For 23 days I didn’t shower, slept on the floor, ate a restricted diet, lost over 20 pounds and carried 100 kilos as an effort to become one of the first ever Foreign Porters to aid a Mt. Everest Expedition.

Footage Here:

The project was a bit of a capstone to anotherwise out-of-my-mind five-year millennial stint to tackle the craziest adventures on the planet: from living in a Brazilian Favela with a family I met on the street to swearing to noble silence in a Himalaya Temple, I eventually got so manic that I raised enough money — because I had no money of my own — to film one of these immersive projects. And this is what came about.

The Porter began as a test of will. An effort to see just how far I could push myself before collapsing. And to do so, with obviously the hardest job on the planet. But then I actually did it. I actually slept on the ground, ate only rice, carried 100 kilos and completed an expedition only to cry in a closet afterwards, crawl into a bed and reflect on the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of other porters that have done, are doing and will do more than what I did, 20x a year. And that most of them are so underapaid that they can't even do anything else.

So, it definitely changed me in a pretty extreme way. But not at first. It took me a few months just to realize that, I, a ramndom traveler, now had the only real proof of this injustice. And so, I tried to make a film.

I sit here tody at my computer with a couple of empty pasta bowls beside me in a room that I've rented from 2-weeks to 2 weeks, posting an AMA to Reddit with the hope that others might want to share this story and spread awarenes for the Porter plight too. I am not a filmmaker. I am not a marketer. I am just a "me" with an experience. And a mesage I think should be shared.

Hopefully this film can help raise some awareness for the improvement of Porters’ salaries on Everest.

Feel free to ask me anything. And don’t hold back.






NEW: Gotta work tomorrow early but will respond to new questions soon!

Comments: 102 • Responses: 41  • Date: 

gingerbeard30330 karma

How many people come to Everest to climb it and you are thinking how they have no business climbing a mountain?

njmenninger42 karma

Most people only know about those who attempt Everest's peak, but there's almost a hundred thousand more that climb to its base camp, its neighboring mountains, and its general area every year. Do I think anyone can do this, yes? But you've gotta know yourself and train accordingly. No doubt, there are many who haven't trained sufficiently for their own bodies. Sometimes, Porters have to physically carry their clients.

jyeatbvg14 karma

Did the EBC trek last year as a fairly fit twenty-something. On the hardest day of the trek (Namche to Tengboche), I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it to our tea house. I was exhausted and out of breath. Then we passed a group of seventy-year old grandmothers, all in high spirits and sweating their asses off trying to get to the same spot. After that I felt rejuvenated and finished the day (and rest of the trek).

Edit: we also saw our fair share of fat people, old people, children and people from all over the world. It was amazing to see such an assortment of people all with a common goal.

njmenninger4 karma

Agreed. I think it's amazing. It's amazing that so many people can now visit the top of the Earth. And that we can push further than before. I mean, why not try it? But gotta make sure as the industry progresses that those involved are getting paid right. As they should be in any industry. How long were u up there?

sonofabutch13 karma

I’m sure people were surprised to encounter a “sherpa” from Massachusetts. Were you the only foreign Sherpa? How were you received the climbers, the other sherpas? Were you treated differently, or did people have different expectations about what you could or should do?

njmenninger24 karma

Very surpised to encounter a foreign Porter (I was actually working with Tamang and not Sherpa, another ethnic group in the mountains). But as time passed, word spread. Foreigners started asking for pics, then locals and soon enough everyone kind of knew about me. We even had a whole group of locals and foreigners cheering at the end when I tried to carry 100 kilos - I think most thought I was just that nuts dude. As for the latter questions, it's quite a lot to explain, but I think the film does a good job of showing how I was treated. I was definitely treated differently, and at different times. But I should've been. Afterall, I was only doing their job for a month as opposed to a full year like many other porters.

jessikwan12 karma

Before your adventures, what was your social and financial background? How much of a culture shock was it to give up so much we take for granted in first world countries?

