Those not fully up to date on their Himalayan climbing history may not be aware that this year is the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest. On May 29 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay members of a British led expedition became the first men to stand on the summit of the world’s highest mountain. Not bad for a beekeeper from New Zealand even when in the company of a highly regarded Sherpa climber.
As part of the anniversary celebrations the Adventure Co is taking a group of trekkers to visit Everest Base Camp. The great news I will be joining them. The trek takes place from the May 25 – June 10 2013 so we will be in location for the actual anniversary. Publicising a trip so far ahead is not my usual style but returning to the Himalaya is going to bring back some of my most treasured memories and sharing seems appropriate.
Having trekked and climbed in the region on a number of occasions I have an special affinity for the area. I can still vividly recall my first glimpse of a Himalayan giant; breath-taking. Hyperbole maybe frowned upon in travel writing terms but when describing the scenery of the region terms like stunning, awe inspiring or majestic only barely seem adequate. Everyday, every scene seems improve upon the last and I cannot wait for the opportunity to return.
The mountains are where I feel most comfortable and for this reason it will seem like a homecoming. The other reason I am so keen to attend is all my images from the Himalaya are on slide film. It will be great to have some digital photography to share at last.
Visiting Kathmandu is another highlight of the trip, one of the world’s most evocative cities. It almost holds mythical status, the capital of Nepal has a history stretching back over 2,000 years and is home to more than 1 million people. There will be much to see here, holy men and traders from all over Asia mix with global travellers in the colourful bazaars and labyrinth like streets.
The landscape changes dramatically over the period of the trek into Base Camp. After the initial flight into Lukla the trail will take us through lush rhododendron and fir forests in Sagarmatha National Park, acclimatising on the climb up to the famous Namche Bazaar. I am particularly keen to return to Thyangboche for the views of the Everest massif which includes Lhotse and Nuptse as well as Ama Dablam which is regarded as one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. We’ll pass through a number of villages, including Dingboche near the Imja River which has an internet cafe and where it’s possible to play a game of billiards at around 14,800 feet.
Base Camp is another world altogether, the mix of nationalities, climbers and trekkers with their entourage of Sherpas, a high altitude tented village in a multitude of colours. Prayer flags, discarded oxygen bottles piled high and memorials to the lives lost on the mountain are staple memories of the site. It will be interesting to see how it has changed, hopefully for the better though now that climbing has become commercial it is likely to have become even more of a circus.
There are many reasons why this trip excites me and I hope you can forgive my indulgence in posting about it so early. Playing even a tiny part in the celebrations of this anniversary year maybe described as a once in a lifetime experience. It is a chance to remember one of the greatest mountaineering feats of the last century in a time when the motives were personal and national rather than commercial.
The Adventure Co is donating $20 to an Everest environmental project for every participating trekker, a small but vital contribution. If trekking to Base Camp is a lifelong ambition why not join me this May it would be great to share the experience with a few of you for real.