The novel coronavirus finally caught up with me—and coincided with the first vacation I had planned in two years. It put paid to ideas of spending time in the Kangchenjunga National Park, but the mountains have been on our minds at Lounge for a while.
May marks the centenary of the first effort to summit Mount Everest. After that 1922 expedition, it would be over 30 years before Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first people to stand atop the world’s highest mountain on 29 May 1953, now observed as International Everest Day. May is also the month when the brief window to scale the peak opens up, when the temperature is somewhat warmer, the winds not as direct, and the weather conditions just right.
The thrill of being the first, or one of the few, to summit Everest no longer holds, yet hundreds continue to attempt it every year. We meet some of the climbers making the effort this year and find out what it is that still draws them to its slopes. For many, it is the ultimate test of will, even though much of the real work of climbing—fixing ropes, ferrying loads—is done by the Sherpas. This has been the case since that expedition in 1922, which one of our writers recreates, and many of the debates about climbing ethically, which were raised then, continue to rage today.
We also have a profile of Duolingo’s co-founder Luis von Ahn, who tells us about his plans for India, where the company has 45 million users. You may not learn much more than how to order coffee with milk in Korean or German but there’s no doubt that the language learning app has fans who are hoping to travel the world and speak in different tongues. I spent some time on the app this week and while it seems unlikely one would get very far repeating the same words and phrases, there’s always hope that a new language will get the brain firing in new ways and improve memory and cognitive skills. And maybe, you could even learn to order a falooda cake, which is all the rage in London now—though English would do quite well for that.
Write to the Lounge editor shalini.umachandran at @htlive.com