njmenninger23 karma

1) Socially, I came from a pretty wealthy neighborhood up in Boston, Mass. Then a spur of colleges and Universities, afterwhich I left and for 5 years hence, sought the opposite. I became pretty poor, slept on people's floors, in closets, in hostels in exchange for food and a bed, lived out of a bag and ate white rice with salt for food. I raised money for this film from a gift, a former doctor, a teammate and a highshool classmate.
2) It didn't hit me until after I came back, until after I burned out in Hollywood - to which I flew directly from Nepal - but when it did, it really messed me up. And quite clearly, showed me just how little adversity I've had and how privelaged I've been.
Thank you Jess!

jessikwan9 karma

Thanks for answering! Are you planning to submit the film to Indie film festivals, or try to release it in any "mainstream" capacity? I would love to watch it! Also, if your are still planning on adventuring/filming, I would totally donate to fund future adventures of you threw up a link to a GoFundMe or something.

njmenninger6 karma

That's the hope! To get it somewhere mainstream and inspire some improvements. But it seems as though the path to mainstream may be pretty long. Similar to festivals as well. Got any suggestions. For now, you can watch it online at the link in the AmA! And really?...hope you enjoy it!

pigpiggypig4 karma

Hello friend, brave journey and one that should be highlighted and shared. Check out, great avenue to get your film out to other like minded beautiful people just like yourself.

njmenninger1 karma

I'll definitely look into it and thanks for the positive works. Looks like a pretty cool thing. I'll definitely look to send it in.

Paulocas1 karma

I was about to suggest that, but AFAIK some festivals (usually the most important ones) will require that it will be a debut in their zone or country. So putting the film on the web might affect the chance to be selected. Anyhow, don’t give up and good luck!

njmenninger1 karma

Ooh. That would be tough. Hopefully since it's private and only reachable through the site that might help, but 'tis life I guess. Can't really go back now.

Auzy10 karma

How were you treated by clients? Were you treated differently than the Nepali?

When the going gets tough I've seen people treat Nepalese people like they are clueless..

njmenninger12 karma

Unfortunately, I was. I tried to avoid foreigners a lot of the time, but often I was approached or talked to more so than other porters were. I think much of this is honestly because of how segregated the two are. A porter's whole life is out of view from that of their clients and so, the dialogue between the two is almost non-existent. Porters know what clients do, but not vice versa. My hope is that this film can help to bridge that gap a bit. But as of now, your right on in your question.

Sheol9 karma

Do you carry the climber's personal gear or just supplies?

What is the most silly thing that you've seen a climber bring with them?

njmenninger15 karma

Everything. You carry their everything. Most trekkers will have a small backpack with a backup shirt and a waterbottle/snacks, and climbers might have more, like their crampons and a jacket or what not. But all nightly items, the Porter usually carries. Unfortunately, we don't get too look inside the bags, so I don't know. But you can imagine, people bring some weird stuff up to that altitude. Weird electronics, face oils, things like that.

creepy_doll14 karma

Just want to point out that as a hobbyist mountaineer, the people you are dealing with are not real mountaineers.

mountaineers or even hikers carry their own kit. Tents, food, sleeping bags etc.

What you were working with were high altitude tourists. Please don’t generalize or refer to the tourists as climbers.

We share the same derision for these tourists you do. I’m not particularly accomplished but I’ve been past 6000m and I carried everything I needed

The world of Himalayan high altitude tourism is very different from mountaineering in most of the world, and even in the Himalayas there are still amazing climbers out there doing incredible feats without support.

