Of course it was assumed that our little team was trekking to Everest Base Camp once we were on the Everest Highway. That’s just what you do. Everyone who is there is either trekking to 16,800 feet at Base Camp (the beginning of the technical climb of Mt Everest) or they are trekking to Base Camp so they can attempt a summit climb of the same mountain. You know, that tall one…
Of course we’re not. We do it differently. My own plans rarely include staying in nice little expected boxes. But everyone asks us just the same, “You’re going to EBC then?” The only reason they didn’t ask us if we were attempting a summit is, well, we didn’t look much like Everest summit material. We brought no yaks, no huge blue barrels of supplies, or ropes or expeditions cooks.
But once you’re on the Everest Highway, everyone who is there is pointed toward Everest. We ran into some pretty interesting characters. I already mentioned Lakpa Rhita, but the Everest Highway is one of those weird places where my industry finds me. I’ve just traveled to the opposite side of the globe, and there, in the same lodge common room at 11,500 feet sat a half a dozen Seattle climbers from two local climbing companies (Rainier Mountaineering Inc. and Alpine Ascents – two of the biggies). I recognized most of their names and some of their faces. They were cordial and relaxed, twenty-something, in ear-flap hats and unshaven faces, like they’ve done this a dozen times. Some of them have.
And since this is my industry and my passion, I often forget what most people don’t know about Everest. When I returned the first time, half the people I talked to assumed that I had summitted the mountain. After all, I was up there, it can’t be that different, right? So here is a spectacular description of a day of climbing on Mt Everest. This comes days after you have acclimated at Base Camp. After the puja and the rest and walking 11 days to get there. And it comes even after several acclimation trips up and down the mountain to cache supplies and acclimate your body. This is the best description I have read of what a climb on Everest feels like. Enjoy.
Please note that this is happening up there right now. And the Sherpas set the fixed lines every year at the beginning of the season so the climbers can have the safety of ropes already in place by the time they are acclimated to the lower elevations of the mountain. Just something to ponder as you read the beginning of Everest climbing season 2013.