Everest, the tallest.

The mountain is in the news again, for three different reasons, all in the same week. One of human conquest, one of human stupidity, and the third of nature’s unpredictability.

First, the one about human achievement. Indian mountaineer, Anshu Jamsenpa summitted twice, within a week. She has summited twice in 10 days in 2011, and last week was witness to her fourth and fifth successful summits.

Anshu Jamsenpa with HH Dalai Lama

Anshu, with HH Dalai Lama

The 37-year-old mother of two from Bomdila in Arunachal Pradesh (state in the far east of India), summitted on the 16th May, and then again on the 21st May. Before her second ascent, Anshu said: “My only aim now is to unfurl the national flag once again atop Mt Everest and pay homage to Lord Buddha. I seek blessings and support from my fellow countrymen.” She was blessed by HH Dalai Lama before leaving for the expedition. What a Rockstar!

The second story is about Ravi Kumar, from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh who is untraceable on the mountain after having summitted on the 20th. Kumar and his guide, Lakpa Wongya Sherpa, got separated during the descent near the Balcony and the latter was later found unconscious and suffering from frostbite at Camp IV.

a8e9f2b6fac66d36d1761c9c30b10f5dIn another incident six climbers suffering from altitude sickness had to be rescued and then sent to different hospitals. The human body isn’t made for 25K feet, and the body cells literally start dying at that altitude. If one isn’t a trained and seasoned super hi-alt mountaineer, please stick to doing mid-altitude treks. Everest or other 8-thousanders aren’t really for you stupids.

The other in-fashion thing for some years now is to go up the mountain with a guide. Everest isn’t a tourist spot, you know. In 1996, most of those killed on the mountain weren’t seasoned mountaineers either. And there is no business that a ward should get separated from a guide. The life of the ward is the guide’s responsibility. Lakpa, this might have been your eighth summit, but your license needs to be taken away.

And finally, “…a piece of mountaineering history has disappeared “, said British mountaineer Tim Mosedale after he descended from his sixth successful summit attempt. Considered to be the last obstacle, some 58 metres below the summit, the rocky outcrop known as the Hillary Step has collapsed. Likely because of the 2015 earthquake. Last year, the American Himalayan Foundation did publish images, but it was not clear whether the rock formation had actually collapsed because of the snow cover. Tim Mosedale who summitted last year as well this year, has confirmed, with pictures that he has posted.

The crumbling away of the Hillary Step makes summitting easier and quicker for the inexperienced climbers, but also will expose them to the elements for a longer time because of the potential traffic jam which will ensue with larger number of climbers passing through that spot.

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Deaths on Mt Everest (data, graph courtesy – BBC)

More than 240 people have died on the mountain (above base camp) so far, and three more already added this year, more so since climbing up has become almost a joke. Teams have to be sent up every year to clear rubbish and debris from previous years’ climbs. There are bodies on the mountain, and plenty debris. Most seasoned pioneers regret what happens to the mountain every climbing season.

But, we need to stop for a moment and perhaps listen to Sagarmatha. The mountain, I believe, is telling us that she feels tired and abused and that we should stop climbing her now.

 

Men in Whites – the Ranji story today

Ranji Trophy Semifinals between Karnataka and Mumbai - 2015

Ranji Trophy Semifinals between Karnataka and Mumbai – 2015. Click on the image to watch a short video

Long before the advent of pajama cricket, cricket was played only in whites. The game was always played in two innings, with a limited number of days but not limited to a number of overs. But, times change and so do sports. Limited over one day internationals started with 60 overs a side, and then were reduced to 50 a side. Then the English counties started playing 20-20 cricket which has of course now spread across the world. Cricket has changed forever and whatever is marketed better remains more popular. The IPL T-20 tournament perhaps is the most popular of cricket tournaments.

There was a time, however, when people used to throng to even watch a Deodhar Trophy game, or maybe a Duleep Trophy game. Ranji matches were keenly contested. Ranji matches threw up national level test match players. Now, of course, many players seem to be coming in through the T-20 route. The national level players have no desire (perhaps no time either) to play domestic level Ranji matches. Only national team discards do.

I saw my first Ranji match some days back when Karnataka (last year’s champions) were playing Mumbai in the semifinals at Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore. I have been wanting to watch a Ranji match for the last  6- 7 months perhaps have not found a mechanism to buy tickets. No offline ticket selling location mentioned anywhere, nor is any online selling portal mentioned. When this particular match, a call to the KSCA office sorted the problem. Did you know, Ranji tickets / entry is free? You can just walk into the stadium.

At Chinnaswamy, they had opened only one stand which was packed to capacity. Maybe a thousand odd people, all partisan, supporting Karnataka vociferously. Was lot of fun sitting through most of the second day. This was enjoyable enough to promise myself to do this again in the next season.

Did you know, Ranji tickets / entry is free? You can just walk into the stadium.

Clearly not enough people show up to see good cricket. But, why blame potential spectators.

  • BCCI provides lip service to Ranji these days. Yes, the games are telecast on the tube, but not publicized. One gets to know of the results in the next day’s papers.
  • The venues are fixed without much sense or logic. An example is that the finals this year are fixed to be held at the Wankhede between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. How many people do you think will show up? Would it not be better if the venue were in either of the two states slated to play the match?
  • The boxes, air-conditioned areas are blocked off for members, and other sundry officials. There might be members of the public willing to pay a bit. How about opening that up?
  • BCCI, in its money-making spree, has left no room for our national players to play Ranji anymore. So, you do not see the current big stars on the ground. Naturally, for most potential spectators, the attraction is less.
  • This perhaps also is time for the lesser / smaller stadiums to get used. Chinnaswamy is a decent stadium with zero parking anywhere. Given that the number of spectators is less, how about developing other pitches where people could get to the stadium with some ease rather than having to walk a kilometer.

Besides the test matches, this perhaps is the only real pure form of cricket left in our country to see. Clearly most of the people who go to watch these matches are true cricket enthusiasts, and not there for a village fair which most T-20 games turn out to be. BTW, did you hear about the senior British couple from Yorkshire who come in to watch Ranji matches every year? About time, we could do something more here and encourage people to attend.

Video – Karnataka Vs Mumbai, semifinals 2015