Everest base camp
Hope! It was this word on flag that caught my eye first on reaching the milestones wrapped in prayer flags and dedications that mark ‘you are here at the Everest base camp’. A simple message, yet such a powerful, and moving one and especially to find it here, in what feels like a remote, hostile, no-man's land. Isn't that what makes us all tick at the end of the day? the hope for a better day, hope for love and happiness, hope for money which we think could lead to happiness, hope for a better world even maybe, hope to be a better person, hopefully? It was a dedication to 2 climbers who lost their lives... not a message of glory or achievement or ambition or courage...just hope! It was beautiful and moving.
We had been seeing dramatic mountains all along the trip, since we left Namche at some 3000-odd metres; but somehow, just there, at that moment, they seemed even more dramatic, even more harsh, yet even more glorious and most of all, alive. Like a breathing presence you could feel. Like a force to give in to. Many of us make our pilgrimages, sometimes in search of something greater than us. And for me this place, that moment, these mountains have been the closest that has come to that. I felt insignificant, not in a bad way, but in way that throws larger perspective on some of the smaller trials of lives I suppose. Everything before this was worth it, to have simply gotten to this point.
I am not entirely sure why it was this charged or intense. I remember feeling exhausted and questioning my sanity when I got to the crater top of Kili. I had to get off the mountain to realise the joy of the climb. And here I was pondering on the philosophical and profound. Maybe it was the height catching up with me after all.
Around me, people were elated... everyone was taking turns with rocks to get photos with the base camp site in the backdrop, another memory to lock away for the future. There was that girl who I had seen struggling up, holding up messages on placards for her photos, probably to send to her family and friends. We had fared the altitude and had made it after 8 days of trekking through sun, rain, painful-freeze-us-to-the-bone winds, cold and even snow. Of course, there were those for who this was just the prelude. They would be spending the next 30-40 days here and in even higher altitudes and worser conditions as they attempted to summit Mt.Everest. Part of me was awe struck by them, but part of me doesn't fully understand. I thought of some of those whom we met on the trek - some traveling by themselves to explore these mountains, some 50-60 year olds I wouldn't have imagined in these parts if I had met them on the road on an ordinary day, but still with dreams and to-do lists. Some families with kids to share this experience together. I thought of my family, of life and very many random things which come back to you in the oddest of times I suppose. But it felt good. It felt damn good to have made it here.
Everest base camp