Summiting Everest
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312 Hours Without a Shower, One Sunrise on Mount Everest
I sat on a cushionless bench picking the dirt from underneath my fingernails with the corner edge of a sunscreen bottle while the teahouse matron carved out the eyes of a potato next to me. As a war waged between my brush and the knots in my hair, I couldn’t help but think: never has a battle been so happily lost. I woke up that morning, legs sore from trekking through the Khumbu. The promise of a kind Everest soaked in sunshine was still wrapped tightly around my pinky finger. But the fog that day made a smoke screen of my very feet and the cold bit harder than teeth on yak cheese - don't even try it. Still, I believed the fog would recede. Like trying to swallow the moon at 2pm in the afternoon, I waited against the odds as a grey duvet tucked in the landscape, Everest’s head far under her covers. It was like watching paint dry inside a freezer in a bikini. As I sat there on the teahouse stoop, I remembered my mother saying, “A watched pot never boils.” I remembered my father quoting, “Everybody is waiting for cooler weather and I'm just waiting for you.” Then I scoffed at my faith in taming things untameable, like the Himalayan fog. As I gave up the promise, the fog began lifting like a theatre curtain and my cheeks flushed from the blush of an opening night I’d only dreamed of. And then Everest to the world – or Sagarmatha to Nepal or Chomolungma to Tibet or beauty to me – sat waiting on her throne. And the sunrise on her Southern face was magnificent.
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