The story behind the name.

The story behind the name.

The Cactus team have a real connection to Nepal and the Himalayas.

Not from an aggressive "hey, lets go climb a mountain and earn bragging rights with all our yuppie mates" direction but simply because it's an incredible environment with some amazing people.

It's simple and calm and serene and awesome and we all feel at peace (something increasingly rare these days) when we're there.

10 years ago (back in 2015), co-founder Ben & family first visited Nepal. This trip included trekking over the Cho La Pass and up to Everest Base Camp (EBC) - a perfect excuse to test some gear.  

They returned last year, this time round with the two boys (more commonly known as the Cactus social media crew) and their partners. While maybe the internet connectivity was better, nothing else had changed - still the same incredibly warm people, living simple lives in the shadows of amazing mountains.

The last time we visited, we grew really attached to one of the Sherpa guides who came along with us.

Norbu was a simple farmer, who supplemented his income by guiding expeditions to all the big mountains we've read about all our lives. This is the guy who, after spending the day carrying a stupid amount of weight on his back, joined Ben for a run up a 5400m trekking peak to get in a bit of extra exercise.

So, when some friends of the brand decided to go to Nepal to trek the Three Passes route this summer, we figured it might be a really nice thing to take some gear to our mate Norbu. Especially since we'd just designed a brand new insulated jacket named in honour of him.

Taking a Norbu to Norbu. Not some dumb marketing campaign with beautiful stage-managed models and professional photographers, just taking a gift to a new friend who deserved it.

Our friends, the awesome Annie and Lizzie managed to trek the 3 passes (Kongma La 5,550m, Cho La 5,420m, and Renjo La 5,360m), head up to EBC, and still had energy left to tick off a bunch of other peaks during the 3 weeks they were there.

As it turned out, Cactus planning being what it is, we didn't manage to make the connection - Norbu was off (no surprise) climbing a mountain somewhere.

Lizzie and Annie built a similar connection with another guide, Phurba Tashi. Phurba, like so many Sherpa, is a quiet legend. This is a guy who welcomed Lizzie and Annie into his home to stay with his family for a few days after the big trip.

Phurba Tashi has climbed thirty six 8,000mtr+ peaks, which includes Everest 21 times, Lhotse twice, Cho-Oyu five times, and many many more.

But it wasn't the number of Everest ascents, or peaks climbed that made Phurba such an incredible human, it was the stories that came along with them. Climbing is inevitably dangerous, especially in an environment like this. Phurba recalled countless tragic stories of friends, family, and climbers who'd lost their lives during his expeditions & the Nepal earthquakes. Despite all this, Phurba believes that "a source of great joy & blessing will often come after great sorrow" and his optimism is something that was truly inspiring. 

Phurba's father was a cook and went on various expeditions alongside an incredible Kiwi, Sir Edmund Hillary. His children grew up attending the school in Khumjung that Ed built. Phurba lives a life much better than the generations before him.

And so, in what is a somewhat typical non-circular "Cactus coming full circle" story - Annie and Lizzie gave their new mate Phurba a brand new Norbu jacket.

He loves it and next time we head over there we're pretty sure that it'll still be going strong.