I made it. Hundreds of hours, miles, and bumps and bruises later, I made it to Everest Base Camp and back. Right now I’m at home, in Los Angeles, licking my wounds and planning my next steps.
A few weeks post-trek, my knees still hurt, and people keep telling me I’m thinner than they remember. But the trip was a success. I made it to almost 18,000 feet up without serious injury, and managed to pulled off the world’s highest, and perhaps most dangerous, live Twitter chat. Most importantly I met and saw people and places that words can’t truly describe. I feel tremendously lucky, proud, and even bitter-sweet about the whole experience now that it’s all over.
The hangover from this adventure hasn’t quite worn off, and I’ve been working on two main things since my return. The first is my piece for the BBC, on the human footprint, trash and conservation on the mountain, which is soon due. The second, and perhaps more important (if not more difficult), is a book. That’s right—a book.
I kept a moleskine journal during my trip, writing in it every day both to keep my senses sharp and to keep good notes for my piece. I ended up writing over 150 pages up there, scribbling in cold rooms by the heat of yak-dung fires, in bed with a black diamond headlamp and gloves, and sometimes even on the rocky trail when I just couldn’t wait.
Now back home, safe in toasty 60* fahrenheit Southern California , I’m transcribing and expanding my personal story on the sights, sounds, and people of the Himalayas.
Everest has been written about before, many times, and I’m not attempting another Into Thin Air. That, and many others like Himalaya, and Everest: Mountain Without Mercy, are classics, in categories all their own. They can’t be duplicated and I’m not attempting to. This is my take, on the people I met, like my guide Suman, amazing men and women who have battled, survived and come out on top despite deep personal tragedy, poverty, and extreme odds. Juxtaposed against the raw natural power of the world’s highest mountains, and an American journalist hungry for adventure and self-discovery, there’s a lot to mine here, and hopefully turn into a gem. In many ways this trip taught me who I am and what I want.
I have a lot of high hopes for the piece, which I’m thinking of calling High Altitude. But it’s very early in the process, and a book takes a lot of time. A lot of time. And a lot of hard work. There’s no guarantees for success, let alone traditional publication, yet before I put the cart before the horse, I’ve promised myself this will be published one way or another, whether online or in print, and perhaps if I’m extremely lucky, both. And that is in part to live experiences like this.
I’ve tried before to write a book, but I wasn’t ready. Several times I’ve failed, and I only hope I’ve learned enough from those lessons. This time I think I have a story captivating enough to grab readers’ attentions and not let ago until long after they’ve left Everest. Then again, the mountain hangover may be stronger than I realized, and maybe I’m just breathing thin air, not thinking straight…but I shake off those doubts, trying to steady the nerves of a worried artist, still pushing on despite the challenge. This trip, emotionally and physically, has been the hardest and most rewarding of my life. If I can capture even a hint of that experience, I think it’s a worthwhile read. Soon.