[I know, the photo runs over the edge, but I needed it this size so you can see details]
I took this as a simple documentary photo. I meant to capture the group, pre-dawn, in front of Everest, getting ready for an event. I know it’s nothing spectacular (or even close) visually, since I was shooting right into the coming dawn, against the mountains, but I got more than a simple document to remember.
When I looked back at this photo (after almost forgetting about it) I saw small story points in it that made it more valuable to my memory. They are things that I didn’t catch while I was there, so it serves as a window into a place I have only partially been. It feels like a photo that someone else took. Here are some of the things that occurred to me only long after I’d been home:
-The repeating pillows of moss-covered rock at our feet was different than everywhere else we’d walked. It looks like pillow lava here and I remember how difficult it was to walk across. The spaces between some of the pillows were the exact right size to wedge a foot and twist an ankle.
-Everyone was moving slow – it was about 6 am, air was thin, but there is one of the musicians in the upper left, posing and playing to cameras even on the tough terrain at this hour. Typical and ticklish to realize. I guess I’d gotten used to that variety of theatrics by that point. It was all around me, but I didn’t notice it happening at this moment until I saw the photo back home. It’s even more amusing when you realize that the police man has been employed to take the posed photo (the kneeling guy in blue fatigues).
-The 12 string guitar is laying unattended on the rocks, half covered by the banner, in the middle of the activity, noted but unharmed. I think we were about 3 minutes from standing in a shivering pile and singing when I snapped this.
Nuptse dwarfs Everest from this vantage (Nuptse on the right, Everest dark in the center behind the ridge). Chomolungma doesn’t look like the tallest even from here.