TAG Team’s Everest Journey, the Story of Miles and Memories!
It’s a known cliché that not everyone can climb Everest. But let’s elaborate it- not every strong man can climb Everest; not every experienced can climb Everest; and not every committed can climb Everest. And another one, not every spring morning brings the news of triumph on Everest. So, the success story of Everest is the concoction of so many things: skill, strength, fortitude; and the most important one, the benevolence of the Mountain itself. The Mountain will test so much of you – the sheer exhaustion, the anguish and the helplessness- and take you virtually to the edge of yourself – the liminal countdown between your life and death. You are all the time living the paradox; too close yet too distanced, too tranquil yet too turbulent, and too lively yet too close to mortality! Despite these, Everest, which is more than a monumental mountain; doesn’t cease to intrigue, allure and entice people. Every year, hundreds of people round the world are drawn to this Himalayan country to conquer Everest, or to put it straight, to let it be conquered! .
After two consecutive years of devastation and despair caused by avalanche and earthquake, TAGnepal also has a group of mountaineering enthusiasts to attempt Everest summit. Along with 9 support Sherpas, there were 9 members from International team including Facundo Arana (Argentina) the famous South American star, Corvalan Ulises Javier (Argentina), Ulehla Maria Alejandra (Argentina), Jean Manuel (Argentina), Valencia Coroma Aldo Hiram (Mexico), Nicolas Bossard (Switzerland), Elizabeth Barbara Patricia Rose (Canada), Azim Afif Bin Ishak (Malaysia) and Farul Aidib Bin Mahamad Yusoff (Malaysia). The Expedition means more than a regular adventure not only to the climbing members but also to the company, as it was the company’s maiden Everest Expedition. So, there was lots of anticipation and hope at play about this year’s Expedition.
From 8th April onwards, the members started milling about in Kathmandu. After some days of Kathmandu stay for last minute shopping and preparation, on12th April, the team including the crew set off for Tibet, the gateway to the northern face of Everest. A week’s travel through Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse and Shegar and finally to Base Camp was more than just acclimatization or bodily adjustment to the immediate environment. It was also about blending with the local culture, respecting people’s way of life and venturing on some soul-searching journey of connectivity. Either its disbelieving at the magnificence of Potala Palace, wandering at the lulling juniper scented Bharkhor Street, cleansing the soul at the sight of holy Yamdrok Lake, sharing butter tea with one of the nomads, posing with Mastifs or just being mummified at the wilderness of Tibetan plateau; the trekkers were left awe stricken throughout. The more they trod further in this trans Himalayan country, the more they went deeper into a mystical journey.
Once they reached Base Camp, their real journey started. Time was crucial and life critical; adapting to the newly gained altitude, training, tedious back and forth journey, health anomalies, homesickness and being reduced to an entity supplied just with some survival elements. For about five weeks, the trail continued and the morning of 23 May 2016 was not just another Monday. The whole team, every single member and Sherpa climber, finally made it to the summit! The dream, some might have pursued openly, some might have cornered in heart the whole life; finally came true. All stepped on the summit, an identical gesture; but what they achieved differs from person to person. For Jake Norton, a celebrated climber and photographer, it’s a place of catharsis. For, Sir Edmund Hillary, the Everest pioneer, the summit gave him a feeling of great satisfaction. So, the experiences can be myriad. However, the singular truth of this mountaintop is people will be overwhelmed with the vastness around and the insignificance of oneself amongst the infinitude.
Just a usual day at one of the Camps
The retracing journey, as any other return journeys, was quicker than going up. Mission was accomplished and the home was calling! But we can’t call it “hasty” as the journey back has claimed more lives than going up. Safe and steady! Amid some encounters with threatening weather now and then, they successfully landed at Base Camp-unharmed and victorious finally! Within a week, the team was in Lhasa and then after landed in Kathmandu, the entry and exit point of all trekkers and mountaineers in the Himalaya. All the members were welcomed overwhelmingly by TAGnepal and the well-wishers; everyone was with tanned face but great smiles, exhausted but not defeated! In one of the formal functions, the happy climbers shared words about their wordless moments.
Facundo Arana, the famous South American actor who is also a cancer survivor and working for the solidarity shared some words of insight. Recalling his memories, he said, “As we were coming to the North Col at 7,900 m the wind started blowing hard. I don’t know a lot of people who can listen to nature when it speaks. But Tendi (the expedition leader) was standing there facing the wind, and he said, ‘We have to go down now, we are not safe here.’ So we went down, and the next day the tents in camp 2 were all destroyed.” So, the charisma about climbing Everest is not just about steeping one’s foot at the top of a rock which has sustained to soar higher than others, its also about meeting some awakening moments, sometime being able to talk to Nature and sometime meeting people who can talk to her. Finally, every member returned home to be welcomed as heroes and achievers who have seen, learnt and most importantly outlived themselves.
This way, Everest journey for this season has come to an end with ecstasies, memories and awakenings. However, it has finished just for us! The Mountain will continue to Be there, making the humans realize both their insignificance and uncompromising worth of their life at the same time, sometime with malice and sometime with grace!