After eight or nine days of trekking many miles from Lukla (10,000ft), our crew made it to the peak of Kala Patthar (18,300ft), where we were lucky enough to have crystal clear views of Mt. Everest and the surrounding chain.
Sitting atop Kala Patthar was a surreal and spiritual experience for me. We had the mountain to ourselves. Just when we thought it couldn’t get more incredible, the fourth giant avalanche of the season came crashing down thousands of feet from the face of Neptuse (Everest’s neighbor mountain) onto the Khumbu glacier, in a thunderous roar. I caught the entire natural phenomena in a sequence, which I’ll most likely print for an upcoming photography exhibit, or use in an editorial.
Last month, the first avalanche of the season killed 16 Sherpa who were climbing supplies up the Khumbu glacier to climbing camp one and two. It was the worst tragedy in Everest climbing history. The deaths brought mainstream attention to the fact that Sherpa climbing guides and “Ice Doctors” who have the most dangerous job of all (creating a trail by setting all of the fixed ropes and ladders, and hauling all of the food, oxygen, and camping supplies for foreign climbers), have been getting taken advantage of for decades.
The Sherpa community got together a few weeks ago and decided none of them will climb Everest this season. Shortly after the decision was made, two more avalanches fell in the same area as the first, onto the climbing path of the Khumbu icefall.
Hopefully the foreign climbing community will come together to support the families of the desist. I’m glad the Sherpa community is honoring their lost brothers by letting Mt. Everest be for a while.
The mood at base camp was somber, however, we were still taken in with gracious hospitality for tea and soup, by Lhakpa’s Sherpa family. The spirit and strength of the super-human Sherpas is indescribable.