Also it is worth noting that for all the bad, there has come much good from this as well. The sherpas(as in mountain guides, not porters) do very well compared to their peers and the business has enriched the Khumbu valley compared to the rest of Nepal including building hospitals and schools for mountaineering which has allowed sherpas to be properly trained for safety and start up their own guiding companies(which opens up a whole different can of worms). Is it worth it? I won’t be the judge of that, but it’s a pretty complex issue that suburban kids have only begun to scratch the surface of.

njmenninger12 karma

Agreed. I think most mountaineers, whether that be 4,000 or 8,000 meters would too. But as you said, this is more geared towards trekkers and those below. And in the Himalaya, the effects still ripple down from mountaineers because the fact is, many climbers on Everest don't carry ALL of their own gear. So, yes an Everest porter (not always a Sherpa) may earn more money than another trade, but is he earning his just desert? And if not, how does this effect other porters who are working in the trekking industry aspiring to reach his level? In fact, most Everest porters, those considered guides who are lucky enough to work on peaks, don't actually make as much money as you'd think. They often need a deposit, or a loan or a big savings to buy enough equipment to get the gig in the first place, because they don't get paid until after. And for their first stint, if they don't sumit, their earnings, which can very greatly depending on how far they get and how much they carry, might not even exceed the cost of their gear, given that true Everest boots can be hundreds and hundreds of dollars. So yes, the industry has brought many, many, many great things to the area and has sparked a great deal of growth not just for Sherpas but for all ethnic groups in the mountains — a lot of this growth has actually come from non-profits such as the Small World that aren't involved in mountaineering - But this is not to say there is no flaws in the system. On the contrary, there just being overlooked.

As far as climbers not being tourists or trekkers, you are right, but in the Himalaya, climbers must first trek to climb and will pass along the same route, using the same faicilites, fueled by the same porters, to arrive at their respective base camps, making them too, trekkers and tourists.

And for all tourists and trekkers, I hold no derision at all. I believe the relationship is necessary as it allows some people who might not be able to get to Everest, to get there. But in its current financial form, it's just not fair for the majority of porters. Even though the peak climbers are getting paid more, the base-camp and below porters are often so underpaid that they can't earn enough money to get the gig for a peak climb. And even worse, this income level translates across to local porters, working for hotels and the like, as well and is felt throughout the area.

So I guess, it's not that one person is better than the other. Or one more valuable. The whole system is related. And if there's a flaw in any part, it'll affect the whole thing. Emotionally and economically. It's very possible that if porters are getting paid more, they can eat enough, drink enough and carry more. Prices could drop at higher altitudes. Trekkers could bring more. And most likely, spirits would be much higher all across the board. Then, hopefully an exchange not just of environment, but of thoughts between cultures could occur as well.

I do get what you're saying though and I definitely don't mean to be too steadfast. Or to insult you or any other climber. You make some very good points and I appreciate the feedback. It's a real big system and I certainly have a lot to learn yet. But the point is just to help out those who we now know are underpaid. That's all that really matters.

Ghostofhan8 karma

Are you committed to continuing to explore the Nepalese/porter condition? Or are there other issues in the world you'd like to immerse yourself in and document?

njmenninger13 karma

This project really shifted me around a bit, and seeing as though they let me into their culture and life not just to work, but to do so with a camera, I'd really like to get as much of their story out as possible and raise awareness for the improvement of their salary. There's tons of other stuff I'd like to, but don't wanna jump the gun. Got my eyes on a few more issues for sure.

Ghostofhan2 karma

Cool that makes sense - like you want to finish telling their story and do as much as you can to reciprocate before you move on.

njmenninger3 karma


iloveketchup_5 karma

There’s many bodies on Mt. Everest, has the possibility of dying there ever scared you?

njmenninger13 karma

I climbed a neighboring mountain where I had to cross this ice-crevass on three ladders tied together and where if I fell, I could've died. Even tripped on it too. Got really shook for a second, but then focused in. Guess the threat of death is always there, but most of its out of your control - an avalanche, a storm, etc. So it's smartest not to waste any energy thinking about it. Cuz you'll probably need it. But after this project, I'll probably stray away from mountain climbing for a bit. It's the kind of thing that can scare ya before hand, but once you're in it, it might not as much. At least for me.

drakoran5 karma

Haven't had time to watch the video, but from other comments it sounds like you were mostly carrying people's stuff up to base camp?

I have considered doing a base camp trip, it's on my hiking bucket list.

