Maryville Adjunct Professor Paul Kravitz traveled to Mount Everest Base Camp, a visit that included intensive training to acclimate himself to a mountain environment and its fair share of adventure. Where else in the world do you move over for yaks along your path, while still being able to stop in at a Starbucks in Nepal to download fresh book titles onto your e-reader?
“It was a magnificent experience,” Kravitz said of his November trip, calling Nepal “a paradise for people who want to do trekking in the mountains.” Kravitz refers to his travels as treks, explaining that mountain climbing is a different endeavor. However, his journey was no small undertaking. He traveled for eight days through and up the mountains to reach Everest Base Camp at an elevation of 17,400 feet, taking two days to rest and adjust to higher altitudes along the way, a standard practice.
He also traveled to Kala Patthar, a mountain known for its views of the Everest summit, reaching a height of 18,200 feet. He spent another six days making his way back to the town of Lukla, where he flew into and out of Tenzing-Hillary Airport, named in honor of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. Kravitz notes the airport arrival and departure were also part of the challenge _ changing weather and a short, steep airstrip have given this airport a reputation as the most dangerous in the world.
Kravitz retired three years ago from Nestle Purina Pet Care, where he worked on marketing and marketing research related to dog and cat food. He decided to focus on four main areas in his retirement: teaching, fitness and health, travel and giving back to nonprofit organizations.
His Maryville involvements include two of the areas he has devoted time to in retirement. He teaches in the John E. Simon School of Business on marketing and consumer behavior. He’s also a member of the National Leadership Council of Maryville’s Duchesne Society; the council is made up of alumni and community leaders who provide direction and support to an annual donors’ society at the University.
His trip to Everest Base Camp aligned with the other two: fitness and travel. Kravitz, 64, says he stays in shape, but about two months before his trip he began to train specifically for his time in the Himalayas. He went to Creve Coeur Park with his hiking boots, poles and a 20-pound backpack. Four or five days a week, he walked a hill there for two or three hours a day. “I had a friend who came out with me to walk the hill. Once!” he explains of how arduous the preparation was.
Another friend who had been to Nepal previously linked him up with a business known for providing guides and porters near Everest. Once he arrived in Nepal, he toured Katmandu before heading to Lukla. “Each day was a sensory overload of sights and sounds and smells.” He explained that on his way to Everest, there are villages every few hours apart. So he’d stay in lodges, get up for breakfast and head out on the trail to the next village, where he met people from all over the world. He’d hike higher during the day, and then come down a distance for shelter to avoid getting sick from the high altitude. “You hike high and sleep low,” he explained, saying he did pass people who had to be taken down the mountain due to such illness. From his photos, showing him crossing suspension bridges, seeing villagers drying rice outdoors and visiting a Buddhist shrine, it’s clear his trip truly was an adventure.
When Kravitz isn’t off on a mountain adventure, he spends time with his wife, Fran, and two children, 32-year-old Michael and 30-year-old Debbie.