Monday, May 22, 2006

Everest Base Camp!!

I cannot believe that I have actually been on a mountain, 6,000 meters up. Everest Base Camp was absolutely one of the highlights of my entire trip. Everest itself is stunning from a distance, and becomes even more imposing and beautiful the closer you get.

As we drove through mountain passes, climbing up to 5,000 meters, I suddenly felt the effects of the altitude. Arriving at the Rongphu monestary, where we would spend the night sleeping at over 5,800 m, I had a mild headache and it felt like someone was sitting on my chest. After a few deep breaths from the oxygen cans we had brought, I felt better and was ready to start the 7 km trek to Everest base camp.

The path to base camp was empty and as we walked, we passed only yaks, prayer flags and a perfectly clear stream. The mountains around us were massive and ahead, Everest looked massive, despite the fact that we were only 2,000 m from its summit. The entire walk I kept my eyes fixated on Everest's summit. It was even more stunning than I could have imagined and I was surprised at the impact it had on me.

Base camp itself was nothing too impressive. Divided into two sections, the first portion is a collection of small tents run by local Tibetans. The second section, cut off to anyone not climbing Everest (a $200 US fine if you enter this portion of the camp), is where the actual climbers are based. Otherwise, base camp is just a large, windy stretch of the mountain, with a view of the summit. We climbed a small hill at base camp to hang some Tibetan prayer flags and spent some time just sitting around in wonder of how high we actually were.

Leaving base camp I developed a terrible headache and nosebleed from the altitude. That night was a difficult one because of the altitude and the accommodations. The monestary was basic - to say the least - and the rooms were freezing, despite our sleeping bags. With four of us in the room, all I heard all night was the sound of oxygen being inhaled and people blowing their noses. None of us slept.

The next morning, we awoke to watch the sunrise over the mountain. Leaving, I was struck at the fact that I was sad to go. Over the last few months I have seen so much and passed through so many places that I often don't have time to feel sad when I leave. However, for some reason when I left Everest, all I could think was, "This is the last time I will be here."

Everest was amazing, and despite the small bout of altitude sickness, I still have to say that it was the one of the most incredible things I have ever seen.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy shit Della. As if your trip didn't already totally put my year in Japan to shame already. EVEREST!?! That's that crazy shit. This is something that even I, who wasn't along, won't forget. And your f*%#in blog was published in the Globe and Mail!!! You da man, cool guy.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous mom said...

Well you actually made it to Everest. I was a little worried you would not get there when you left India and back tracked to Japan. Thirty three hours on a Chinese train to get to Beijing.-- hard bunk--OUCH. At least you have a bunk and can stetch out. Did you think to take anything soft to put under you. Trust you can find an english menu on the train and you survive to see the Great Wall of China. Loads of Love.

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lin Lin
We want to hear how your train trip was to Bejing. Your Uncle made a donation to local pick pickets in Shanghai so beware when u arrive there. Hope all is well. Have fun.
See you soon

9:26 AM  

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