The big surprise for me, though, was that among this group of hardened walkers and climbers, I was the baby. The oldest member was 75, the second 74 and the average age 65. Today trekking is no longer the domain of the student backpacker; the so-called “grey pound” is as visible in the Himalayas as it is in the Lamborghini showroom.
The trek we were in the midst of was a 30-day marathon, whose goal was to make a circuit of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-tallest mountain, taking in both the north and south base camps. Unlike well-known treks to Everest and Annapurna, Kanchenjunga has not been ravaged by mass tourism and remains enticingly remote.
It has always played a secondary role to Everest, even though Kanchenjunga is only 262 metres lower, and arguably a greater challenge. First climbed in 1955 by a British team, it’s highly regarded among mountaineers but less well known to the wider public.