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Looking Back
Kathmandu to Everest

Lloyd Johnson
9 x 12 P.B. 226pgs.

I undertook this adventure to Nepal, this trek from Kathmandu to Mt. Everest, not as a conqueror of mountains, but rather to create a photographic journal of the people, their culture, and their natural environment.

The year was 1973, to travel beyond the confines of the city of Kathmandu was to step back in time. The three week trek was entirely without electricity, indoor plumbing, telephones, guesthouses or hotels. I passed few fellow travelers and saw fewer cameras.

Out of respect for the individuality of the people and their way of life, all photographs were taken as observed, never set up or posed. I simply tried to capture and record spontaneous moments of life, as they were, in this unique place and time.

Originally I planned to publish the images captured on this journey soon after my return to the United States. However, because I was so profoundly moved by my experiences in this highly traditional culture, I was reluctant to expose the Nepalese way of life. During my trek, hints of the intrusion of western culture were just beginning to be evidenced. I could not bring myself to exploit the opportunity to encourage the greater interest of outsiders at that time. Still, I know that the way of life I witnessed and shared, a culture unchanged for centuries, has undergone profound changes over the past three decades.

Because the extensive written journal of my adventure now seems less than precise, I regret any inaccuracies which may be reflected here. Yet on a spiritual level, I recall this journey through the doorway to the top of the world as though it was only yesterday. To the people who welcomed me into their homes, for the intimacy of nearly a month with the Sherpas and porters, and the many kindnesses shown me, I remain profoundly grateful.

It is my hope that this visual document will reverberate among my fellow travelers to Nepal — past, present, and future — and also among those not fortunate enough to travel there themselves, inspiring respect for the people, their customs, and a culture that developed over centuries of migration and settlement.