Here’s a true story for you:

In November 2010 I turned back on a mountain called Ama Dablam in Nepal. Afterwards, back in Kathmandu, I was in a secondhand bookshop and I bought Matthew a mountain expedition book as consolation for him not having been able to come to the Himalaya with me. It has only just occurred to me to look out of interest at what that book was. And … it was the story of the first ascent of Nanda Devi.

Now. This is not a particularly common book. I had also never heard of Nanda Devi then – I just thought the book looked nice and I had that amount of currency left to spend in this dingy secondhand bookshop before I got on the flight home.

Fast-forward to 2018, and I had had and recovered from a very severe breakdown. I was climbing hard again. I wanted to go back to the Himalaya, and I started considering an expedition to an insanely beautiful mountain called Nanda Devi East.

To my knowledge I had never heard of Nanda Devi; I had to google it to find out what and where it was. I had found the trip by chance through a mountain guide I knew, and not because I was looking for that particular lump of snow and rock – it’s not a mountain that just appears in catalogues of expeditions. (In fact Nanda Devi has been entirely off limits since 1983, and Nanda Devi East (the subsidiary summit) is so rarely climbed that it has still never been guided at all, and only one woman has ever summited.)

My expedition to NDE – as most of you know – went horrendously, tragically wrong. I experienced a lot, and I learned a lot, and when I came home I started writing about it.

My own book starts on Ama Dablam and ends on Nanda Devi East – and I not only planned that structure for the book three years ago, I’ve already drafted the whole thing. (Draft two is currently underway. No-one has seen the book yet.)

So somehow back in 2010 at the end of my Ama Dablam story I managed to physically buy the story of the mountain that I had no clue my own next eight years were leading towards. Without knowing or remembering that I was doing it.

That’s my discovery for today.

The book, with its date of receipt clear in Matthew’s handwriting – I saved it six weeks, and handed it over for his birthday in January.

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