In my very first blog entry I wrote that this site wouldn’t be all about Everests. I even suggested it might never be about Everests. Yet here it is, looming above me; today I’m writing about Mt Everest. To bastardise the words of another, somewhat better scribbler however, I come not to praise Mt Everest, but to bury it.
Everest is a mountain beacon, drawing climbers and hikers like moths towards the light of its snow-white slopes. For hikers, Everest Base Camp is one of the ultimate trekking goals, funnelling through the Khumbu to worship at the mighty mountain’s feet.
Everest’s orbit is massive, and you sense its presence the moment you step from the plane in Lukla. Everyone here has one ambition above all others – to see Everest. The greatest disaster ahead would be a mountain shrouded in cloud.
It’s a goal that, weather permitting, doesn’t take long to realise. For most trekkers, it’s a walk of two or three days into Namche Bazaar, the Khumbu’s largest town, wrapped across alpine slopes high above the Dudh Kosi and Bhote Kosi rivers. At the head of the town is the park headquarters for Sagarmatha National Park, and from here comes the first view of Mt Everest. Each evening, trekkers stand awed by the scene ahead, but what are they really seeing?
Look at Everest objectively and it becomes apparent that the fuss is mostly in the numbers, not the aesthetics. From Namche Bazaar, the summit of Everest is a triangle of rock sharing space with Lhotse atop the rumpled form of Nuptse. None of the peaks looks any grander than another, and yet you inevitably find yourself fixed on Everest and the 332 metres of altitude it has over Lhotse. From this distance it looks less like metres than millimetres.
Cast your eyes right and another mountain comes into view. At 6812 metres, Ama Dablam is more than two kilometres lower than Everest, a rocky runt that doesn’t even figure on the list of the world’s 100 highest peaks. And yet if you put away the statistics and the knowledge, the thumb-like Ama Dablam casts a far more stately and statuesque figure, rising like a seat from which a god might rest to view Everest. Except that you’d expect a god to know better, to know that Ama Dablam itself is the Everest here.
Mt Everest (left) and Ama Dablam (right)
Adventure before Avarice hiked with World Expeditions.
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