Dominic Gramatte, or Dom as he’s known from his blog DomOnTheGo, is an LGBT adventurer with an impressive resume.
Dom began blogging in 2015 when he was granted a seven month sabbatical from work. He took advantage of the opportunity and has since touched down on six out of the seven continents, conquered Kilimanjaro, navigated Patagonia, camped in the Serengeti and swam in the amazon.
His latest adventure: Everest Base Camp. With Out Adventures’ help, Dom trekked Everest with his partner Robert Green (Rob) for Rob’s 40th birthday this past April.
Although Dom will be posting all of his Everest content on DomOnTheGo in the coming weeks, we’re a notoriously impatient bunch in the Out Adventures’ office. Naturally, we had to Skype Dom at his home in London, England to get a preview of his Everest adventure.
So you’ve been on two trips with Out Adventures?
Yup. The first one was in 2014. It was the trip through Peru. We did Out Adventures’ trek to Machu Picchu. It also goes through Ollantaytambo and Lima and Cuzco.
And then the other one was Everest Base Camp (EBC). I reached out to Rob, and we were planning this trip last year. Obviously I had a fantastic time with Out Adventures in Peru and I knew for this adventure type trip I needed help with the logistics. So I reached out to Rob (Sharp, owner of Out Adventures) and did a bespoke trip. So it worked out that my partner Rob and I did that for his 40th birthday. We coordinated it so my Rob could have his 40th birthday sleeping over at EBC. Which was phenomenal.
Was this your partner Rob’s goal or was it a cool spontaneous adventure for his 40th? Tell me about how Mt. Everest came about.
Everest was, for me, something I’d always wanted to do. Even before I met Rob I’d been addicted to the documentaries, addicted to the mountaineering aspect of it, addicted to the fact that its not a simple thing just anyone can do. It really is a challenge and I love that when it comes to Everest – unlike any other treks around the world – there’s an element of respect towards the mountain. And the Buddhism and the history and all of that tied around it, to me thats always been really, really interesting. So when we were talking about our sabbatical, I said to Rob “Let’s look at places where we can actually utilize the time we have to really enjoy it.” You know, you can go on weekend trips to anywhere. But you can’t do a weekend trip to Everest.
For me its always been a dream to go to EBC and camp overnight. So I positioned it to Rob who may not be as adventurous as me, but he really bought into the idea of having a really, really cool experience for his 40th.
So did it live up the expectation?
For me, absolutely. For him, absolutely.
I think Rob was ready to leave base camp the morning after his birthday. He was ready to get down off the mountain because it was over two weeks we were on the mountain trekking without the comforts of home. But for me, when I look back at our seven months on sabbatical, EBC was by far the highlight of the whole trip.
What kind of benefits do you get out of a challenge like Everest?
For me personally, I love putting myself in positions out of my comfort zone and telling myself, “You know what? You’re going to get to 5,500ft at base camp and you know you’re going to do some day treks that’ll get you to 5,700ft. And its going to be challenging. You will not be able to sleep and you will be dehydrated and you’re not going to have an appetite. But you can do it.”
For me, being in the mountains, getting there and having the Himalayas around me is phenomenal. It’s unlike any other feeling I get when I travel. I don’t get that feeling when I go on city breaks. Cities are great: there’s lots to do, you meet lots of people, you get lots of bars and restaurants but there’s not the emotional feeling that I get when I’m standing at base camp knowing that a small number of people have been there and a lot of people have lost their lives.
It’s great setting a goal for myself and achieving it.
How can trekkers prepare for Everest?
I would say, your preparation isn’t as much as you’d think it would be. I think people with a general fitness level will be fine. Its not a technical trek. It’s not particularly steep. What people have to be aware of, which you can’t really prepare for, is the high altitude. We saw people well into their 80s doing the trek. We saw kids doing the trek. So its not really about being a certain shape, size or age. I think general fitness levels are fine. Its just monitoring how your body reacts to high altitudes.
Any recommendations to best enjoy Everest?
