I’m going to jump ahead a bit now. The trip to the top was only half the battle; although the science was pretty much all done once we had reached base camp (we are still doing daily measurements), we still had to come back down again. It’s been an interesting descent. I think most people had only really accounted mentally for the uphill part with Kala Patthar being both the apogee and the final act. We’re almost a week on from that now and the weary souls on this trip are ready to wrap things up. Three weeks of third world food is growing tired on everyone too.

The science and people’s welfare has been the priority (and rightly so) but it has meant that the important pieces that Kait and I have had to capture as part of our job have taken a back seat; time has been at a premium. We have both been so busy on the way up, capturing as much as we could (so much b-roll!) but while everyone else is unwinding now that the trip is nearing its end, we are still going, getting important interviews with the major players wrapped up and hoping like hell that we’ve captured enough. This late in the game there are few opportunities to do pickups.

 

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Screengrab from the interview with Trevor in Namche. This was our one and only opportunity to shoot this – the scenery and weather both disappeared the next day. We even had to squeeze it in before breakfast to make it happen! Leaving this important documenting so late in the trip has been a stressor and that remains to some extent even though we have finally got it in the can. What have I forgotten to ask? What have I forgotten to shoot? We only got one crack at it. I’m sure I’ll be able to construct something great in the edit suite, but this foray into high-stakes seat-of-the-pants filming has been anxiety-inducing!

I’m writing this in Lukla, our “final destination” for the trek. The weather has packed in and we are unable to fly home. It may be like this for another few days. I’m now having to consider what I do if I can’t make it to my connecting international flights (we did schedule in a few backup days in case something like this would happen, but we may be cutting it fine). In any case, there’s a bit of time for reflection on what has been a remarkable journey. Here are some thoughts:

Trevor has planned and executed a magnificent trip. Things have mostly gone to plan and where they haven’t, he has been incredibly adaptable (both in a general sense and from an experimental design perspective). He’s conducted (as in executed and performed like a maestro conductor) complicated science in “the field” – a field which has been quite unforgiving – and at the same time he has had to manage the complex logistics of the trip. All while battling severe and crippling gastro bugs, and all done with a smile, a laugh and a joke. He is truly worthy of “hero”status.

Power and the internet have been a curse. There seems to always be a combination of no power, no battery left, no service, and no time (because we’re always walking!) that blights Kait’s and my ability to do our job. It has been incredibly frustrating. I would have liked to have posted more but we were simply unable to. Even here in Lukla the internet is woeful and infuriating.

There were many other things I wanted to talk about here on this blog: the plight of the locals after the earthquake, the New Zealand Hillary connection (which is often more imagined than real, I’m afraid to say), and the actual science being performed (although much of the data still needs to be analysed, so results are still pending). And there are so many pictures that should go up too! I still want to report the above things; I’ve written notes and have lots of interview footage to trawl through so it will appear in time – perhaps not on this blog but certainly on the ADI website.

However, right now I’m exhausted. I’ve lugged that bloody video camera 130 kilometres up and down a damn big hill and have created over half a terabyte of footage whist doing so. Kait has shot the lion’s share of the stills too, and they number close to 5,000. I’ve spent hours backing up all our footage (prudent or paranoid, take your pick) on fickle power supplies. And I still have to mine it all for gems.

I may do some more posts once I reach Kathmandu but right now I need a break and a beer. In the mean time, thanks everyone for following along and for all your encouraging comments. It’s been quite a ride!

Se se!

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