The Snowman Trek in Bhutan (Part II)

Views from the trek | Photo: Veronika Švecová

Views from the trek | Photo: Veronika Švecová

Veronika Švecová is literally in love with mountains! She is 36 years old, from the Czech Republic and has been living in Brussels (Belgium) for the last 10 years. Even though she is busy working as an EU Competition lawyer, she doesn’t see her office job as a barrier for chasing mountaineering dreams and spending holidays close to nature.

In the first part of her interview (which you can access here), she told us many details about how she ended up doing one of the most difficult treks in the world - the “Snowman Trek in Bhutan”. Next, she motivates others to follow her path on chasing dreams.

Do you feel fear during trekking expeditions?

During the Snowman trek in Bhutan I did not feel much fear as it was an organised trek with full support, including 2 local guides. Therefore, the feeling of happiness prevailed.

However, during other trips to Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru (i.e. those I did solo), there I always encountered feelings of happiness mixed with fear. It feels amazing to sit on a ridge or anywhere on a trail and sleep in remote high altitude places being surrounded by snowy peaks. It fills my heart with so much happiness to be there and enjoy the beauty and quietness. But at the same time, I am aware that this brings along certain risks (injury, altitude sickness,..) especially when I am there alone and have usually no mobile reception. Therefore there is always a limited dosage of fear, which is also good to have as it prevents you from taking risks which you are not feeling able to manage.

So many years trekking in the most remote areas of the world. Did you make good friends along the way?

Yes of course! Especially when travelling solo brings you so many new friendships and not just short term ones. For example, during my first big trip to Patagonia I met a really nice girl from Brazil. Even though we spent only half a day together we exchanged contacts and stayed in touch on facebook. This August, I flew to Bolivia and had an unexpectedly long stopover in Sao Paolo. I tried to contact her and she did not hesitate a minute to come to the airport together with her dad. They came to pick me up and drove me to her home where I spent amazing 3 hours with her family. During the 9 big trips I have done so far, I met many amazing people like her. It is what I really treasure and love about adventure travelling: meeting people in hostels, on local buses or on treks. You come across interesting people and learn so many life stories, which help you to understand and shape your own one.

Resting during the Snowman trek in Bhutan - Photo: Veronika Švecová

Resting during the Snowman trek in Bhutan - Photo: Veronika Švecová

Did trekking and mountaineering change you? How?

Yes, a lot. Going to the most remoted areas of the world and be with and around people who live in the hardest conditions helped me realise what really matters in life and to appreciate simple things, keeping my feet on the ground.

It also thought me a lot about humbleness and respect for life and it helps me discover strengths in me, I never knew I had. And it keeps on teaching me every time I go to the mountains.

Once, in the Himalayas, I found a beautiful quote from Anatoli Boukreev, a Russian climber, who described what I feel during my trips:

"The mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambitions to achieve. They are my cathedrals, the houses of my religion. Their presence is grand and pure. I go to them as all human beings go to worship. In their presence I attempt to understand my life, to purify myself of earthly vanity greed and fear. On their altar I try to perfect myself physically and spiritually. From their vantage point, I view my past, dream of the future and with unusual acuteness I experience the present. My ascents renew my strength and clear my vision. They are the way I practice my religion. In the mountains I celebrate creation, on each journey I am re-born.”

Mountaineers always have dreams for future expeditions. What are your plans for the future?

{She smiles} That is true! Indeed, it is usually already on the plane back home from my big trip that I dream of the next one. One of my dreams and a plan for the next season is to do the 27-day great Karakoram Traverse trek in the Karakoram Mountains of Pakistan. Besides, I would also like to go back to Peru again for a third time! I would like to climb a few more 5,000 and 6,000 peaks to improve my technical climbing skills as the Peruvian cordilleras are a real paradise for mountaineers.

Snowman Trek in Bhutan - Photo: Veronika Švecová

Snowman Trek in Bhutan - Photo: Veronika Švecová

What would you like to tell somebody who needs motivation to follow your steps?

I would just say three things:

  • Do NOT be afraid to leave your comfort zone!

  • Never stop chasing your dreams!

  • It’s never too late!

It is easy to sit on a couch or behind your desk and just dream and feel what a pity that you cannot make your dreams become true, whether because of your job or because it seems too difficult or too challenging. I do not deny, it does take some courage to leave your comfort zone but if you manage, the reward has no borders and it will mark your life forever.

I was a girl who never hiked a hill higher than 1,600 m until I was 20. I never climbed until I was 30. I work as a competition lawyer and have the typical and quite demanding office job with sometimes very long hours. 10 years ago I did not imagine I would be telling my stories in an interview. With my life story I understood that they are just our excuses that hold us back from chasing our dreams. So forget all the reasons why it won't work and believe in the one reason why it will!

“Do not be afraid to leave your comfort zone!

Never stop chasing your dreams!

It’s never too late!”

Veronika Švecová

Thanks for your inspiration Veronika! See you in the mountains!