Tibet, 1990

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In another from my “blast from the past” series, I found some negatives from my travels through Tibet back in the summer of 1990, when I was 16: this was a big adventure, especially at that age.

I took this trip as part of a group of people going to the various base camps on the north face of Mt. Everest to clean up garbage left by other expeditions. We spent a little bit of time at the foot of the Rongbuk Glacier picking up trash from that wide plain, around 15,000ft, then hiked up to an advanced camp around 18,500 feet to load up on empty oxygen tanks and discarded food cans to haul down off the mountain.

Tibet, somewhere between the Everest base camp and the Nepal border, 1992

Tibet, somewhere between the Everest base camp and the Nepal border, 1992

Unfortunately I don’t have the negatives from that portion of the trip – it’s a long sad story involving some adult Boy Scout leaders that, well, should have gotten their asses thrown out of Boy Scouts (and possibly into jail). As it turned out, we had to take out a loan at the last minute to pay for the trip. A couple of the adults agreed to co-sign the loan as long as we all agreed to surrender our film to be used for fundraising until the loan was repaid. Sounds fair, and Boy Scouts are trustworthy, right?

Well, I had paid most of my trip already anyhow, and repaid the small portion of the loan that was mine quickly after the trip. Didn’t get my negatives back, though, because the entire loan – other peoples’ portion – was still unpaid. Then the guy that was keeping the negatives just disappeared. I lost track of the group and the deal – I was done and moved on – but I heard rumors that the co-signers got stuck with a large part of the unpaid debt, and maybe even one had to declare bankruptcy.

Tibet, somewhere between the Everest base camp and the Nepal border, 1992

Anyhow, these photos here are ones I accidentally managed to save – for a “funny” serendipitous reason.

On one of the last days at the cold high-elevation base camp my camera (ok, my Dad’s camera, a fairly-decent Minolta SLR) broke. I felt like something froze inside, and when I released the shutter for an amazing photo of the moon over Nuptse, some parts moved and some didn’t, and that was the end of Dad’s camera for that trip.

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I still had film, though, and so when we stopped along the road from Everest to the Nepal border and these kids swarmed us, I asked one of the others in my group if I could borrow their camera, load it up with my film, and make some photos. Of course they wanted their camera back asap, so I had to shoot a whole roll at once and get my film back out. (Didn’t know about shooting, rewinding, reloading, advancing in the dark, etc. at that time.)

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Tibet, somewhere between the Everest base camp and the Nepal border, 1992

Because of this weird arrangement, the rolls of film I shot this way made it into a different pocket of my backpack, and hence didn’t get turned over to the aforementioned criminal jerks that stole the rest of my film.

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Tibet, somewhere between the Everest base camp and the Nepal border, 1992

This is the trip that got me hooked on photography, and these images are some of the reason why. Now if I can ever find the black and white film negatives I had I can show some of the other reasons!

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