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The Everest Journals: #5 Base Camp, Apr. 08 2005
By: Mike Swarbrick.
The mountains are ablaze with the colours of the Sun. The air is crisp, clear and cold. The frigid old Khumbu Glacier is home to us once more. The Yak dust on the trail here, like the cattle drives of old, was very much worth enduring. The pay off though is not counted in dollars per head but in estetics on the grandest of scales. We are holed up in a glorious box canyon, surrounded by magnificent, seven and eight thousand meter peaks. Pumo Ri, Lingtren, Khumbutse, Nuptse, Lhotse and Everest herself watch over us here. These young and still growing mountains entertain us frequently with rock-slides and avalanches.
The trek in was one of elation for me, walking through one of Natures great abstract masterpieces. Conversely, it was also a walk of sadness. There are far too many stone memorials, built by friends and family members in memory of the many fallen climbers that these mountains have lured prematurely to their deaths. One of the most note-able of these stone structures commemorates the late, great Babu Chiri Sherpa. Babu Chiri is not only recognized as being the greatest Everest climber of all time but also as the fore-most ambassador of the Sherpa community. His ever-ready smile and welcoming attitude embodied everything good about the Sherpa people. Babu Chiri worked tirelessly to improve the Sherpa standard of living and way of life. Unfortunately Babu Chiri fell to his death into a crevasse, just meters from Ben Webster’s tent at Camp Two in the Spring of 2001. Ben, at the time, offered a great tribute to Babu Chiri through a satellite link to ABC News, which was aired around the World. The many Sherpa climbers on Everest at the time showed their deep respect by retrieving his body from the crevasse and led by his brother, performed a funeral march by torch-light through the perilous ice-fall back to base camp.
As I spend more time with the Sherpa people, my respect and admiration for these small but strong people continues to grow. I recognize in them a great and good spirit that easily overcomes the many adversity’s one finds in this daunting, rough mountain environment. Our expedition staff, almost always go above and beyond their professional duties in order to assist us in any way they can, and do so with a smile. They may be small in stature but they have strong and endearing hearts.
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