In a mountaineering expedition, climbers are the center of attention and get all the accolades, but there are many others working behind the scenes who make such ventures possible. Neither do we read about them in expedition reports, nor do we see their pictures on magazine covers. Though their services are rarely acknowledged, they are the backbone of expeditions on 8000er mountains.
Meet the kitchen staff at Annapurna Basecamp, a team of three wonderful people.
At 4,200 altitude where walking without a load feels strenuous, they carry 35L water on their backs to the basecamp from a couple of kilometers away on a rough track. They wake up at 5 am and go to bed at 10 pm. Between these hours, they work like honey bees—washing dishes and clothes, boiling water, cutting vegetables, cooking, serving, making tea, and catering to the needs of the team. They go up the mountain with shovel and bring trays of snow to store the meat. Besides, they carry out Puja Ceremony before climbers head to the mountain. The juniper leaves which are burnt during the ceremony, they have to search on higher slopes.
The chef As Grumg from Gurkha wears glasses like a scientist and is always smiling. He prepares delicious food and asks us many times a day what we would like to eat.
Saroj Rai is a kitchen assistant from Sankhosaba. I have never seen him idle. He barely talks and works silently behind the scenes.
Dawa Kami Sherpa. We share the same nickname (Kami). He has been taking care of us since we arrived in Kathmandu. He has become like a brother. He makes sure we eat well. He doesn’t leave the table unless we have finished eating. He takes up a shovel and uses it as a guitar to sing along and dance with us. He understands our jokes and shares laughs with us.
The most amazing thing about them is not only how much dedicated they are in their work, but also how they carry themselves throughout the day. It is the way the smile spreading positive vibes and with how much love and care they do everything.
If it were not for them, staying at a basecamp for weeks wouldn’t be possible.
Our heartiest thanks to them for making our stay comfortable and memorable at Annapurna Basecamp. Much respect!