National Geographic : 2013 Jun
Fixing Everest 101 family, emergency phone numbers, everything.” Anker said the Kathmandu bureaucrats sat there looking at him with blank faces. “I even got out my phone and showed them how it would work,” he says. “It’s 2012. This isn’t dif- ficult. It’s just like a ski pass.” Despite all the problems on the mountain, Everest still stands alone. There will always be people who want to climb the world’s tallest peak, because there’s more to being on Everest than getting hemmed in by crowds or confront- ed by heaps of trash. The mountain is so high and so indifferent it calls upon every climber, at one time or another, to rise to his or her better self. There is also beauty on Everest. I’ll never forget the breathtaking view from our perch at Camp III, clouds roiling up the Western Cwm like a slow-motion reverse avalanche. Or the visceral relief of a cup of scalding soup at Camp IV. Or the crunch of my crampons in the crystalline labyrinth of the Khumbu Icefall just above Base Camp. I’ll treasure the memory of climbing with friends on the mountain. I com- mitted my life to them, and they committed their lives to me. Such moments are the reasons climbers keep coming back to Everest. It’s not simply about reaching the summit but about showing respect for the mountain and enjoying the journey. Now it’s up to us to restore a sense of sanity to the top of the world. j Team member Emily Harrington used an iPhone to create this stitched photo from the summit (top) and an Instagram self-portrait. Earlier she had struggled with a respiratory infection. “The entire journey was a mental battle,” she said, “a fight to keep walking.” emiLy harrington (both) Check out an interactive graphic on how people have died on everest, an instagram image gallery, and more on our digital editions.