So I guess I have a few questions:

1) Is the base camp trip worth it, or are there other lesser known treks in the region with similar difficulty but perhaps less crowded/commercial?

2) I assume I don't have any control over how much money the sherpas on my trek make, unless I just slip them some money on the side. You want to raise awareness of their plight, but how can I as a tourist wanting to make the trek help them? Are there any outfits that actually pay them better than others?

3) One of the things that has held me back is the sense that booking a trip online to go to base camp seems very touristy, and you wouldn't really get a feel for the place/people/culture. What would you suggest for someone looking to go hiking in this region to get a less touristy more authentic experience, short of quit my job and becoming a sherpa like you did?

njmenninger7 karma

  1. It's definitely worth it, but are there are treks more worth it....definitely. I'd reccomend Anapurna - though I haven't completed the circuit, I hear it's more beautiful, though also pretty crowded. Manaslu I hear is good. And goyko lakes. Everset is Everest, but certainly not the prettiest.
  2. Ask you Porters, if you feel comfortable. Or ask your guide how much they're making. Actually, in pocket. Every expedition offers a chance to tip at the end. I suggest watching this film not for me, but almost as an education to know what they go through. Even when I went the first time, it's so segregated that foreigners don't even know they're living conditions. So it's hard to tip accurately if you don't know. I'd definitely ask the company how the porters are fairing.
  3. In terms of doing it your own way, always safer to get to the country and decide from there. But that'll add some stress. Otherwise, you can book a trip from wherever you are and they'll wait for you at the airport. But if you want to book there, there's hundreds of companies all beside each other. You can tour them and figure out which is best for you. If you want the least touristic experience, but still want a guide and porter, I'd suggest going from Jiri. Might be longer, but it'll be worth it. You can trek anywhere in Nepal for as long as you want. But i'd reccomend at least 2 weeks probably.

Also, great last line.

IckySweet3 karma

At the end of your film you mentioned a $100 tip, were the other porters paid more?

Your film was awesome really opened my eyes. I wish their government for a start would step in (use higher tourist license fees) to provide paid accommodation/food for all porters.

Thanks again for sharing,

njmenninger9 karma

Agreed. Much, much agreed brotha. We each got tipped $100. And that last day, day 12, we woke up at 6 or something and worked without salary. I believe this is typical.

creepy_doll0 karma

The government is corrupt as fuck and would pocket those fees.

Foreign expedition companies have lobbied for better treatment, but it’s important to understand the economics of the situation involve a lot of local companies trying to offer services for cheaper by paying their workers less.

If you do have to get porters(and many porters need the work so would prefer you do hire them) tipping them directly is probably the best bet, but this certainly isn’t a black and white case of “outsiders bad, exploiting the poor locals”

njmenninger1 karma

Well said. Lot of people come over just wanting a super cheap price. Was even me before I knew more about what was going on. There's over 1,600 trekking companies in Nepal alone all competing for business, so, at times, prices get dropped, and sometimes, that's at the expense of porters and guides and many others.

cktokm993 karma

Have you read down and out in Paris and London? That’s what your experience reminded me of.

njmenninger2 karma

Literally just read it. That's crazy. You mean The Porter, or what came before it?

cktokm991 karma

I was going off your post I haven’t watched your film yet. What you’ve done is very impressive and one of the more inspiring and thoughtful ‘challenges’ I’ve heard of .

I’m guessing you’ve read shantaram as well?

njmenninger2 karma

Oh no. I haven't....By Roberts? I'll have to add it to the list. About a smiliar thing?

madnoq2 karma

wow, i’m very impressed by your commitment and the insightful, focused and well produced doc. i finished reading “buried in the sky” (a book about nepalese and pakistani high altitude porters on a disastrous K2 climb) literally two days ago. it goes deeper into the historical and cultural background of the people working on these expeditions and treks, your doc focusing on their everyday life was a great further addition to that!

you’ve already answered most questions i had, but was wondering about this: where there any differences in dealing with Sherpa or Tamlang or porters hailing from other regions of Nepal? did they cooperate or was there some perception of animosity between different groups?

