This story is about Jagan Timilsina and his journey from being a porter to becoming an Everest Summiteer. Jagan Timilsina,31, begun his career as as porter and quickly reached milestones by becoming a guide and eventually an Everest Summiteer. Moreover he was one of the first to initiate the rescue works for the earthquake victims by helping them out with school, houses and injuries. The fact that some of the major hiking trails in Nepal were completely devastated came as a total blow to him as well as to the entire Nepal tourism industry. However, rather than howling over the past, Timilsina yearns to commence to less chartered areas in Nepal to flaunt the true virgin beauty of Nepal to the entire world.
His phone keeps ringing constantly. But that does not divert his attention from dressing an ear infection. Cautiously sterilizing the wound with alcohol swabs and pressure syringe, he then applies an antibiotic ointment. According to him,no such thing as being too careful while dressing a wound exists as far as medical guide is concerned. Timilsina then gets ready to go the school to do some roof job. The phone rings again. It was his wife.
Timilsina answers the call anticipating to tell his beloved wife about his relief work in Nuwakot. But to his disappointment, the person on the other side of the phone was not interested in what he had to say. She just wanted to make her point saying that “If you don’t show up by tomorrow, I’ll leave you.” She then hangs up the phone furiously leaving him terrified and thoughtful. Realizing the seriousness of the situation and in a desperate attempt to save his marriage, he packs his rucksack and rushes back to his wife and kids in Pokhara in no time. Well, if you think of it from his wife’s perspective, she wasn’t to be blamed for the outburst considering that her husband’s whereabouts are awfully painful to track.
“I was in Tibet with clients when earthquake hit on April this year”, says Timilsina recalling the frightening moment he heard of the news.“We cut our trip short and returned to Nepal. I was glad that my family was safe.” Timilsina then instantaneously went to the most isolated and remote corners of Nepal in order to rescue the victims. Those places and people living there were new to him as well. “All my trekking and expeditions I was due to lead were cancelled, so I had enough time in my hands anyway,” adds Timilsina. His skills to trek and expertise as medic utterly paid him off and made him quite an all-around responder. He was even able to access few of the most remote and hard -hit places. From training Nuwakot’s locals in first aid to crossing a stricken bridge over a raging river below to reach a desolate village in Dolakha to trying to admit a mute 8-year-old kid with leprosy to hospital in Okhaldhunga, he did it all. In addition to helping over 8000 earthquake survivors directly or indirectly with his selfless and do-it-now attitude, Timilsina is just more than a guide and medic.
Born and raised in enviable greens by Pokhara’s Lakeside, Timilsina has achieved what most people can barely imagine – being an Everest Summiteer. Timilsina believes in modesty and leads a respectful life with his wife and two angelic children. His two kids, 8 and 6 are growing up to resemble their father.However, he always has a hard time convincing his wife about his outdoor lifestyle.
Timilsina belonged to a farming family and was raised with 6 sisters and a brother. As a kid ,he used to walk 2 hours back and forth everyday to reach school. From the background he came from , everything didn’t come easy to him. Financial problems and adjustments were a part of his life since he belonged to a struggling family. At that point , he really felt the need to do something for his family to help them financially though he was only in middle school back then.
Finally, an opportunity striked for him in the year 1998. 1998 was also celebrated as Visit Nepal, 98. It was a fabulous year for Nepal’s Tourism. Timilsina got his first job as a trekking porter which was the very first landmark in his life. His anxiousness would have him roam around Pokhara’s hills even to Panchase and as far as India without informing his family. Apart from handling the work as porter , he used to assist his father in the fields as well. He would carry heavy load on long trekking routes. “Perhaps all the walking I did as a kid came handy,” remembers Timilsina nostalgically. He worked as porter for next 4 years and built strong affinity for nature in these 4 years duration. But not without a few anecdotes to share.
