So there I am, slowly trudging up a track less trodden to the summit of Kalapatthar (5545m) just to view the almighty (‘Mother Of Universe’ Sagarmatha) Mt Everest. The air is surprisingly thin and the wind has a mean bite. I find myself seriously fatigued and hungry due to a night of next-to-no sleep and dragging myself out of a warm, cozy sleeping bag at 4 AM.
As I’m clambering over the boulders, I stop and gaze around at this incredible landscape filled with rock and ice with absolutely no vegetation to be seen. I carry on, struggling up to the top of the sacred Kalapatthar. A loud crash similar to a wave occurs and again I look up searching around until I see the avalanche across the glacier roaring down Nuptse (7,861m) a huge white wave steamrolling down the mountain.
Finally, here I am, on top of the impressive Kalapatthar. The Himalayas in summer yet the temperature is below zero. Finally, I can pause and just enjoy the moment, reflect on what I have gone through to get here, sitting up on a rock being blinded by the light at every attempt I make to look at Sagarmatha. This has been rather frustrating for me because my passion for photography was a driving force in the trip and although I haven’t got the perfect shot of the highest mountain in the world, I am still a very happy and lucky 15-year-old.
My intrepid adventure began with a late night touchdown at Tribhuvan Airport Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. For a not so traveled young man, this was quite an experience: unexpectedly, armed security guards in primitive surroundings. I exit the terminal to a car park full of people offering me a lift and wanting to take my bag. Surrounded by scrappy, beaten up old cars and vans, putt-putting around, people clambering on to the top of their vehicle roof to tie down luggage in a very dodgy fashion. Then I am in a van and out onto so-called ‘roads’ consisting of boulders, dirt and rubbish littered everywhere. As I look out the window, I see crumbling buildings as well as piles of bricks and concrete; shutters down, reminding me of something I’d seen on TV of a war zone in the Middle East.
Completely disorientated, I arrive in the tourist area of Thamel to find a large gate to our hotel being opened by what looks like soldiers with their rifles. Finally I stumble into my room and crash out on the foldaway bed; unfortunately, this bed has the habit of either folding up or collapsing on me. Thankfully I managed to steal a few hours’ sleep. I wake to the early morning hustle and bustle of the streets, the aromas of Asian style food mixed with a dirty polluted smell and an endless beeping of car horns. I later walk the streets, so full of life overflowing with colour from the hippy style clothing that fills the shops, everywhere I walk; Nepalese people are trying to sell me something ridiculous such as tiger balm or a small fiddle. I find myself eating a huge delicious noodle soup full of chicken called Thupka from a local tiny small restaurant for the incredible sum of only $1 AUD (I ate far too many).
After a couple of days in Kathmandu the adventure to the magnificent Himalayas begins with a 4 AM wake-up call to depart for the airport to and fly into Lukla (considered the most dangerous airport in the world).The flight isn’t your ordinary flight, with the runway just 480m in length and uphill perched high up on the hillside of a mountain. Luckily the flight is quick and smooth. I take a few steps from the plane and pull my ticket from my mouth; half my lip tears off with it, bleeding crazily. So begins a most amazing trek to Everest Base Camp.
BEN SANFORD 2013