Good luck for your future endeavors! Will definitely share your doc.

njmenninger2 karma

Glad you liked it and hoping it get out there to shed some light. Good question though. There are no so much differences in treatment, but there are often seperate houses. Tamang homes. Sherpa Homes. Rai Homes. Although they're not exclusive at all. You'll find different ethnic groups in different homes. It's mainly just a familial thing. The only posturing differences occurs in the hierarchtical system from cooks to porters to peak porters and guides. Those who work on peaks like Everest and Ama Dablan or Anapurna are the top dogs.

BeskedneElgen2 karma

How often was bottled oxygen needed? Were you able to acclimate to the less dense air over a period of time, or is that a requirement of being a porter on Everest?

njmenninger7 karma

Bottle oxygen is typically only used above 21,000 feet, if that. This particular film only went to base camp, around 18,000 so no oxygen was needed. But some porters won't even use oxygen when they scale to the peak. I was able to adjust pretty easily.

bsp752 karma

Just watched your doc. I really became enthralled in your journey. I have some random questions that came to mind as I watched it.

How long did it take you to learn Nepalese? Nepali people seemed almost captivated to hear you say or sing anything in their language and seemed like very genuine people. Very salt of the earth, loving people.

Did “Big Sister” do all the cooking for the porters? The meat and rice song was funny to watch. The porters in the background really got a kick out of it, even though you couldn’t see them at the time.

Do you have any lasting neck or back problems after doing that? That 100kg was no joke, my dude. I know you’re only 24, but I was genuinely hurting for your neck. It looked painful to me.

Can we talk about this beautiful cow?

I will share your film, Nathaniel!

njmenninger4 karma

Hey there and thanks for watching. Hopefully we can spread it enough to raise some awareness for the Porters and their salary.

Happy to answer any questions you got.

1) I first taught myself Nepali in about 2-3 weeks. For my next big project at the time, I wanted to swear to Noble Silence in a monastery, like those in James Bond, so I taught myself the language figuring I could use it to get a spot in one. Turns out, that's not how it works, but I had already learned the language. This film happened 1 years later after a ton of other stuff transpired. I'd been back to Nepal twice in that interim. I'm certainly not fluent, but I hope they appreciated the attempt.

2) Each Porter House works a little differently. But in my experience, the mother and daughters often cooked for us (bahini is younger sister). I love that part too.

3) My body is kinda torn up from sports - 5 surgeries and some unrepaired torn muscles - so I'm not sure I can gauge the difference accurately as my baseline is already messed up. But, I don't think so. At least, not yet. I did collapse for a good two weeks after. But my body adjusted. My muscles fell away. My arms shrunk. My body became smaller, but my bones stronger. And much more efficient. I couldn't move my neck in the beginning, but eventually, I barely even noticed it. And even enjoyed carrying my load at one point. Flying around with a namlo became much easier than carrying a backpack.

Carrying the 100 kilos did hurt though. A lot. Although, I probably detached myself mentally from most of it to avoid the pain. Just kinda clicked back into it at the end there.

And so beautiful! But...that cow's a Yak!

bsp751 karma

Ahh. Thanks for setting me straight. I just loved the adornments on its head and had to take a screenshot.

You’re living an interesting life, Nathaniel. I admire your tenacity and the courage to embrace the journey in becoming a foreign porter. I was glad to see you persevere.

Another question came to mind: Do you think the “base camp tourists” are completely unaware how little pay the porters receive? That the porters are relying on their tips to sustain them? Are they aware they need to bring cash beforehand to tip them? Perhaps this could be solved with technology. Set the porters up with a Venmo account and give them a step up at least. But I’ve never been to Nepal so they may have no use for a Venmo account. Not to excuse bad behavior, but sometimes we just don’t have cash on us. People might be more generous with an electronic tip. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

But this doesn’t address the fact they are woefully underpaid for the work that is done. I had no idea. Thanks for shining a light on this.

njmenninger3 karma

They're not completely unaware, but I think prices are exagerrated. So trekkers often think porters are getting more than what they actually are. Hereinlies the problem. Porters relying on tips when tippers don't know they're relied on...But perhaps it would be even better for all if Porters didn't have to rely so heavily on tips.

