Friday, May 12, 2006

Mt. Qomolongma

I can't believe we were at Everest Base Camp! It was such a surreal feeling. Even now, when I think Everest, it seems like such an unreachable point but we were actually there face to face with Mt. Qomolongma. How cool is that.

Getting there was a mixture of adventure, fun, and frustration. We had to pay an entrance fee for our land cruiser of 405 yuan and an additional 65 yuan per person. This might seem reasonable if the land cruiser could actually go all the way to EBC but it actually has to stop an hour before we reach EBC so we all can take the so called 'unpolluting' bus from a small town where we had to pay an additional 80 yuan per person to sit in a Dodge cargo van. Yep, unpolluting alright. Here is the first view of Qomolongma.

This van took us to Rongphu Monestary where we were to spend the night at a guesthouse before making the 2 hour trek to EBC the next morning or you could ride a horse cart for 60 yuan. Unfortunately for us, we reached Rongphu a little late the guesthouse was full. More on this accomodation and lovely washroom adventure later. The sight of Mt. Qomolongma from Ronghu was amazing at night. The moon was so bright and the mountain was shining. We stood there in the moonlight and just gazed at the mountain. It was an amazing sight. We couldn't believe we were actually there looking at Everest!!! I wish I had a tripod then because it was just so beautiful.

In the morning, we loaded our bags with snickers bars, chips (pringles style since we heard that regular bags are bad because they may explode due to the altitude!) and peanuts (high energy!). The 2 hour trek up wasn't too bad. It was beautiful as we saw Everest in front of us the entire time.

There were portions where there were switchbacks for the horse carts but we decided to take the short cut instead and headed straight up. That was tiring. It took us a while to catch our breath afterwards (thought we might need our oxygen at that point!). Thought maybe we should have taken one of the few horse carts that had passed us by then.

Just over 2 hours later, EBC comes into view. It was a little odd at first as we were immediately greeted by a row of 'hotels'! All on EBC!! Very odd. After passing these and being constantly invited in for tea at these 'hotels', we see a clearer view of Everest and the base camp where many expedition tents were set up.

Unfortunately for us, we couldn't get close enough to these expedition tents as we would have been charged 200 USD each for crossing the line. Too bad. I really wanted to see what those expeditioners were up to and when they thought they could summit! :D You can see many expedition tents up in the distance.

Here we are enjoying Mt. Qomolongma ... and passing out from the lack of oxygen (Ian more so than me) ;)!


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