I think there’s value to go in with a guide and go in with a sherpa. Not only are you giving people in that region the ability to make money – especially important given the recent earthquake – but you’re doing yourself a favour because the local knowledge I got from our guide Prem and even the translated conversations I had with the sherpa, I wouldn’t get on my own if I wasn’t assisted. While you have the option to go at it alone, i feel for me I left Everest with a better understanding of the area and a better appreciation for the villages, I got the opportunity to meet locals. Our guide made our experience that much more special.
Was there anything that surprised you about the EBC trek or your experience?
I thought the resilience of the people was quite interesting. There is a reliance on the locals to help make an Everest trek all happen. Locals in the villages along the way, providing accommodation and providing restaurants. A lot of the areas – the Himalayas, even Kathmandu – were devastated by the earthquake. And while you could see the damage done by the earthquake, you couldn’t tell that by the people. They just carried on. I thought that was quite interesting.
Let’s switch topics and talk about your blog. How did it get started?
Dom on the Go is kind of a hobby of mine. It developed and evolved.
First, I travelled when I was studying abroad in Germany. I visited all the European countries I could. Now London makes for an amazing base to travel. I’ve been to six of the seven continents. So, I’ve done lots and lots of travelling.
But there was a shift in the type of travel I do. Up until 2013, my travel was always city breaks and beach trips. There was a point a few years ago when I was in Australia and I was in Melbourne and I just was not excited. I knew I should be more excited being on the other side of the world and seeing this city, and I just wasn’t. So I started craving something new with the type of trips.
Shortly after, a friend of mine invited me to this European gay ski week in 2014. And he said hey come with us. I was in the mountains, on the alps, in France, on skis and I had this breath of fresh air that I couldn’t describe it beyond the phrase ‘it hit me like a brick wall.’ This was so much more exciting and rewarding and interesting than city trips. Now don’t get me wrong, I love going on city trips and I will go through cities. But cities are now for me steps to the next adventure.
After my ski trip, the next trip i booked was Out Adventures’ Machu Picchu Inca Trail trip. I’ve been camping in the Serengeti, swimming in the amazon, hiking God knows what mountain all over the place. I just get a different excitement out of adventure travel.
My family hasn’t had the opportunity to do a lot of travelling. So i’ve always wanted to find a way to take those stories that travelling has kind of given me and find a way to share it. That’s where Dom on the Go came in.
For me its fun, its an outlet and hopefully it gets others excited to have adventures of their own.
Travel blogging is a pretty saturated field. Tell me about your point-of-view, your perspective, what makes your blog unique.
There are a lot of people out there travel blogging. For sure. For me, there is the focus on adventure travel and more specifically affordable luxury adventure. You’re not going to find tips and tricks to save money on my blog. I’m not going to be the resource for those looking to backpack. I’m not a backpacker. I like things, I like big trips, I like to have those challenges so to speak. And a lot of those destinations aren’t cheap. I don’t really know the right way to phrase it here but there’s a lot of people talking about backpacking, and going through South East Asia and, you know, coach surfing. I’m not doing that kind of travel. My travel is much more like Out Adventures.
What have been your top experiences? Where have you been in the world that you’ve loved?
I think one of the most amazing places I’ve been was Iceland. We spent some time there a couple years ago and I was just blown away by the natural beauty. We did things like glacier trekking and swam in a fissure.
I would also say, the three weeks we spent travelling through Patagonia. Patagonia is a region shared by Chile and Argentina. And it has some of South America’s most famous treks. Not to mention, some of the biggest treks in the world are there. As you navigate South, Patagonia gets more remote and the landscapes get more dramatic and the height gets more challenging. For anyone who likes the outdoors, for anyone who likes hiking, after Everest, Patagonia is the place to go.
I’m doing Patagonia extensively on Dom on the Go right now with itineraries and pictures. It’s insane. It’s just really, really cool.
Where are you heading next?
Rob and I tend to plan at least two big trips every year. We’re talking about what trips those are going to be now. We’re talking about possibly Madagascar and we’re talking about Japan. We want to get onto MT. Fiji.
*Photos courtesy of Dominic Gramatte
Out Adventures’ next Everest Base Camp Adventure begins October 2017.