As for the techonological side, that's a real cool idea. Unfortunately, bank accounts aren't as widely spread over there as they are in the USA or Europe. so at the moment I'm not sure how feasible something like that would be. But that's not to say it's out of the question. Just would take some preparation and organization to implement.

nDoJoy1 karma

At least, not yet. I did collapse for a good two weeks after. But my body adjusted. My muscles fell away. My arms shrunk. My body became smaller, but my bones stronger. And much more efficient.

This is what I was going to ask about, how you sustain yourself through all that heavy labor on just white rice. Sounds like barely is the answer!

Glad you had such a powerful journey. Rest up before the next one! Preferably with a lot of veggies and however you like your protein!

njmenninger4 karma

In the high mountains, porters meals are actually white rice, a small, small bowl of lentils - mainly soup - some thakari (or vegetables), and if you're lucky, some small shards of chicken bones with some chicken left on it. But not at high camp. Just rice and a bit of lentils there. No matter what it comes with, it's called Dhal Bhat (maybe you knew..lot of people do).

Sometimes, rarely, we had Momo's (dumplings) or lomein (noodles). Always used a ton of salt as well. Helped keep the water in our bodies during the day. I never saw the other porters sweating. I did, but less and less as I got adjusted.

Woops, sorry for the long winded answer!

centaur_unicorn233 karma

As an indian personal, I love that type of food. Daal is so amazing and nourishing. Also super clean food too.

njmenninger1 karma

Super healthy. Though it's been a long time since I've had some.

nDoJoy2 karma

No, thank you for the details! I had not heard of Dhal Bhat before but I'll make sure to eat my salt next time I climb Everest :P

njmenninger2 karma

Salt tea too!

IAmGodABit2 karma

Definitely watching the film, what a fantastic story line! I’m starting to read some mountaineering books- I’ve always wanted to climb Mt. Baker (live in the PNW, hard to ignore the mountains haha), and just finished “no shortcuts to the top.”

I always wondered about the sherpas, what they were paid, and their stories. The author does speak on their contribution a bit, but I’m looking forward to seeing your take! I guess the most relevant question to your work- did you find that climbers were respectful? What about grateful? Also, any reading or training tips totally welcome but not expected. Thanks!

njmenninger3 karma

Happy to give ya all the training and reading and other tips ya want to the best of my ability! The film, I think, definitely brings out a different perspective than what appears in popular media. And I'm pumped to hear you're gunna give it a wawtch. Foreigners were super respectful but in truth, there's not much interaction to begin with. So there's this bridge between the two and often Porters and foreigners don't speak to each other. At least, not as much as the guide. I think there's a lot to learn from both on either side, and it would be cool to promote that exchange more so. Let me know what you think brotha! Louis L'Amour's - The Last of the Breed. Not so much about mountain climbing. But nature heavy and it'll give ya some strength to tackle harsh environments - it did for me. Seven Years in Tibet is a good one too.

txpakeha2 karma

Nice. I've read both of those books and you are right that both of them are about having the strength and carrying on against nature and any odds. True will power. Watching the movie now. Good on ya man. Question for you: How long were you in country? I'm like 8 minutes in to the movie and impressed by your use of the language.

njmenninger3 karma

It's a long story, but I taught myself Nepali in a few weeks before going my first time (went to swear to Noble Silence like in the James Bond movies and to Ice Climb - two more projects I wanted to write about). Ended up returning twice within a year and a half. 9 months total.

txpakeha2 karma

That is really impressive and you can tell the people are so appreciative of it. Can't wait to finish the movie. Congrats again man.

njmenninger2 karma

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts brotha.

runningman2991 karma

Is this on YouTube?

njmenninger1 karma

Hey man, naw. For now, it's only up on the link in the description. Work all right?

