Remembering the Sherpas

Sherpas are built for high altitude (check out this video by Stan Lee’s superhumans on Ang Rita Sherpa).

 

On the way to everest base camp, we came across a bunch of sherpas carrying loads of 75-80 kgs and we were all dumbstruck on how easily they were carrying those loads, while we were having trouble walking with our light sacks. At Namche Bazaar we heard the story about how some sherpas lost their lives and we were all wondering on how the mood would be at some of the higher camps.

 

We met an Indian climbing group and they filled us in on the events. Apparently a group of climbing sherpas (climbing sherpas are different from guide sherpas) are always the first on everest and they lay the initial hooks, ladders and lines. This year unfortunately an avalanche hit Khumbu icefall killing around 16-17 sherpas.

everest

 

The sherpa¬†from darjeeling pointed out where the avalanche occurred and unfortunately that meant that all everest climbs for 2014 were cancelled. Infact the sherpas had threatened to cut off anyone’s legs who ignored this dictat.

 

That was one sad part of this trip both for the sherpas as well as the climbers (a young girl from mumbai, a police inspector from aurangabad and a climber from uttar pradesh) who had put in a lot of time and money in this venture.

 

Today while randomly browsing the interwebs, I came across a wsj article on the death of the sherpas, prompting this post. Have a read, its pretty good.

Everest base camp trek

Everest base camp trek 2014

Day 0 – Fly to Kathmandu
Day 1 – Kathmandu sightseeing
Day 2 – Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla. Walk to Phakding.
Day 3 – Phakding to Namche Bazaar
Day 4 – Acclimatization day at Namche Bazaar. Walk up to everest view hotel
Day 5 – Namche Bazaar to Debuche.
Day 6 – Debuche to Dingboche
Day 7 – Acclimatization day at Dingboche
Day 8 – Dingboche to Lobuche
Day 9 – Lobuche to Gorakshep. Walk up to Kala Patthar and back to Gorakshep
Day 10 – Walk to everest base camp and back to gorakshep
Day 11 – Gorakshep to Lobuche
Day 12 – Lobuche to Debuche
Day 13 – Debuche to Monju
Day 14 – Monju to Lukla
Day 15 – Stuck at Lukla (flights canceled)
Day 16 – Still no flight from Lukla
Day 17 – Walk from Lukla to Payun
Day 18 – Payun to Numthala
Day 19 – Numthala to Solleri
Day 20 – Jeep ride to Kathmandu

Going out for a little walk

For anyone remotely familiar with me, you’ve noticed (by now hopefully) that I’ve gone off the beaten path in the last couple of years. Now if you are in my parent’s group you will have no idea why I’m doing the things I’ve been doing.

A lot of people remember George Mallory’s quote about why he climbed Everest: ‘Because its there’. Now for those who follow Ben Saunders (Polar Ben), might remember his incredibly inspiring TED talk about ‘Why Bother Leaving the House‘, a topic on which I had blogged earlier. Ben quoted George Mallory’s response to what is the use of climbing Everest.

My answer must at once be, ‘It is of no use. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron.
If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.’

Now I’ve wanted to go checkout Everest for a while but after seeing the Ben Saunders talk, I definitely knew I had to do it. So in the spirit of leaving the house, I’m heading on an everest trek next week. Now I don’t want to climb everest (yet), but I definitely want to go sit on Everest’s footsteps and maybe get a feel of how Mallory felt when he first encountered the mountain. To make things slightly challenging, I’ve scheduled back to back treks. So the day I reach Kathmandu from everest, I’m flying to Himachal to go on the Saar Pass trek. I’ve never gone for a month long trek where I’m walking every single day but hopefully my body holds up and I feel the same joy for life that Mallory once talked about.