…I sat and had chai with these Everest porters in a village called Pangboche…
With the unfolding tragedy on Everest taking place, I have been thinking a lot about my own brief (and distant) contact with Everest. And so I fossicked around and found – miracle of miracles – my Everest Base Camp journal, written up every night in a funny little school exercise book.
And so, on 23 April 2004, I trekked to Pangboche where my sherpa, Bharat (what a dear young man) took me to the village monastery for a puja. I was thrilled and very moved to share my puja with a sherpa who was dashing off to Base Camp to join up with a climbing team attempting Everest.
He spoke adequate English, and told me he had summited several times, and had walked from Base Camp back down to Namche on some work or other and was heading back to join his team. We threw rice together and received silk scarves (I still treasure mine) and off he marched, while I puffed my way down to a very basic room for the night.
It snowed that night, I remember. So, without even asking, Bharat rummaged in my bag, found my washing line and hung up my soggy socks to dry.
Even a trekker like me could hardly manage Base Camp without the help of a kind encouraging sherpa, so my heart goes out to all the climbers and porters and families…
Oh yes, my cheery Gang of Four in my first photo.
The youngest was 13 (Anjulie’s age at the time) – he’s the one 2nd from the left.
One was 15, one was 20 and the old one, on the right…25. I neary died, and double-checked with Bharat who spoke OK English and Hindi.
25 years old.