runningman2991 karma

Yeh. I’m lazy and just wanted to watch it on my tv

I’ll watch it this weekend though.

njmenninger1 karma

Ahh maybe use the browser to google it if its a smart tv? Or hdmi it? Definitely better on a tv

MakerGrey1 karma


njmenninger1 karma

Commonly but incorrectly known as Sherpas.. Many people only know them as such becuase of the media. Sherpas are just the predominating ethnic group in the mountains that first worked in many of the mountain jobs. But now there are countless other ethnic groups working in the mountains as well. But it's a funny thing, because even though it is incorrect, often, even in Nepal, Nepali people will also refer to porters working on Everest as Sherpas. As you'll see in the film. So it's a weird line to play. Definitely don't want to insult anyone. And am all on board for spreading the truth about what the terms really mean. But I am pumped to read your comment actually. Thanks for being straight up with ur thoughts.

8176364773884331 karma

Most adult men would struggle to carry 100kg for 100ft, nevermind all day up a mountain.

Is that weight accurate? How did you physically prepare?

loverofpeace092 karma

Not to discount his journey, it’s amazing and freaking rough as is but if you watch his movie you’ll see he only takes on the 100kg the last day/half day and yeah it does look like it’s pretty close to that weight.

I’ve hiked up a mountain (3000m vertical elevation gain) with 65lb (30kg) before on a 2 week expedition and it’s insane how much it slows you down vs a regular 30lb pack. 100kg is nuts!

8176364773884332 karma

Thanks for responding that makes more sense. I weigh around 100kg and have done loaded carries with that weight for sport training and it is no joke and that's on flat ground with a strong training base.

Regardless what a crazy challenge.

njmenninger1 karma

You could probably do as well as me if not better.

njmenninger2 karma

Spot on. 11 days with 100 kilos. That, would've been next level. You'd be surprised though. Once you get a hang of it, the namlo makes it easier in a way. You don't really feel the weight as much. Pretty cool..

njmenninger1 karma

Give or take a few pounds. But below is definitely right. Only one day (actually only 4-6 hours), and I definitely did struggle. A lot. A lot more than in the movie as well. Eventually started stopping every couple of minutes. My back was giving out and neck was just rocked. It was my 20th day in the mountains carrying weight, so I figured my body was as strong and acclimitzed as it was gunna be. It was also the lowest part of the trek too and apart from a few ups and downs, was generally pretty flat. I can only imagine what it'd be like for a full month...

steveisredatw1 karma

Don't know if the AMA is over but I'll ask anyway. Does the govt do their part in ensuring the rights of the Sherpas? What all must change for the Sherpas for them to have a good and safe living? Are the Sherpas generally insured if something unfortunate happens to them?

njmenninger2 karma

What's up man. Let it roll and thanks for commenting. As for the governmental side of things, good question. Fact is, it's not necssarily as clear as day. There is a union, and there is salary with insurance that's supposed to be met, but, for a myriad of different reasons, a lot, and probably way too many trekking agencies — whether they're just guides or full on companies — underpay their Porters (Sherpas are just the ethnic group! I worked with Tamang!) This is partially because tourists keep demanding lower prices and competition is just too thick (roughly 1,600 trekking companies in Nepal), so a lot of companies cut their prices to stay in business. But when that happens, the porters and guides suffer most. As for insurance, most porters should have insurance, but often many don't even know if they do or not. I can't speak too accurately on insurance, but I did speak with porters that told me they do not have might not, but it could be like the issue above.

In truth, it's both an enforcement and demand issue. As well as a few other issues sprinkkled in their as well.

So, what has to change. A universally raised and fair salary that is then enforced coupled with the willingness of tourists to meet this. Furthermore, honest communication between businesses and tourists regarding their porters in-pocket take home per day. And of course, the awareness of porter conditions so that if tipping is relied on, which it is right now, no one's unnessarily undertipped for their work - something that I was guilty of too before knowing more about what's going on.

Hope that answers your questions and let me know if you got any more.

