billi bierling female mountaineer and journalist from Germany

Off to a new adventure

I have just noticed that time must have been flying over the past three months and even though it seems that I have only just got back to Pakistan after my visit to Europe, I am actually about to leave again.

I have just been asked how I was feeling and even though the time here has not always been easy, I am sad to leave my friends, my interesting work and my life saviour in Islamabad – the Margalla Hills.  I have just come back from a hike with a couple of my colleagues and even though I spend most days in the hills either running or biking, it made me realise once again that these hills are a true gem in Islamabad.

The Sunday walking crew - Tahira, Khunsa, Billi, Stacey..and my bike

The sad thing is that so few people use this wonderful nature resort and I was amazed to find out that the two Pakistani women I walked with had never ever been there. It also made me realise, how lucky most of us are who are physically active as one of the girls, who was barely 24, had to turn back after about 15 minutes as she was exhausted!! My colleagues Stacey and Khunsa proved to be very strong though and utterly enjoyed the walk and the amazing views!

Coming from the ‘western’ world, exercise is something most of us do in one form or another. We may not go running every day but most people walk or bike to work and some of us make more of an effort and work out properly. Here in Pakistan, the notion of exercising is still pretty alien to people, and it is certainly great to be able to motivate some of them and get them to go out and do something. I have started to take my colleague Fatima up the Margalla Hills before work once a week and it is a real joy to see how much pleasure she gets out of it.  “Being able to walk up these hills and enjoying the nature has really changed my life,” she said during one of our walks.

Fatima and I on one of our early morning walks in the hills

Now I have two more weeks to set up a walking group of people who can join up and go for a walk in the hills before work. It would be so great to leave this legacy in Pakistan as I have the feeling that a lot of people would love to do it but just need some motivation.

Hovering above the mist covering Islamabad

Lhotse

However, for the time being I have to motivate myself to get strong and fit for Lhotse, which at 8,516m is the fourth highest mountain in the world and is situated right next to Mount Everest. So far, just over 400 people have successfully climbed this beautiful peak, and among them 21 women.

I have been trying to build up strength by putting 16 litres of water in my rucksack and carrying them up the Margalla Hills. Using water is not a bad idea as it can be dumped once you have reached the top and you can walk down feeling like a feather. The hikers in the Islamabad hills must think I am absolutely mad when I take out the huge canister of water and dump it in the bushes – but I must say that the little tree I have been watering three times a week is certainly looking much greener and healthier than its fellow plants.

I am leaving for Kathmandu on Thursday, 24 March and I will stay there for one week to meet the rest of my expedition (Russell’s Lhotse group is joining his Everest expedition as it is the same route up to Camp 3), help Miss Hawley and pack up my gear for the expedition. I will then come back to Islamabad to wrap up my job with UNOCHA, teach a few more CORE classes (something I have utterly enjoyed) and organise a few going-away parties before I leave Islamabad for good on 13 April. I will be leaving with mixed feelings as I have met some wonderful people here, have learnt as much as I have never learnt in my life and have had the joy to motivate some people to go out and do something.

However, I have an amazing expedition to look forward to and even though I do not know what life has in store for me next I am sure it will be something exciting – “In Shallah” like an old Arabic proverb goes!

7 Responses

  1. anne parmenter said on April 1, 2011 at 12:51 am

    I am soooooo jealous. I am hoping for next year. All the best of luck

    Reply
  2. Mirwise jalil afghan said on March 31, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    hi! Dear Billi welcome back to pakistan.

    Reply
  3. Mirwise jalil afghan said on March 31, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    hi! Billi

    Reply
  4. Kate said on March 28, 2011 at 4:45 am

    Have fun back in lovely Nepal and good luck with Lhotse! You leave a positive mark wherever you go, good work!

    Reply
  5. Beth said on March 25, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Billi,
    Thanx for the update. You, my friend, are the most encouraging person I know. I’m certain that you have inspired many people throughout your life and with your friendship. Unfortunately, you may never know the effect you’ve had on many of them. Remember the satisfaction you felt when you were able to deliver the computer to the Pakistani poet? No one will ever know how much he would have written without the PC, but now that he has it…as Dr. Seuss would say, “There’s no limit to the places [he] will go!” And, you singlehandedly played a HUGE part in that. You really touch an incredible number of people and inspire them in countless ways!
    Good luck on your Lhotse climb! Will you be blogging for Russell again on this expedition?

    A hug,

    Reply
  6. Yves said on March 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Trip to Europe ? Havent seen much … big kisses and good luck 🙂

    Reply
  7. Ellen Miller said on March 24, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Billi! Keep up the great work of encouraging people to go for walks! So looking forward to seeing you soon my sweet friend!

    Reply

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