As a child, I remember going to the zoo on field trips and with the family to learn about all the different animals in the world. As a child, a trip to the zoo is exciting, educational, scary, and mesmorizing at times. As a child, it never occurs to you that perhaps the animals don’t enjoy sitting in a cage with hundreds of weird looking animals staring back at them through bars and glass. Everest basecamp is in a lot of ways like the zoo, except I’m the animal in the cage and the world is watching my every move.
The hissing and buzzing above is as annoying as a mosquito in your tent. Drones. I hate them. Now don’t get me wrong, for a few months I highly considered bringing one along to film the icefall but the bank account wouldn’t have it. Drones flying above our camp that belong to some stranger are enraging. If I were a monkey I would fling my poo at them except I would fear missing and potentially hitting a teammate. I suppose it would be a success if I were to hit the person flying the drone. Regardless…what do they want to film our tents for? It’s not like we’re over in our little camp having a firework show that no one else is allowed to see! We are just going about our daily activities. If they really want footage of who goes to the tall yellow tent and when, I’m happy to give them a log of that.
Helicopters. Oh helicopters. I have a love hate with those machines in the sky. They are our lifeline should things go astray (aka an earthquake), they bring supplies to basecamp, they help the sick get down and they bring gear up the mountain. Helicopters have become an essential part of Everest life. What’s borthersome, is when one of two helipads is practically in your camp. All day long starting as early as 7am helicopters are about to land on my tent. One day I actually counted 12 helicopters landing above my head. That may not sound like a lot but you factor in the afternoon weather that usual starts around 2 or 3pm, that’s a lot of choppers in a short amount of time.
A few weeks ago I was climbing down through the icefall and a helicopter flew above quite low. After looking closer I could see someone with a camera hanging out the side of it. My blood boiled and for more than a split second I considered showing them a full moon at noon but quickly realized it was too much of a hassle with my harness on. Safety third after all. I also had a split second fear that it was some national news station that would then broadcast my a$* to the world looking like anything but a lady. I refrained only to be bombarded with cameras, microphones and video camera further down the icefall. Since when did I sign up to be on a reality TV show?
Another day I was practicing yoga on my yoga rock where I thoroughly enjoy my alone time. Secluded from camp I can really zone into my practice and calm my mind. Peacefully moving my body I found myself falling off my rock as the roar from above startled me. Damn helicopter. I suppose I should use that as a lesson to myself…learn to concentrate on you, no matter your surroundings. Did I mention my rock is surrounded by frozen glacier water? Brrr. Most people come to the mountains to find some peace and quiet in Mother Nature’s beautiful playground and if that’s the case, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, set up shop at Everest basecamp.
Finally there are the trekkers. Hundreds (maybe thousands) of people come to Nepal every year in search of their “summit”. They pilgrimage the same path I did in hopes of achieving a dream or a check next to a bucket list item. Reaching the Everest basecamp memorial site is the highest elevation most of them will ever attain in their lives. A 17,500ft achievement is deserving of the singing, chanting, hooting and hollering from the crowds… which are all within eyesight from my front door. The sounds are forever etched in my ears and the irritation occasionally eats away at me. Who am I to sit here and be irritated by their success? Perhaps it’s because I’m envious that they have reached their summit and I’m still pacing in my cage waiting for mine. To each and ever Trekker who has reached their high-point, congratulations! To those of us who continue to wait for ours, find patience to endure the cabin fever, you will touch the sky soon enough.