Act 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 or 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.
Act 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 climbers 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.
Act 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. Though on occasion a very good mix of humour and wit rise to the surface, especially if you know the players well. Just read down to the capture of point 5660 in Jagged Globe’s post and you’ll get the idea.
Act 4. The Summit
Like any good play, the Everest season has a very distinctive build to the climax. The sun goes out, darkness sets and off the train of climbers go to the top of the world.
This is undoubtably the highlight as we can now track our favorite teams, family and friends right to the top
So thoughts pour out onto the web, into the Sat. phone and bounce out to us, the eagerly waiting Everest audience. It is a better read than politics right now, it is certainly more exciting than Brexit, and updates certainly trump a read of the Mueller report.
And even though there are always a host of Everest books to reread, there is nothing quite like the top of the world played out in real time.
As much as the information is raw and unfiltered, it is also very real, and no matter how far away we are from Everest itself, things are happening faster and seemingly closer than they ever have before on the mountain. And that in itself is exciting.