billi bierling female mountaineer and journalist from Germany

Reflections on Everest

A line of people approaching the summit - seen from the south summit

A line of people approaching the summit - seen from the south summit

After three days of running around in Kathmandu interviewing expeditions for the Himalayan Database, I have finally found the time to reflect on Everest and the experience I gained there. I have to admit that it still has not quite sunk in yet, and it is actually quite amazing how quickly you get back into ‘real’ life. As I said in my previous dispatch, my friends in Kathmandu had organised an amazing party for me and I was deeply touched by all the love and care I received from them. Considering that I have only lived here for about five years, it is overwhelming how many people I can call close friends in Nepal.

Anyway, the climbing season seems to be coming to an end and today is the first day that I have time to sit down, check my email, get updated on the news and write a new entry for my diary. I am actually quite surprised how quickly my body has recovered from the strains of Everest, and I am not feeling any damage, fatigue or other pain at all. I even went for a 12km run yesterday and I was surprised that I made it all the way to the small village of Thoka, where I normally run to. Of course, my running pace is a little bit slower, however, even though my legs seem tiny at the moment, they are still strong enough to carry me through the mad Kathmandu traffic.

Since I have been back, I have been asked how I felt and whether I thought that Everest had changed my life and to be honest with you – so far I have not noticed any difference at all. This is actually quite nice as I have always said that I hoped Everest would not trigger any changes as I really love my life. However, the reason for not feeling any different could be that I went straight back to work and did not have time to really think about it. I have just spoken to my mum in Germany though, and I have the feeling that my successful Everest expedition could have changed her life. She said it was amazing how many people rang or congratulated her on my success on her trips to the supermarket, and I got the feeling that she was really enjoying it. She has even rung Bavarian radio to arrange an interview for my return, and she is currently trying to get in touch with our mayor so that I can put my name in the Golden Book of Garmisch-Partenkirchen (whatever that is). Anyway, in a way it is good that my mother is looking after the media response as I would never to get in touch with them myself.

So, how am I feeling after Everest? Well, not very different at all. Life in Kathmandu is back to normal …. or whatever normal means in a country like Nepal. The Prime Minister Prachanda resigned a few weeks ago, the new prime minister has not made any major differences and today the Newaris have called a strike demanding an autonomous Newar state in Nepal. The streets of Kathmandu are extremely quiet and I am lucky that I have done most of my interviews over the last couple of days, as not even bicycles are allowed on the roads today. So, whether I have climbed Mount Everest or not, life goes on and and it does not really seem any different from before. However, I have to admit that every once in a while I stop short and realise that I actually did stand on top of the world.

However, one of the immediate things I am taking away from the expedition is what I learned about people. Life at base camp taught me how important it is to get love and support from friends, how essential it is to get on with strangers, who you share a small settlement with for two months, and how patience will eventually get you to the top. It was quite interesting to see how the atmosphere changed over the course of the expedition and how expedition members were getting anxious to finish their feat and go home. It was also sad to see how some of our member, who did not get to the top, were struggling to come to terms with their defeat while others were celebrating their summit success. Everest brings out the worst and best in people and I feel privileged that I had the opportunity to experience the taste of Everest first hand. And even though getting to the top is the icing on the cake, it now seems like an extra bonus.

I am sure the fact that I stood on top of the world just ten days ago will hit me again and hopefully inspire me to write some more. Until then I will try and keep my website interesting and updated with more news about Nepal and the mountains.

2 Responses

  1. Gisela said on June 3, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Noch immer ist es wunderbar, Deine Berichte zu lesen. Ich höre beim Lesen im Geist Deine Stimme mit ihrer unglaublichen Begeisterungsfähigkeit.
    Nochmals herzlichen Glückwunsch und alles Gute!!!

    Reply
  2. Ms D said on June 2, 2009 at 2:00 am

    Hi sweet – was in Germany last week thinking of you a lot! Was great to be able to follow your thoughts and your progress. Am Tag als du oben warst brachten Sie im BBC das Sir Ranulph Fiennes (British Explorer) am gleichen Tag und zu aehnlicher Zeit auf dem Summit war und zeigten auch viele Bilder und die Route, das war witzig (und nuetzlich um es sich noch besser vorstellen zu koennen). Nun ja, back in sunny London. Let’s catch up soon, all our love, Team Milo

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