Nepali Times
Life Times
A trekker's best friend


ALPINE CANINE: The dog that followed Helen Jean's expedition up to Thyangbo Glacier stayed behind in Thame, then joined the Climate Smart Celebrity Trekkers on the Great Himalayan Trail and walked right across Nepal. She was named 'Setuk' and posed with Apa and Dawa Sherpa and the team in Gorkha in early March (below). Setuk later met a friend and stayed behind in Kaski. The celebrity trekkers have now adopted a new dog (right).
"Her name is Setuk," I read in Nepali Times #594, about a yellow eye-browed dog that had joined Apa and Dawa Sherpa in their Great Himalayan Trail expedition. But the pictures looked oddly familiar; in fact the dog looked exactly like Benny, befriended us during our trek to Thyangbo Glacier near Thame last November. It was rumoured that she had been seen at Camp 2 (6,400m) on Mt Everest the previous season.

I'm not quite sure how far along the track she joined us. Benny was a carefree waif, trotting along with her tail held high and a smile on her face. She neither asked to join in, nor demanded anything from us. She was simply there, happy to be a part of the group. I don't remember a whine or a whimper. It was as if she knew her choice and would bear the consequences, content despite the difficulties of the mountainous environment.

We named her Benny, after our Australian friend Ben, and she quickly became a favourite. Raksha and Mingma from our group became her custodians, finding her a mat to lie on and keeping her sheltered with our additional warm clothes. At night, back at camp, she would sleep in the vestibule of their tent, protected from the jaws of prowling beasts

The celebrity trekkers have now adopted a new dog.
Benny was a true mountain dog, resilient to the climate and altitude. Even the harshness below Thyangbo Glacier at 4500m didn't intimidate her. Off she would leap after our climbing guides, hopping along the rocks of the moraine. Light-footed on the snow, she would be way ahead of us, her bare paws surprisingly unperturbed by the cold.

We were working on our mountaineering skills on the way, making stops to haul each other in simulated crevasse rescues, building snow caves and snow belays, and practicing ice-climbing up a glacier wall. These long stops would surprise Benny, as if she was a regular trekker. She would lie down on the snow, watch us with interest, but cooled down rapidly with the inactivity of a curious observer.

She accompanied us down to Thame a few days later, happily settling on the front doorstep of our lodge. We left her there as we descended to Namche Bajar, hoping she would choose the quiet, safe village as her new home.

It did not seem like a mere coincidence that the GHT team had met their companion in Thame, where we had left Benny. Upon reading about Setuk, I got in touch with Dawa Sherpa, who has confirmed that she is indeed our own Benny. In true spirit of a trekker, Benny has continued her journey.

Excerpted from Helen Jean's blog


In his Nepali Times article ('New canine member joins the Great Himalayan Trail' #594) Dawa Sherpa wrote about how his expedition adopted Setuk, and how she seemed sure-footed as she crossed the arduous Teshi Laptsa Pass into Rolwaling. Setuk later walked right across Nepal. But in Kaski's Ghandruk village she fell in love with a local dog and stayed behind.

Setuk taking a break during her journey to Thyangbo Glacier with Helen Jean and her team.

She was named 'Setuk' and posed with Apa and Dawa Sherpa and the team in Gorkha in early March.

Read also:

The Great Himalayan Trek ends

Making Nepal (climate) resilient

"Thank you, Ma", ELIZA STHAPIT
Nothing in the world will be an adequate Mother's Day present for the person who gave me the gift of life

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)