Nepal has a special place in my heart.  It's almost impossible for me to explain why, but every time I return to Kathmandu I am taken over by a level of excitement and happiness that I don't find in many other places.  It's paradoxical: I don't like cities, I dislike crowds, I hate traffic. Kathmandu is the perfect combination of all three and yet I love it.  

Nepal is where I climbed my first big mountain five years ago, a spontaneous decision that started me on a path my mom isn't super excited about (sorry mom!) and led me to a series of expeditions to develop my alpine skills. 

Back then, the final steps across Island Peak's summit ridge at 20000ft felt like the hardest physical challenge of my life.  In the years since I have upped my game on the endurance front and become a stronger climber.  And now another spontaneous decision is bringing me back to the Khumbu: together with Mingma, the sherpa who introduced me to big mountains on Island Peak, I will attempt Kusum Kanguru - a rarely climbed 6367m peak not far from Lukla.  

Taking a break with Mingma on the descent from Island Peak, November 2011

After a month of hot and muggy sport climbing in Thailand I am excited to breathe crisp mountain air and stretch the legs, and test a ton of new gear too. And as far as my mom goes... well... she's in her final stretch of training before we climb Kilimanjaro together over Thanksgiving! Apple, tree :)