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Boston Strong: See One of Mt. Everest’s Only American-Born Porters at Work

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Climbing Everest is no easy feat for anyone. But that’s doubly true when you’re carrying someone else’s gear.

“The Porter” documentary follows the story of Boston-born Nathaniel Menninger — one of the only foreign-born people to become a porter in Nepal for trekkers going up Everest. Climbing Everest is a big commitment, not just physically but also monetarily. The cost of training, permits, guides, gear, food, and insurance can easily add up to $60,000-100,000.

Menninger wanted to climb to the top of Everest, but he knew the cost was a barrier. So he signed up to put in the hard work to be a porter so he could make the trek for free.

Porters are essentially local guides who portage and carry gear. They use headbands rigged to large baskets or backpacks to carry the loads, which can weigh up to 150 pounds. Sometimes pack animals are also used along the route to Everest Base Camp.

Menninger worked as a standard guide for a full season in Nepal and learned Nepalese. He lived off the wages and rations that all porters are paid, and he stayed in porters’ quarters, not hotels. He assimilated into the local workforce. He learned local customs: how to eat, how to find shortcuts along the roads, etc.

But most of all, Menninger learned the meaning of adventure.

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