Blissful HeightsBy : Deepak Ranade Dec 20, 2010 | Views (229) | Responses (3) Facing Mt Everest for the first time, Deepak Ranade discovers that his ego had simply vanished at the sight of the magnificent canvas before him.
The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla in a Dornier aircraft was nerve-racking. As it made the final descent, it seemed we were headed directly for the mountains. Suddenly, the runway appeared at the edge of the valley and we all heaved a sigh of relief after a bumpy touchdown. We had a hurried meal and set off from Lukla on one of the most challenging, but exhilarating treks of our lives.
One can’t help a feeling of awe that creeps in as one treads the same path that legends like Tenzing, Hillary, and Reinhold Meissner walked on. Our first destination is Namchi Bazaar. We cross the Hillary bridge that spans the Dudhkosi river. Walking on the three feet-wide steel structure that undulates and occasionally swings certainly makes one appreciate the stable ground we walk on. As level ground makes way for the inclines, every step becomes an exercise in self-motivation and determination. The mind starts questioning the sanity of this whole masochist exercise. As the climb continues relentlessly, even the Everest Base Camp appears distant and unreachable.
Only One Way: Forward
I reason to myself that we all go through such moments in life, too. In such moments, the only option left is to keep moving ahead, taking the next step. Besides, fatigue and exhaustion strike everyone with equal intensity, but you can’t let them get the better of you. This philosophical approach surely makes the rest of the climb more bearable. In fact, it made me notice the tall pines and the lush green carpet draping the hills. After about an hour of toil, we catch the first glimpse of Everest from a small clearing — a morale-boosting sight that proved as therapeutic as a shot of steroids for our tired bodies.
Namchi is a quaint little settlement in the hills, replete with all modern facilities, without, however, severing its umbilical cord with tradition.
It serves as a major logistic head for all expeditions to the Everest. It is surrounded by some picturesque peaks like Ama-Dablam, Thamserku and Kusumkangru.
The next day saw us on our way to Tengboche, a small village that houses the famous Tenboche monastery. Legend says that on summit day, Tenzing got a glimpse of this monastery from his tent and interpreted it as a good omen for his summit bid. The Buddha idol in this monastery looks on serenely, in harmony with the ambience. The surrounding peaks and the distant but clearly visible Everest range is the perfect setting to induce a meditative state.
We continue our trek to Pangboche, where after a night halt, we move to Dingboche. In line with our acclimatisation protocol, we ascend nearly 1,000 feet from where we catch a glimpse of Makalu, Island peak, and Peak No. 38. We also see Choufula, a sacred peak that is worshipped by the locals. As part of ritual, the entire village abstains from any form of fire for three months every year, an unimaginable fact at such heights and temperatures, and testimony to the fact that humankind spares no ordeal in its eternal quest to access Divinity.
Our next stop is Lobuche, which claims our first casualty of altitude sickness — a teammate suffers from continuous throbbing headaches, nausea and occasional shortness of breath. Suddenly, we realise our own fragility and vulnerability and how unforgiving these mountains can be. Treatment comprises of one main modality — descend — and quickly at that! We bid an emotional farewell to our colleague as he leaves with a porter.
The terrain is now becoming more hostile. Morraine and rocks make climbing all the more difficult. As we make our way to the tea-house lodge at Gorakshep, the highest village on the Everest trek, we look forward to our final destination, Kala Patthar, at more than 18,000 feet.
This is a mountain made up mostly of black rock, which gives it its name. After crossing a stretch of sandy level ground — the remains of Tethys — the ocean that existed prior to the collision of the continental plates — we ascend another 1,000 feet to a plateau. The sight was too awesome for words. We were surrounded by snow-clad magnificence — Pumorie, Cho-latse, the west shoulder of Everest and Lhotse. We were spellbound, and all the pain that had preceded the moment vanished.
As the sun began to set, the majestic peaks were gradually devoured by shadows, and very soon, only the tips of the tallest, Mt Everest and Lhotse, managed to stay afloat in the fading sunlight. Those golden apices and the surreal mountainscape made us want to freeze the moment for eternity. I said a silent prayer for being able to experience this sublime masterpiece. When you see a canvas of this magnitude and splendour, you realise that all ego sublimates, and what remains is a desire to become one with this manifestation of divinity.
Tags : divinity, experience, magnitude, Mt Everest, splendour