Monday, May 07, 2012

Everest Calling - Value & Appearance

It dawns on the team that even with the changed, less strenuous plan (Gokyo and Chola pass removed), we have a difficult task ahead. There is a possibility some of us will not be able to make it. We wish we could have pushed our return to Delhi by 2 days.

I am all for it. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A lot of money has been spent. Many days of leave from work have been taken.
Just 2 extra days – if they redeem all that has been expended – time, money, energy - why not?

But half the people are not for it. They have more important engagements. I don’t understand them.
Moreover, the Lukla – Kathmandu route is the busiest in South Asia! That flight will be difficult to reschedule.

So now there is talk in the team about having to choose between Everest Base Camp (EBC) and Kala Patthar – that is, if both destinations become impossible for some of us.

The thing is, from Everest Base Camp, you can’t get a view of Mt. Everest. The mountain, though taller than all others, is hidden from view by mountains adjacent to Everest, Nuptse or Lhotse.

I will probably go to both but if I have to choose,…
The obvious choice for me is to get a view of Everest, that is to go to Kala Patthar and not base camp.
But surprisingly, for so many of them, base camp is the choice.
I wonder how. You can’t see Everest from there.
Is it not important to get a view of the tallest mountain in the world? I ask them.

‘The trek is called EBC. I will choose EBC. I started with EBC as the destination in my mind, so that’s where I shall go’, says someone.
So it is the label that’s making all the difference to the people!
If that spot – which is just another spot in the mountainous terrain – were called something else and not a grand sounding name such as ‘Everest Base camp’, would people still choose that spot instead of a view of the grand Everest? No. probably not.
They choose this because of the label. ‘Everest Base Camp’ has a grand rind ring to it.

It has a ring of accomplishment, a ring of achievement to it.
It will look good on Facebook, Twitter, Orkut or whatever media people will use to tell the world ‘We have been there’.

It’s probably the kind of a spot that we have been seeing or walking past all these days, nothing extra ordinary.
But we are living in an age appearance. Not significance.

It’s alright even if, having come all the way, having spent 65000 rupees, 18 days of travel, 16 days of trekking through rough weather, you go back to India without getting a view of Everest. As long as you are carrying with you a label – the label of visiting EBC.
Who has heard of Kala Patthar? Though you may get to see Everest from there?
If you tell people you went to Kala Patthar and saw Everest, people may not perceive it as an accomplishment. But if you tell them you went to EBC, they will give you a standing ovation. Even though you never actually saw Everest.

Small reminders of the fact that we are living in an age of appearance, in an age of marketing.


Suman punuru said...

Though ebc was done,i will always regret that i was not able to make it to kalapattar for that amazing view...i even regret more when bhargav told me they had their view in the mid way of kalapattar...but was seriously ill the night before ..i survived only on soup...i remember guides asking us to raise our hands who can make it to kalapattar...i remember u saying i have to see everest no mattet what...hope u got to see that..if i am correct..u made to three fourth of the black mountain.

Sowmya said...

Hey Suman,

Welcome to this space.
Yes, I reached Kala Patthar, and was very close to the summit. I had severe abdomen pain; I stopped for a few minutes, took Brufin from Nandu and continued up...

It was a beautiful view...

You know what? I am leaving to Uttarakhand in 2 days... : )

Do keep coming here and leave your comments :)

Giri said...

Wow! Do you guys travel or what!
---- Giridhar (Not sure if you remember me Sowmya, only recently started leaving comments. Also I have retrieved my blog. Do visit it at