A dream of mine had always been to see Mount Everest. In November 2016 that dream became a reality when I joined a trek to Everest Base Camp. Sitting in the departure lounge at Kathmandu airport, laden with gear, waiting to board our flight to Lukla, I spotted a couple of striking pictures of the Everest Massif. When I pointed them out one of our party told me it was the view from Kalapatthar, the highest point of our journey. Wow! With a fair wind perhaps I’d get the same shot!
12 days later it’s -15c and we’re beginning our ascent of Kalapatthar. I’m physically and mentally shot. The effect of altitude robbed me of my appetite when we reached 4000m and a lack of food, a mild chest infection (common when trekking) and the cold, meant my reserves were spent long ago. Though I’ve made it to this point I seriously doubt my ability to make it up the hill.
As soon as we begin to ascend I lag behind the group, only catching up when they stop for rest. As soon as I reach them they’re off again. At one point I resolve to quit, but, stupidly, the embarrassment of saying the words means I carry on. Last to reach the top my only thought is to find a place to sit and rest.
Eventually I look up and see the mountain chain in front of me, unbroken for miles, the Khumbu glacier below, the picture from the departure lounge. Wow! I unclip my camera, lift it up, and take a series of shots to record the scene in front of me, then re-clip the camera. I don’t check the shutter speed; I don’t check the aperture; I don’t check the focus; I don’t review what I’ve taken to ensure I’ve captured an unbroken series; I’ve no energy or motivation to take any more photos; I’ve either got it or not and at that point I really don’t really care.
There’s a bit of reflection time before we depart. For me I think I’ve some inkling of the physical and mental fortitude of those that go on to climb Everest; I’m humbled by the thought; whoever attempts to climb to the highest place on Earth, another 3,000m straight up from where I sit, has my upmost respect. Then it’s time to head back down the hill.
Back in Kathmandu, reunited with my laptop, I begin to review and process the images. I’m fairly anxious about the panoramic; to go all that way, to a place I’m unlikely to return, and not get the shot doesn’t bear thinking about. Sat in the comfort of a hotel feeling as fit as fiddle it seems ridiculous that I hadn’t been more diligent and professional at the time, but down here, below 2000m, it’s a very different normality. I wait for the software to complete its job of knitting together the images and finally breath a sigh of relief. Wow!
The full story of the trek, with enough photos to bore a cat, can be found here: https://www.richardwallsphotography.com/everest-base-camp-nepal-himalaya