Everest: Reflections on the Solukhumbu by Sujoy Das and Lisa Choegyal

Bookworm Issue 214 Sep, 2019
Text by Evangeline Neve / Photo: Sujoy Das

From trekkers crossing ice fields to panorama of the Everest range at night, the sweeping photos that open the book invoke, in a most beautiful way, the epic sweep and scale of this region.

I’ve visited the Khumbu region several times, and in this book’s photographs I found both the familiar and the surprising, and also, perhaps best of all, ones that made me see something I thought I knew in a different light. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Sujoy Das is an excellent photographer, and I was particularly taken with his use of light: the light of the moon, light spilling out of a lodge at night, a bit of sun coming through clouds to hit a snow covered mountain just so.

The section on the Sherpa festival of Dumji, which takes place over five days in monsoon (June/July) is particularly fascinating as it happens during a time when less people visit the area, and has not been covered as much; at least I was not familiar with it. Sujoy Das has been visiting the Khumbu for over twenty years, and his respect for and knowledge of the area and its people really shine through in sections like this one.

Lisa Choegyal’s writing is equally a part of what makes the book special: her personal knowledge from long years spent in Nepal, as well as her connection to the Hillary family, lend the writing insight and intimacy.

Everest is more than just a mountain, more than the highest point on earth, and more than Nepal’s most majestic icon. Everest, or Sagarmatha or Jomolungma to Nepalis and Tibetans, is the tallest of a pantheon of peaks worshipped by billions as the abode of the gods, the ‘brow of the sky’ and ‘mother goddess of the world’. A vital source of spiritual wellbeing, many millions depend on water from the Himalaya’s life-giving glaciers and rivers. Everest ignites our collective imagination, its lofty heights etched into our hearts and embedded in our dreams.

You will find not just mountains portrayed here, but quotidian rituals of Sherpa life, special religious rituals, faces of the young and the old.

There are countless tomes about Everest already; without a doubt more will be published. If you are already a collector of books from the area, this will be a worthwhile addition to your collection; if you aren’t yet—well, this is a great place to start. If you buy just one book about Everest this year, make it this one.

Everest: Reflections on the Solukhumbu is published this year to mark the centenary of the birth of Sir Edmund Hillary (July 20, 1919 – January 11, 2008) and is dedicated to the Sherpas of the Solukhumbu, whom he gave so much for. Proceeds from the book are going to the Himalayan Trust Nepal.