Bishup441 karma

Well done man! Enjoyed the video greatly. Thank you. I’ve done the Renjo La truck and was amazed at some of the loads I saw porters carrying. Had you been to the region prior? Looks like you had a pretty good understanding of the language and culture. Any chance of doing it again, or was it a one and done experiment? Anything else on the horizon?

njmenninger1 karma

Ya, I'd done the trek without a porter, before I knew anything about the issue a year before. Then worked there that summer. And returned that third time, at the end of the year/beginning of next, for this.

Would I do it again, well, maybe on Everest. Up Everest, I mean, but I don't know. That would be next level. Not the biggest risk of death in trekking.

As for what's next, well, anything. Hopefully. But, some work. That's for sure. Another project. Don't wanna speak too soon.

Norgeroff1 karma

What color is your toothbrush?

njmenninger1 karma

I just had to check. Blue. But might've been redder there. Damn. I have no idea.

fattymaroon1 karma

Just watched your film, well done! Your stated goal is to raise awareness about the porters' lifestyle and low salary - what can the average joe do to help change their situation?

njmenninger1 karma

Honestly, I think much of it will be just trying to get this film out, to spread its message, to boost our credence and hopefully provide us a bit more legitamacy so that we can improve our chances at sucess when working with legistlative and political officals to make some change. So I kind of dodged your question there, but what can a average joe do —which we all really are — well, I think just that. To spread it and pass it around the message, of course only if you agree. Sounds boastful and pretentious like I'm just trying to get the film out there, which I do get that criticism, but I do believe that the more this film spreads, and the higher platforms we can get it onto, the greater chance we have at actually carry some weight in political and legislative discussions to boost salaries, etc.

mermaidhairdontcare0 karma

This sounds incredible. I’m going to watch the documentary tonight with my parents. Maybe I’m out of place to ask and certainly ignore me if you don’t want to answer but I can’t help but wonder what it was that really messed you up?

njmenninger2 karma

Honestly, it was a long time in the making ad probably not much more different than what any other 25ish year old endures. but in my case, that lifestyle of mine, the need to do something "big" no matter the cost on body or mind, ended up biting me back pretty hard right around the time of this film. And I say it messed me up, because this film is probably what set me back right, or righter, shot me through a existential crisis and into realizing, or at least trying to and starting to realize that there are some things, probably most things, that are way more imprtant than any famous dream of mine. And that there, in fact, some real, human propegated issues out there that probably need some attention...In all honesty, I didn't really know what privelage was. And this film, making it and remaking and remaking it, must've opened my eyes. Which at the time, felt some type of way for sure.

mermaidhairdontcare1 karma

It’s always a good thing to find reality and understand the different worlds we all live in. It sounds like it would’ve made me feel guilty or maybe lesser than seeing how hard they work and the conditions they’re under. The fact that you’ve been so impacted shows you have a good heart and have your feet on the ground which is a good place to be looking forward. I hope this story and, more importantly, you continue to open peoples minds. also, this has been a topic that’s intrigued me for a long time and hadn’t found the moment to educate myself on it deeper. So thanks for doing this when I have all the time possible and more :) :)

njmenninger1 karma

I'm by no means a perfect person though. Still got a looot to learn. And probably a lot of mistakes to make too. Hoping it gives you a better understanding of the area and what's going on! Enjoy and feel free to toss over your thoughts if u want.

txpakeha1 karma

This is a great question and a great answer. At 25 I found myself never having left America and sitting in my boss's office being told the company was being sold. I bought a ticket to NZ and lived out of a car while travelling and working and then did 3 months in SE Asia. I really knew what privilege was, but never truly felt it. After that, it became way more visceral to me and changed me in ways I'll never forget. Good on ya.

njmenninger1 karma

Ya exactly. Didn't wanna be that woe is me guy because I feel like a ton of people go through a similar thing, whether it's at home or in another country. Mine just ended up being on tape...cheers for the comment brotha. Much appreciated. Gotta make it down to NZ and down under for sure.