There’s a wonderful window into a couple of the best aspects of the Everest Trek in this episode. First, the so-called “morning update” ritual that Jon and I did most mornings. (Also known as “The Jon & John Morning Show”.) Second, the amazing and random people we met along the way. While not all as notable as Apa Sherpa, there were many fascinating people to found on the trail.
The habit of filming in the tent most every morning started right from our first day waking up in that soon-to-be familiar orange and green tent. Jon remarked in our final team dinner at the end of the Trek that he knew we’d get along okay, and that I’d do just fine on the trek, when he broke out the video camera that first morning and it didn’t phase me in the slightest. I just flowed right along with things, and this ritual became a welcome part of each day.
The first couple days of the trek back in Kathmandu, I must admit I was very aware of the cameras. To a flaw on occasion, leading me to duck out of shots I though I was getting in the way of, while the reality was that Jon was actually trying to get me in said shot. But it didn’t take long for me to get used to it, and the seemingly constant stream of lenses pointing at me faded into the background. So by that first day on the trail the cameras were like a piece of the scenery. All a part of the experience.
There are so many wonderful memories attached to those morning updates, some touchstone moments of the experience for me. Beyond anything else, they were a grounding point to each and every day. No matter what else happened and how much everything else around us changed, there was always Jon and his camera each morning. (Though, memory being what it is, it turns out we didn’t record one every day, in spite of what our memories might have told us.) And, as Jon points out in the description for this episode, it gave us both an opportunity to get the whine out each day and head out on the trail that much lighter, having gotten that out of our systems.
Later that day we were fortunate enough to meet one of the most fascinating people we came across on our journey. Apa Sherpa was interesting in many ways. First, because he was on his way to a potential record breaking 19th summit of Everest, and was successful at said attempt. Second, because he’s a very talented photographer. Thirdly, with his work to help build up the educational infrastructure in the Khumbu region via his Apa Sherpa Foundation, which he speaks about in this episode. And finally from his work with the Eco Everest Expedition this year, a group dedicated to focusing attention on both climate change and cleaning up Everest. This year alone, they brought down five tons of trash from the mountain and are spearheading efforts to try and make Everest expedition more green. For example, I believe Jon has some footage of the toilet tents at base camp this year, and will hopefully have some coverage of this in a later episode. Instead of just letting the waste go down a crevice in the glacier, as had been done in many previous years, the waste was collected in buckets, sealed up, and toted back down to civilization where it could be disposed of more appropriately.
And he was just one of a myriad of people, both locals and other tourists, that we met every day. From the Nepali that ran the internet cafe in Dingboche that Jon talked to, to the climber coming down from his third failed attempt at an Everest summit that Jeff spoke with in Tengboche on our way back down. The region is full of diverse and compelling personalities. Though I’ve said it before, it bears repeating… The people are the heart and soul of an expedition like this. To once again use Jon’s line: You go for Everest, you return for the people.
(Images from The Rest Of Everest podcast are © 2003-2010 TreeLine Productions.)