For years, Mount Everest had increasingly fascinated me, and exerted an attraction I could not withstand forever. While traveling from Lhasa towards Nepal, it is actually quite easy to visit. When I woke up the morning of our trip to EBC as Everest Base Camp is conveniently called, I felt excitement right away. We had a small break because of a flat tyre, which made me a little impatient. After a great classic ride up Pang La pass on a dirt road with an endless number of switchbacks, the view suddenly opened to us. There it was: Mount Everest, part of a chain of snowy white mountains contrasting perfectly with the deep blue sky behind it. My breath was taken away, not so much for the altitude of 5,120m, but because of the spectacular view. We had to deal with many more switchbacks on our way down, passed some villages in Dzaka Valley, but then had the misfortune of another flat tyre - without another spare. Eventually, this forced us to turn around and sleep in Shegar. The next day, we had an uneventful drive, and arrived quite early in EBC.
All the way, my eyes were just fixed on the white summit of the legendary mountain, and I could feel my fascination materialising as we drove on, as if Everest put a spell on me. After leaving our stuff in the yak-hair tent settlement, I quickly walked towards the actual EBC. Using a shortcut, I found myself on a ridge above Base Camp, with particular good views over Rongphu Glacier and Mount Everest at its end. An exciting moment: apart from Mount Everest itself, also Base Camp has acquired a somewhat legendary status. Dispersed over the wide, grey gravel plain below me, right at the end of Rongphu Glacier, Base Camp looked peaceful and colourful. I walked down, crossed the frozen river and entered the camp. I just could not resist the temptation of walking on, and started climbing where I saw three men coming down, in the middle of the field. That proved to be a major mistake. Very soon, I found myself scrambling over boulders, some of which appeared loose, I walked and slid around small lakes, some of which deep blue water, some of which frozen, and I did not advance very fast. Then, I heard something falling behind me, and as I looked back, I realised I was standing on the middle of the glacier, and I had just walked close to an edge of the glacier - with ice falling down from it. I decided to get to the side of the valley as soon as I could, where I joined the actual path leading up Mount Everest. I was very happy to see this path, to see footsteps!
By this time, Everest had disappeared in the clouds, but I still had great views over Rongphu Glacier: a stone-covered icy snake very slowly pushing its way down the valley, interspersed with small lakes, with white peaks sticking out of the grey cover. I continued my way up, and was glad with the long time I had spent at altitude: it was easy to push on. Unfortunately, I had to turn around to be back before darkness just as I was getting close to Camp I at over 5,600m. Mount Everest reappeared again, and the warm sunlight of the late afternoon falling on its North Face made for another marvellous sight. The night in the yak-hair tent was another adventure: without heating, but with several thick layers I actually did not feel cold. The next morning, I woke up early enough next to a bottle of solidly frozen water, and walked up to Everest Base Camp again. I found a large rock in the mostly frozen river running down from Rongphu Glacier, where I installed myself for stunning views of Mount Everest waking from its sleep. Still now, I could not take my eyes off the giant, especially since it changed appearance constantly. At times covered by a cloud, then appearing in full force with its pyramidal peak high into the blue sky, the sunlight reaching always lower on its sides, casting shadows over the steep flanks. As time passed, I could see the characteristic snow plume coming off the summit of the mountain, caused by the fact that its peak scratches the lower jet stream: even from a distance, it was easy to see that the windforce must be formidable. It was hard to say goodbye to Everest; my only consolation is that this will definitely not be the last visit. My fascination has become much more intense.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Mount Everest North Face (China). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Mount Everest North Face.
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