Electronic Requiem: Paul Oakenfold at Everest Base Camp

Daybreak at Lukla (2,860m): Helicopters thudding. Yak bells gently ringing. Coffee grinders whirring. Locals murmuring.

A little over 2,500m north, at Everest Base Camp (5,364m), day was breaking somewhat differently. Multiple Grammy nominee DJ Paul Oakenfold and his team, with Nepali DJ Ranzen, were setting up for Oakenfold’s Soundtrek, the Highest Party On Planet Earth. By 11AM on 11 April, the party was well underway and people from all over the world had come together for it – online.

As Kathmandu was abuzz with another Grammy winner, DJ Diplo on April 5, Oakenfold had landed in Lukla and begun his ten day trek to the Base Camp. Being a giant in electronic music, the international press had been talking about Oakenfold’s event since late March. And rightly so. The event was more than just a party. With Nepal Quake’s second anniversary about two weeks away, it was a reminder to the world of the tragedy that struck Nepal, and the help many of its survivors still need.

It’s a wonderful moment for the locals, the community.

Paul Oakenfold

“We are raising money, awareness,” he told Onward Nepal from the DJ booth as music and the mountain air blended.

Indeed, Everest fascinates and draws attention of the international media to a fault. But for this electronic requiem, the Base Camp does make for a fitting memorial site. On 25 April, when the quake struck Nepal, a deadly avalanche was triggered on the mountain.  22 people lost their lives there. Across the country, almost 9,000 people died, and more than a million people were affected.

The Oakenfold event also comes on the eve of Nepal’s spring tourist season. Here in the Himalayas, the spring Everest season gets into high gear by late April. By mid-May, hundreds of climbers are ascending Everest while thousands of tourists hike around the Sagarmatha National Park. Tourism is one of the most significant and fastest-growing contributors to the country’s GDP (currently 7.5%). Last year, Sagarmatha National Park earned around $3.5 million in fees and permits.

View en route to Everest Base Camp, L-R: Everest, Lhotse (covered in clouds), Ama Dablan.

(All photos: Kashish Das Shrestha)

The international media coverage of the concert yesterday, was a fantastic global promotion for Nepal. Although, some critics did question the logic of hosting this event, arguing that it would disturb the peace at Base Camp. In reality, one could barely even hear the music while walking to the DJ booth from the helipad. The combination of thin mountain air blowing constantly in the Himalayan vastness and a sound system designed for an intimate audience did not allow for as loud an affair as critics may have feared. The event was clearly designed for a global online audience.

“We ended up starting half an hour early,” Ranzen said. “Actually, we went for a soundcheck at 10:30. Then it just got so much fun, we decided to keep playing.”

Keep playing for how long?

“It was 2PM when we wrapped up.”

By Kashish Das Shrestha