Tibet changed my life. I have never looked at the world the same since. If you want to touch the deepest part of your soul, visit this land. The roots of spirituality are here. The sites and landscape are breathtaking.
When I came many things were on my list to see. The temples and palaces of Lhasa, the once forbidden city. And a less travelled trek to Everest Base Camp to see the spectacular North Face of the highest mountain in the world.
We left Lhasa to travel to Old Tingri in Southern Tibet, where we would start the trek. Traveling through high passes, and the towns of Gyantse and Shigatse. Getting a real feel for the remoteness of this place. And the spiritual energy from its people.
The trek takes an average of four days from Old Tingri to Everest Base Camp. We were on a tight schedule with an overland trip to Western Tibet for the Saga Dawa Festival at Mt. Kailash afterwards. We would complete the trek in 3 and half days. Long, long days of walking on the roof of the world.
This is not like a trek to Everest Base Camp in the Khumbu Valley of Nepal. No rhodendrum forests, great lodges or hot showers. This is the high desert. A daily average altitude of 4500 meters. Little vegetation, and very few people. Some wildlife, which we had no luck spotting.
But it’s beautiful. So quiet and peaceful. I think it’s still the quietest place I’ve ever been.
You can image being a Tibetan in another time. Crossing this plain with your goats, sheep or maybe yak. On a pilgrimage to Lhasa in hopes of seeing the Dalai Lama. Maybe running into a sheep herder or nomad camp like we did.
The road not paved at the time of filming continues right to base camp. You’ll see a motorcycle, supply truck or tour bus pass you by every so often. Sometimes a Chinese Army jeep.
After 3 days the first sighting of Everest. British explorer George Mallory attempted to reach the top in 1924. His body still remains near there at 8200 meters. His climbing partner Sandy Irvine was never found.
The north face. It’s the grandest view of Everest. And the last time I would see it.
Everest Base Camp Tibet, China. Originally established by the British for their expeditions in the 1920’s including Mallory’s last one. This is the non-climbers portion of the camp. Beyond the hill you see is reserved for Everest climbers with special permits.
Despite the snow this was an amazing adventure. Maybe because of the snow I have an even richer experience.
My favourite George Mallory quote about Mt. Everest is so appropriate to any dream of adventure and travel.
“So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.”
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