Off to Everest Base Camp we go!
30 April 2014
Truth be told, the thought of heading to Everest has never been on my wish list. It seemed like something so beyond my frame of reference, so when Baz suggested it a couple of months ago, I thought that he'd just had too much Patron again.
Baz and his Dad summited Kilimanjaro in 2000 (which sits at 5,895m above sea level) and said that the experience was truly life-changing. After a bit of convinving and some wine, we decided to go ahead with EBC (on the northern side), which sits slightly lower at 5,150m above sea level *gasps for air* I also live closely in accordance with Buddhist principles, so what better way to learn?
We leave this afternoon.
I'll try and update this as aften as possible with the plethora of wifi in Tibet and Nepal :/ But, in case you're interested, here's what we'll be up to:
1 May: Arrive in Kathmandu
After a stopover in Dubai for a few hours, our first stop apparently has many rad restaurants and that's all I know. That's all that's important, yeah? Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal and the country's economic hub. The city stands at an elevation of approximately 1,400 metres.
2 May: Sightseeing
Next to arriving at Base Camp, this is the day I am most excited for. We will be hopping on a little plane and taking a Himalayan scenic flight around the mountains. I have a feeling my eyes will pop out of my skull. Following this, we'll tour Kathmandu and have a look at sights such as:
- The Pashapatinath Temple
- Swayambhunath: one of world’s most glorious, ancient, enigmatic and the holiest of Buddhist Chaityas dating back more than 2000 years
- Bouddhanth: a colossal and ancient Stupa, one of Nepal’s most unique monuments and said to be the world's biggest. It attracts Nepalese pilgrimage of Tibetan stock from as far as Dolpo and Mugu as well as Tibet, Ladhak in India and Bhutan.
- Pashupatinath: The temple of lord Siva‐Pasupatinath with its two‐tiered golden roof and silver doors is famous for its superb Newari architecture situated near the banks of sacred Bagmati River.
3 May: Kathmandu (1,400m) - Lhasa (3,660m)
Off we fly to Tibet. We fly right across the main Himalayan range and this provides us with magnificent mountain views. Following this, we'll take a drive to Lhasa (which literally means "place of the gods") and chill to let our bodies acclimatise as it is one of the highest cities in the world. Or go drinking.
4-5 May: Lhasa
We'll be spending our time checking out the exqusite history and sights that Lhasa has to offer including Potala Palace (OMG!!!), the Sera Monastery, and the Drepung Monastery. Afterwards, we'll grab a drink with the Dalai Lama.
6 May: Lhasa (3,660m) - Gyantse (3,950m)
Today we start our overland journey towards Kathmandu along the Friendship Highway. We cross the Khamba La (4,794m) from which there are stunning views across the waters of Yamdrok‐tso Lake to the snowy summit of Nazin Kang Sa (7,252m). We continue westwards over another high pass the Karo La (5,045m), where we are treated to the spectacular sight of a huge glacier tumbling down to within a few hundred metres of the road. After passing through beautiful valleys and colourful Tibetan villages we arrive in the town of Gyantse.
7 May: Gyantse (3950m) ‐ Shigatse (3900m)
Before leaving Gyantse, we have time this morning to visit the Gyantse Dzong and Gyantse Kumbum. The Dzong is a fort dating from the 14th century from which there are amazing views of both Gyantse itself and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. The Kumbum is a large gold‐domed stupa and its many small chapels house an impressive array of Tibetan Buddhist murals. We then continue on to Shigatse. Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet and after exploring the local market, we'll make a detailed visit to the Tashilhunpo Monastery. This monastery is one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet and there is much to explore within its high surrounding walls.
8 May: Shigatse (3,900m) – Shegar/New Tingri (4,050m)
Today we continue along the Friendship Highway, marvelling once more at the barren yet spectacular landscape of Tibet. Beyond the small town of Lhatse we cross the highest pass on our journey, the Gyamtso La [5220m]. From here we descend to the plains, passing lonely monasteries and the camps of nomadic herders, en route to Shegar and our overnight accommodation.
9 May: Shegar (4,050m) - Rongbuk (5,000m)
We're getting close! Shortly after leaving Shegar, we turn off the Friendship Highway and head south over the Pang La (5,150m) towards the main Himalayan range. The view from the top is incredible with uninterrupted views stretching from Makalu to Shishapangma. Below the pass, Everest initially is hidden from view, but as we turn the corner into the Rongbuk Valley it reappears, more impressive than ever. We stay overnight at the Gompa /Rongbuk Tea House and there will be long drops. Stoked.
10 May: Rongbuk - Everest Base Camp
This is it. And, completely by chance, this happens to be Baz's birthday! We take the 8km walk up to Base Camp. Now, don't be fooled. This little 8km walk will feell ike sprinting 8 Comrades Marathons due to the altitude. We then make our way back to Rongbuk.
11 May: Rongbuk - Zhangmu
This morning we trek up to base camp and then return to Rongbuk. We then rejoin the Friendship Highway and drive to Tingri. Upon leaving Tingri, we cross another two high passes, the Lalung La (5,124m) and the Shung La (5,200m). Once more we are rewarded with magnificent views of the surrounding peaks of Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, Menlungtse and Gauri Shankar. Now we begin our descent from the Tibetan Plateau to Zhangmu just 30km before the Nepalese border.
12 May: Zhangmu - Kathmandu (1,400m)
From Zhangmu we drive to the Friendship Bridge, which spans the Bhote Koshi River and marks the Chinese ‐ Nepalese border. We say goodbye to the Tibetan guide and driver and walk to Nepalese Immigration Control in Kodari where our Nepalese staff will meet us. After completing the re‐entry formalities we continue the drive to Kathmandu and then head home.
And that's it. Despite my intital skepticism, I am SO excited to embark upon this journey with the love of my life and best friend.
Let's do this!
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