growing up, I loved to read travelogues of remote areas — with mountains and the sea being especially intriguing to me.  I don't recall how old I was when I first began reading accounts of early expeditions to Mount Everest but I remember learning about Mallory's mysterious disappearance around the time I first read Sir John Hunt's account of the successful 1953 ascent.  The great peak became the first entry on a list of sites I wanted to see before I died; a list I've maintained to this day.

My interests in Everest were rekindled when I stumbled across Jon Krakauer's despatches about the disasterous 1996 climbing season, first in Outside magazine and later in his book about the numerous deaths caused by the storm high on the mountain.  And when I found out the Royal Geographic Society had scheduled a presentation commemorating the 50th anniverary of the first ascent the week I was to be in London a couple of years ago, I immediately called to order tickets.  (The event featured speeches by the various surviving members of the 1953 expedition, including Sir John Hunt and Sir Edmund Hillary, as well as Tenzing Norgay's son.  My friend Bryan and I attended the matinee presentation; the evening event became a Royal Gala with HRH the Queen and Prince Phillip present.)

My first real understanding of the Himilayan region's environmental plight as well as my initial introduction to non-Western religious beliefs came from reading Peter Matthieson's The Snow Leopard during a 1979 motorcycle trip to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with my dad.  (I recently found my old copy of the book while sorting boxes; perhaps I'll take it with me to re-read when I venture to Nepal myself next year.)

More recently, I've watched two excellent DVD's about the region — a movie called Himalaya about yak herders in the Dolpo region, filmed on location completely with untrained actors who were actually residents of this remote section of the Earth; and an excellent documentary about Tibet called The Cry Of The Snow Lion which taught me more than I've ever known about the plight of the Tibetans and ignited a desire to learn more and to help in whatever ways I can.

When I become interested in a certain topic, there's no stopping me from wanting to learn all I can about that subject.  I'm sure that in the coming months I'll be renting more DVD's about the region and purusing the library or bookstore for both fiction and nonfiction works about Nepal and Tibet.  And, of course, the culmination (but will it really be the end?) of all this will be visiting; going as a volunteer definitely would be more fulfilling than traveling there as a mere tourist.