Essay: A Special Morning Jochen Hemmleb - Basecamp Sat, May 19, 2001 3:15AM
You may wonder what makes you crawling out of your tent at 3:30a.m. into the icy cold at 21,000 ft. -- but I can tell you.
It's the million stars etched against the black-blue sky. It's the light of the half-moon reflecting off the ice beneath the Pinnacles on Everest's Northeast Ridge and the North Col. It's the crisp snow under your feet as you walk up the rocky moraine in the dark. It's the silence around you, so stark as if it had become materialized, tangible.
This is nature, wild, undiluted, raw. Sparking a feeling that goes deeper than anything you know.
A feeling of freedom and purity.
A feeling that leads to addiction, like a yearning for a lover or friend, an eagerness to go back and experience it again and again.
For those who have never experienced this, or too often, a morning like this may seems undesirable, or trivial.
For me it's the essence, the reason for being here -- for being alive.
(The attempt to photograph the summit team crossing the Steps of the Northeast Ridge from the moraine above Advance Base Camp on the morning of May 14th was frustrated by the team's inability to reach the ridge due to deep snow. Nonetheless the attempt provided me with an unforgettable experience -- a very special morning...)