“I was really excited when I got to reach the high altitude in the Annapurna Base Camp for the first time. It was during my first year as a porter. But then the excitement didn’t remain for long because I suffered from some altitude sickness. Carrying about 40 kgs on my back, I was really drained and was in no condition to enjoy the mountains or night sky. Asking the guide to understand my circumstances would be meaningless because that would have left him turned back without any pay. So during night, he went down to deurali without letting anyone know. I knew lower altitude would ease his condition. I didn’t even go to the hotel because his guide would find it out the other day.I slept in rocks for two hours in the freezing winter cold. Then after getting a little better, I walked back to MBC before anybody came to find out. I knew that I had to do this because I had to keep my family financially secured and also because I wanted to reach ABC at any cost.”
There were times when he wanted to give up because he doubted his body’s capability to carry such heavy loads at such altitude. In addition to that, the ill-treatment he had to face for being a porter disheartened him. The hotels were very partial towards the porter and didn’t treat them on the same level as guides though they worked as hard. He had to eat stale food and sleep outside in cold. “But I have to earn for my family and that kept me moving. Within the pace of time, I started adjusting and starting loving my job as a porter.”
However, his luck didn’t favour him for long. With the advent of the Civil War, the flow of tourists gradually decreased. He was unemployed for several days and had even made up his mind to work as a manual labourer in Kathmandu. In 2002, he finally got a break in Himalayan Encounters, a leading trek company in life, where he was hired as a guide-cum-porter. This was a second big landmark in his life.
Within a time span of few months, he gained a good reputation in the company and was hired as a permanent staff. That was a moment of pride for Timilsina as many people take years and years to achieve what he has achieved in just a matter of months.”Eventually I got an opportunity to travel abroad and understand tourism better.” His heart was always in the mountains and he wanted to scale Everest. Back then, the idea was not encouraged and was ignored by many as impossible and insane. But that was where his heart lies. He wanted to see his dreams transforming into a reality. In 2007 , he had no second thoughts about his idea of climbing a mountain. He knew what he wanted and nothing could stop him.”I knew that this is not going to be easy because training is quite expensive, nevermind permits. Moreover, quitting drinking and cigarettes overnight would be too difficult to handle for my body as my body is used to it.” Then I started saving and after 3 years, I was capable of climbing Everest. I now had advanced training in mountaineering and was physically and mentally sound. But why climb the highest mountain, or any? His answer is well rehearsed: “It unshackles my mind and sets it free.”
After 5 years, finally he got the chance to live his dream. He finally got a chance to climb Everest. Challenges and hurdles were tons. He was caught in an avalanche; lost his snow goggles, suffering from near snow blindness; partially lost circulation after his oxygen valve malfunctioned; and couldn’t open his left eye midway. Despite of all the hindrances , he knew that he has to make it to the top no matter what. “As I moved ahead on the slope with each painful step, I recalled the faces of my beautiful wife, son and daughter. They didn’t want me to go ahead with it as they were scared to lose me.”
Regardless of all the odds and hardships, on May 19th 2012, 8:30 am he made it to the top making himself and everyone else proud. He stood on top of the world. He payed tribute to people who died in Seti flood a week earlier by being silent for 2 minutes. This was his moment, a moment which he had been craving for since months. It was a moment of victory for him. He had achieved something many would consider insane and impossible. Looking down, he could see many peaks he had previously climbed. The feeling was surreal. Even 8000m peaks like Annapurna seemed like sheer foothills from Everest.“It is a baffling feeling, especially after having gone through so much in life. From where I started to standing on the summit of Mount Everest. Everything just seems like a dream come true for me. I felt like a free soul,” says Timilsina , looking back into his life.
Everest was definitely a turning point in his life. Having achieved such great accomplishments, Timilsina never looked back. His drive for adventure was never gratified. Right after the expedition, he enrolled for a paragliding course with a company named APPI. Timilsina was never pulled back due to any mishaps. Even after having a serious butt injury during the training period, he didnot look back. Further down the list are : being stucked in a cave while abseiling in chitwan, riding into a gutter to avoid a speeding truck in Manakamana, etc. Timilsina loved challenges and that kept him driven. He was not at all daunted by them and that’s why he gained the reputation as a maverick of adventure.
Having spent almost half of his life in between the mountains, Timilsina now aspires to bring Nepal’s tourism back on its feet. Now proudly running the outdoor venture Adventure treks, Timilsina intents to document less chartered areas in Nepal especially eastern and far-western regions and show the world that there is so much more to this country.