mountain tales

In photos: The people (and animals) who help trekkers scale the Everest every year

The achievements of the trekkers make headlines, but how do their supplies reach the base camp?

Every year, hundreds of people climb Mount Everest from Nepal in May. Apart from chartered helicopters, there are no means of transport up to the base camp, where trekkers start the gruelling climb up the highest mountain in the world. The nearest regular commercial flights land at Lukla in Solukhumbhu district of northeastern Nepal – about 65 kilometres from base camp. All the climbers’ equipment and belongings have to be carried this distance by yaks, mules or porters.

Yaks heading toward Namche bazaar from the Mount Everest base camp with the gear of climbers.
Yaks heading toward Namche bazaar from the Mount Everest base camp with the gear of climbers.
Yaks carrying their load towards Namche bazaar in Syangboche of Solukhumbu district
Yaks carrying their load towards Namche bazaar in Syangboche of Solukhumbu district
Porters returning from Mount Everest base camp after the summit
Porters returning from Mount Everest base camp after the summit
Porter heading toward Namche bazaar from Everest base camp
Porter heading toward Namche bazaar from Everest base camp
Yaks heading toward Lukla, the entry point to Mount Everest from the only airport, Tenzing Hillary airport
Yaks heading toward Lukla, the entry point to Mount Everest from the only airport, Tenzing Hillary airport
Porters carrying stuff from the Tenzing Hillary airport in Lukla bazaar in Solukhumbhu airport
Porters carrying stuff from the Tenzing Hillary airport in Lukla bazaar in Solukhumbhu airport
Porters carrying stuff to Namche bazaar
Porters carrying stuff to Namche bazaar
Porters carrying stuff to Lukla airport from Namche bazaar, a town on the way to Everest base camp
Porters carrying stuff to Lukla airport from Namche bazaar, a town on the way to Everest base camp
Mules carrying cements bags from Lukla to Namche bazaar. It is the major mode of transportation in the region
Mules carrying cements bags from Lukla to Namche bazaar. It is the major mode of transportation in the region

This article first appeared on Third Pole.

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A special shade of blue inspired these musicians to create a musical piece

Thanks to an interesting neurological condition called synesthesia.

On certain forums on the Internet, heated discussions revolve around the colour of number 9 or the sound of strawberry cupcake. And most forum members mount a passionate defence of their points of view on these topics. These posts provide insight into a lesser known, but well-documented, sensory condition called synesthesia - simply described as the cross wiring of the senses.

Synesthetes can ‘see’ music, ‘taste’ paintings, ‘hear’ emotions...and experience other sensory combinations based on their type. If this seems confusing, just pay some attention to our everyday language. It’s riddled with synesthesia-like metaphors - ‘to go green with envy’, ‘to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth’, ‘loud colours’, ‘sweet smells’ and so on.

Synesthesia is a deeply individual experience for those who have it and differs from person to person. About 80 different types of synesthesia have been discovered so far. Some synesthetes even have multiple types, making their inner experience far richer than most can imagine.

Most synesthetes vehemently maintain that they don’t consider their synesthesia to be problem that needs to be fixed. Indeed, synesthesia isn’t classified as a disorder, but only a neurological condition - one that scientists say may even confer cognitive benefits, chief among them being a heightened sense of creativity.

Pop culture has celebrated synesthetic minds for centuries. Synesthetic musicians, writers, artists and even scientists have produced a body of work that still inspires. Indeed, synesthetes often gravitate towards the arts. Eduardo is a Canadian violinist who has synesthesia. He’s, in fact, so obsessed with it that he even went on to do a doctoral thesis on the subject. Eduardo has also authored a children’s book meant to encourage latent creativity, and synesthesia, in children.

Litsa, a British violinist, sees splashes of paint when she hears music. For her, the note G is green; she can’t separate the two. She considers synesthesia to be a fundamental part of her vocation. Samara echoes the sentiment. A talented cellist from London, Samara can’t quite quantify the effect of synesthesia on her music, for she has never known a life without it. Like most synesthetes, the discovery of synesthesia for Samara was really the realisation that other people didn’t experience the world the way she did.

Eduardo, Litsa and Samara got together to make music guided by their synesthesia. They were invited by Maruti NEXA to interpret their new automotive colour - NEXA Blue. The signature shade represents the brand’s spirit of innovation and draws on the legacy of blue as the colour that has inspired innovation and creativity in art, science and culture for centuries.

Each musician, like a true synesthete, came up with a different note to represent the colour. NEXA roped in Indraneel, a composer, to tie these notes together into a harmonious composition. The video below shows how Sound of NEXA Blue was conceived.

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You can watch Eduardo, Litsa and Samara play the entire Sound of NEXA Blue composition in the video below.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of NEXA and not by the Scroll editorial team.