The Everest remains every trekker’s Muse. What was the first feat ever on May 29, 1953, has become an adventure sport calling for any seasoned climber. Also given that shorter destinations are now well mapped on lower altitudes, each trekking season leaves behind imprints of civilisation by way of litter, camp site bonfire marks and of course, the many trampling that eventually lead to widening of trails and wear and tear on the mountain each time nails hooks are thrown into for purpose of securing the trekker.
“My father would be shocked at what Everest has become. He would be shocked by the number of people going on the mountain, by how the mountain is being treated, and what type of people are coming to climb here,” Norgay’s son, Jamling spoke to British mountaineer Kenton Cool. The latter set a record of sorts by reaching the summit for the sixteenth time, in the process breaking the record for the most successful ascents by a non-Sherpa.
Come 2023 and it will be 70 years since Tenzing set foot on the peak. There is much talk among outdoor enthusiasts and budget tour operators about the anniversary of the historic first ascent. “My father would want nothing to do with it,” added the pained Sherpa.
Sherpas (usually Hindu Nepalis or Buddhists from Tibet) revere the mountain as a living being. They seek permission from the towering ranges before setting foot on them and not uncommon are stories of “visions” in dream signaling a red or a green halfway through the trek, usually in the night before the last leg upward. They know where habitation stops and the exalted begins. The blame, therefore, shifts to wanderlust and adventure tourism.
When Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary stood on top of the world on May 29, the land was clean. Virgin. Seven decades later, environmentalists are pained to see the rampant proliferation of rubbish and humans, dotting the tranquil landscape, often in the most irresponsible manner. Perhaps the Khumbu region of Nepal is one of the most well-trodden adventure tourism spots on the planet. And that has come with its pitfalls.