1. Spring comes to the northern hemisphere, our news feeds and emails start filling with Everest stories – packing, departures, hugs goodbye, lost luggage, the smells of Kathmandu and trekking to the top of the Potala in Lhasa.
It is more interesting than world news, local events and even cats-up-trees stories. It is suddenly real people, in real time, on real adventures, all set on the tallest mountain on earth. We bookmark a few sites, we click on the news (and it knows our every move), so we get more, and soon our device is filled with Everest, Everest, Everest.
2. Trekking time – for a climber – just not that exciting, and for readers, much the same. The yaks, some local hellos and conversations in teahouses, entering into the towering ice covered peaks.
Yes, there is a lull, as the rudiments of acclimatisation and the treadmill of altitude trundles the climbers upwards. On the ground, meeting and getting to know a new team, feeling your muscles wake up, your body grows stronger (hopefully), and living day-to-day in a walking culture is personally exciting. But few are posting much of interest, it is all too new, there is too much at stake, there is a mountain looming larger in life than ever before and it drives one inside oneself.
3. Real Time: suddenly climbers are at Base Camp, teams claiming first to here, time to there. Climbers going alone, Sherpa’s running up and down in packs. And the initial attrition, the realization for some this is just not what they expected, not what their body wants or even what those at home will put up with. And it’s played out online, mostly unfiltered, with the raw emotion that altitude and danger mix into a frothing cocktail, spilling out into social media.
The focus is a mix of going higher and survival. Rumours, plans and comparisons set in. How am I doing? How are they doing? Why are they going up? Should I go up? Why is my team faster/slower/eating more or less than me?
Tent nights are long and cold, morning’s come early and a few hours sleep, a rushed breakfast and a journey into the icefall not conducive to editing ones thoughts. So it pours out onto the web, into the sat phone and bounces out to us, the eagerly waiting audience.