Joka to Everest Base Camp

Joka to Everest Base Camp

People ask, 'What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?' Let me tell you this, 'It is of no use.' There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for aviation. But otherwise, nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron... If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won't see why we go. What we get from this adventure is sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for. These were the words of Mr. George Mallory.

Climbing Everest is completely a different story but to make it to Everest Base Camp in itself made us realize how phenomenal thing mountaineering is! Often in this world of science and technology, we tend to forget that the biggest marvel even today is undoubtedly Nature. We humans may have made artistic wonders, but nature has been a step ahead of us always. Today in our busy lives of a corporate machine, we need to some time out from our day to day life in search of peace and solitude. On the similar lines, Armageddon - our adventure club at IIM Calcutta, have started this voluntary new program of visiting Everest Base Camp.

In the second leg of this program which was started on 17th of March 2018, a batch of 21 students set off on a journey in search of what some call to be inner peace or some might refer to like solitude. The journey began from the heart of Nepal - Katmandu traveling to Lukla in what is claimed to be most adventurous flight travel in the world. Flying at an altitude of 2500m, with a view of snowclad peaks on one end and a limitless ocean of clouds on the other, hit by the turbulence of the wind was in itself a once in lifetime experience. This ride was concluded with a landing on a 400m Lukla airport runway. The trek on feet was then started with a view of high mountain peaks on one side and a deep Khumpfu valley on the other. With the river Dudh-Kosi playing hide and seek along the path through the jungles and plains, the team made its way to Tuk-Tuk. Staying in the wooden cabins was never so comfortable, but when you have got a subzero temperature outside, even these cabins felt like a paradise.

The second-day journey to Namche is often referred as to the most difficult patch in the whole trek as per the locals. With a determination to make through it, the 21 Jokars set on the path having a mountain breakfast in Tuk-Tuk. The amazing view of mountains was soon covered by the black clouds, and the nature started testing us with ferocious winds and a mild snowfall. The high spirits of the Jokars kept them motivated on the path and despite a few setbacks they managed to make it to Namche in the daylight.

The acclimatizing day was spent in Namche with a hike to a local peak and a local museum. The hike rewarded the Jokars with their first view of Mt. Everest and Mt. Lhotse. The view not only motivated us for the journey ahead but also made us excited about what is to follow. Having acclimatized at 3400m in Namche, we set on to conquer the steepest path on the trek to make it to the holy place of Tengboche. The path in itself was daunting and the bright sun added to dehydration made it even more challenging. But the view from Tengboche was mesmerizing. I have visited a lot of places in my trekking stints so far, but it has been the most beautiful place I have ever been to. The Tengboche monastery was like a gem in the crown for that beautiful settlement on the hilltop. The place gave us a spiritual feel but at the same time made us realize that we have reached the zone from where in the dominance of AMS increases. Already a couple of us started showing symptoms of the sickness but still the brave spirits didn't shake. The determined Jokars set on their way to Dingboche, the path was long, and the weather conditions only made the conditions tougher. Despite the setbacks among a couple of us, the Jokars continued the journey. It's a saying in IIM C that "We Jokars leave no one behind" and this was the time to prove it. The friends who stood by the side in the times it was most needed. It's very important to stand up for friends and build their confidence especially when their spirits are low. It's easy to say but indeed a tough task to keep people motivated throughout the trek. At each point, we Jokars proved that we are there for each other in times of desperate needs. At Dingboche (4300m) we had an acclimatizing day on which an attempt was made to scale the Nagarjuna peak (5200m). The weather conditions were tough, clouds block the vision ahead, and the winds made the temperature sub-zero. With the AMS taking the opportunity to lay its cold icy hands on several of us coupled with lean oxygen in the air, many of us were tired and gave up on the attempt for making sure they saved their best efforts for the base camp. Despite the severe conditions 7 of us made it to the summit. The view from the top was amazing. The heart was filled with happiness and content, and the overflow was directed directly from the eyes. It were tears of content, the feeling which I have no words to describe, the feeling which gives me goosebumps even now writing about it.

The next day was another long walk through the plains to the next settlement of Labuche. The wind and slight snowfall often tried their best, but the spirits of Jokars was not so easily shaken. We made it to Labuche by afternoon and making sure we had enough rest for the D-Day tomorrow- the day we hoist the flag on EVEREST BASE CAMP. The next day was one of the most hectic days, started with a walk on the plains followed by a rocky patch crossing about six mountains to have a glimpse of the last human settlement on the trek. The eyes filled with excitement but at the same time the daunting walk of 3 hrs one way reflected that everyone was trying their best. Post lunch immediately we started off for the destination, several times, spirits shaken, self-confidence was questioned, but the Jokars didn't leave each other and made sure they hoist the flag on the Base Camp at around 5 pm. The slight delay would mean having the return journey in torch light. It was the daunting trek, the confusing rocky patches often were able to raise a doubt in mind whether we were on the right track, but someone we stood together and made it to Gorekhshep by 9 pm.

AMS was on its prime, the cold was widespread, running nose along with a headache were common symptoms among all of us. It is a saying - "Champions are born in adversities." In such conditions, 6 of us decided to scale down the Kala Pather summit (5555m) on the same night. It was indeed a brave choice, but the six jokars were determined enough to overcome their negative conscience and give it a try. Even our guide was done by AMS, and he decided to let these jokars go on their own. Starting at around 4 am in the morning, we started to what seemed to be the steepest and tiring journey. The mountain only got steeper with time; the air only got leaner as we progressed, the AMS only got severe, the fingers and toes only got more numb with each step. But we finally made it to the top. The emotions overflowed, the tears rolled down cheeks, there were hugs and hi-fi's everywhere. We had found it, found that content, that feeling for which we set on this path. The extreme conditions didn't allow us to stay at the summit for a long time, but it couldn't rob us from capturing the beautiful sunrise behind Mount Everest. It's an image that got captured into our eyes forever.

The return journey from Gorakhshep to Periche was a very well paced travel. With every step, we were taking we were descending, the air was getting dense, and the grasp of AMS was loosening. There was cheerful environment around the group. Cards were played, songs were sung to celebrate the trek. We had done it. The journey from Periche to Namche and from Namche to Lukla was passed reliving those awesome moments that we spent on the mountains. The journey ended with that amazing flight back to Katmandu.

Today, we live in the world filled with technology, science may have made our lives easier, but it can never provide us with the feeling of content, the feeling of belongingness that nature provides us. The bonds forms in such conditions, those strangers becoming friends and friends becoming families cannot be seen in this world anywhere else. Myself being the second year, living the last days of my student life am very glad that I choose EBC for my grad trip. I thank IIM C and Armageddon for providing this opportunity to explore a new side of me. Thanks a tonne!

IIM Calcutta contingent - Akshay Agarwal, Amit Kohad, Yash Agrawal, Priyanshu Chouksey, Akshay Gojare, Shahina Jindal, Akash Kumar, Siddhartha Lakkaraju, Drumit Patel, Mandar Patil, Priya Raghuram, Sonali Dev, Vishwa Deepak Bauri, Vimanyu Verma, Vaibhav Arora, Abhik Bhattacherjee, Rutuparna Karandikar, Arvind Karunakaran, and Mahim Majumder.

Reported by:
Mandar Patil

Mandar is also the winner of Pawan Tyagi Prize for the Best Sportsman of the year 2017 during the 53rd Annual Convocation awards.