22 November 2009

Forbidden Mtn Railway Re-opens

My personal fascination with the yeti, Expedition Everest, and Serka Zong is well documented. Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s first, but hopefully not last, mountain has put a sparkle in my eye since the day it was announced. Some could, and do, say my enthrallment in Everest comes from the deeply layered backstory and rich environment that speak to me as a writer. Expedition Everest, aside from being an incredible attraction, is also a living mystery with clues and information continually being discovered and revealed. Today’s Back Issue is another page in the thriller.

Framed inside the offices of the Himalayan Escapes, Tours and Expeditions offices is an article from The Anandapur Reporter. Dating to the opening ceremonies of Himalayan Escapes, the article chronicles the ninety year history of the Anandapur Rail Services, Royal Anandapur Tea Co., and the Forbidden Mountain. Situated among articles whose titles include Trekker’s Feared Lost and Herders Report Missing Yak, the celebratory nature of Himalayan Escapes’ opening turns this article into more of a cautionary tale.
Forbidden Mtn Railway Re-opens
Locals Fear Wrath of Yeti

SERKA ZONG – Despite dire warnings from irate local residents, the old Anandapur Rail Services route through Forbidden Mountain was re-opened today. Closed since 1934 under mysterious circumstances, the railroad, formerly operated by the Royal Anandapur Tea Co., was refurbished by Himalayan Escapes, Tours and Expeditions. The intent, say the operators, is to provide safe, efficient transport to base camp at Mount Everest and environs. Hundreds of western trekkers and climbers are expected to make the journey to Serka Zong to book passage on the new service.

In the heyday of the great tea plantations that flourished in the region, private rail lines were established to carry produce to distant markets. The Royal Anandapur Tea Company used the Forbidden Mountain route extensively in the 1920’s and early 1930’s. However, beginning in 1933, the railroad was plagued with accidents. Some drew a connection between the mishaps and increasing British expeditionary attempts to reach the summit of Mount Everest, invoking the spirit of the guardian of the sacred mountain. By 1934, continual equipment breakdowns and track breakages caused the tea company to shutter its facilities and pull up stakes. The legend of the sacred beats continued to loom large among locals, coming to a head in 1982 with the tragic disappearance of the Forbidden Mountain Expedition.

However, warnings and naysayers aside, the daring entrepreneurs behind Himalayan Escapes were determined to put on a loud, colorful show to celebrate their achievement. Local government officials in attendance trumpeted the event as a landmark enterprise, marking a new era of prosperity and opportunity for Serka Zong. It is indeed our hope that this is the case.

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