Nepal: wild, primitive, lush, and disconnected. A journey with Francesco Perrone.

F&U.: Hello Francesco! Before diving into the details of your incredible trekking in Nepal, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your passion for adventure and exploration?
F.: Hi Fast&Up lovers! So, to introduce myself, I can start by telling you that I am one of those lucky (or perhaps courageous) people who have managed to combine their passion with their work. My passion for the mountains and the outdoor world in general led me to become a mountain guide. This lifestyle has allowed me to have the time to explore, discover, and, as one thing leads to another, ask myself at the end of every trip: where will I go next? What else can I discover? How far can I go?
F&U.: Trekking in Nepal is a unique challenge. Can you share with us what drove you to choose this destination for your adventure and what most fascinates you about the Himalayan country?

F.: Consider that I live in the Alps, at the foot of Mont Blanc. This leads to two significant consequences: having, almost in my “backyard,” iconic mountains that people from around the world dream of climbing, and such a variety of terrains that one could spend a lifetime without ever doing the same thing twice. The risk is to fossilize in these areas and not move much elsewhere.

But imagine having a Mont Blanc with another Mont Blanc above it; this is the Himalaya. Vast spaces and enormous mountains. One had to go there to stick one’s nose in!
What has always fascinated me about mountains I don’t know is looking at them from afar and trying to imagine where one could climb or descend. When these mountains are over 8000 meters high, this “game” is surreal.

I found myself sitting for hours, scrutinizing slopes and ridges with binoculars, imagining a climbing route. Also, knowing those places only by hearsay from friends or having read about them in adventure books, I was very curious about the local culture.

F&U.: Preparing for a high-altitude trek requires time and dedication. Can you tell us how you planned your physical and mental preparation to tackle this epic journey?
F.: Consider that I have spent a good part of my life training, starting from childhood for cycling competitions and later for mountain activities. Sport is so ingrained in my daily routine that I couldn’t do without it; it would be like depriving myself of lifeblood! However, such a long and high-altitude trek had never happened to me before. I used a training profile more focused on low-volume, long-distance endurance. The mental preparation for a high-altitude trek is very similar to what is needed in our mountains for multi-day traverses: understanding one’s body well and having the confidence to handle almost any unexpected situation. Nepal is like this, “bistare bistare” (slowly slowly). Everything is done calmly, partly due to cultural reasons but mostly related to acclimatization. Altitude sickness is unfortunately a great enemy of trekkers and is always lurking if you ascend too quickly. There are constant signs drawing attention to this issue, so evidently, it’s a real concern. The mantra of true “himalaysts” is: climb high, sleep low. The recipe to avoid altitude sickness is to acclimate the body to the progressive deprivation of oxygen.
F&U.: Nutrition is fundamental to maintain energy during a challenging trek. How did you manage your diet during the journey? Do you have any interesting culinary experiences to share?

F.: This was one of my “weak points.” Throughout the year, I follow a typical sports-oriented diet (like everyone, I consume certain types of Western foods). In Nepal, this changes into a ruthless vegetarianism based on rice. I love rice, but in Nepal, the quantities are truly alarming! Moreover, one must pay due attention to meat above 3000 meters. Yes, because there isn’t always electricity, and rightly one wonders: how will they preserve meat up there? Hence, the answer clearly explains why I chose not to eat it, to avoid more serious issues (already experienced in similar journeys due to meat). But then a doubt arose: how to compensate for the lack of nutrients? The only alternative was Daal, lentil soup strictly paired with rice and some vegetables.

I admit to struggling to adapt to this dietary regimen. I lost a lot of weight, but I always had enough energy available.

Water chapter: filtered or boiled? This was one of the problematic points of the trekking. Some people buy bottled water at tiny refreshment points along the route or carry it on their backs. I consider this ethically and environmentally unacceptable. However, at the same time, we can’t drink it as it comes out of the pipe in the meadow or from the stream, let alone boiled water without salts!

I adopted the filtering strategy. I used a different filter-equipped water bottle from the traditional ones with the filter in the spout. I filled the external container and inserted the internal one under pressure. The pressure generated by this operation allowed the water to pass through this filter with very high antibacterial power, ensuring purification beyond 99%. At this point, I could enrich the water with salts or heat it for tea.

F&U.: During the adventure, did you use Fast And Up products? If so, how did they help you maintain optimal performance and energy during the long days of trekking?

F.: Not only did I use them, but I literally ran out of them! I had calculated how many I would need, and I used them all. The Reload tubes allowed me to dissolve the tablets in freshly filtered or boiled water, providing excellent support for recovering lost fluids. I also used the multivitamin every morning to compensate for the very meager breakfasts. I brought Fast Energy gels in case I needed an extra boost during particularly tough moments. They were all very digestible and essential for tasteless or, even worse, freshly boiled water.

F&U.: Beyond the challenges, there must have been moments of pure wonder during the trek. Can you share a particularly memorable experience or a breathtaking scene that you encountered along the way?
F.: One of the most thrilling views I had was towards the end of the journey when, during a sunrise, the imposing Dhaulagiri appeared in front of me. Everything was in shadow except for this immense mountain and a Nepalese “stupa,” a typical votive monument. But every new glimpse while ascending the valleys was truly unique.
F&U.: Lastly, do you have any advice or inspiration to share with those dreaming of undertaking a similar adventure in Nepal? What would you like to say to those aspiring to explore the beauty of this captivating region?
F.: To plan everything carefully, get a precise idea of what awaits you, and turn everything upside down as soon as you get there. Truly, you won’t realize until you’ve been there how astonishing this region can be. Wild, primitive, lush, disconnected.
F&U.: Thank you so much to Francesco for sharing his incredible trekking experience in Nepal with us! His passion for the mountains and adventurous spirit are truly inspiring. The Fast & Up Team 🧡
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