Fly to: Kathmandu, Nepal
Internal Transfer: Landcruiser to Friendship Bridge (Nepal/Tibet Border) then approx 10hrs to Old Tingri
Visa required: Yes if British plus an Aliens' Travel Permit
Currency:Chinese Renminbi (RMB)
Time Zone:+8hrs GMT
5 Quick Facts:Click here
Journal:No journal for this trip
Rongbuk & Everest North Face - Tibet
The Rongbuk monastery is situated at the foot of the Rongbuk Glacier 5,100m above sea level (16,700 ft). Recognised as one of the world's highest built & colonised religious structures, the monastery lies 200m below Mt Everest's Northern base camp.
Access to the Rongbuk Glacier is made via an undeveloped road, a road which at times proved somewhat precarious with its tight hairpins and landslide debris. According to documented records the Rongbuk monastery was founded in approx 1902, by a Nyingmapa Lama on a site which for 400yrs already housed a number of meditation huts (used historically by monks/hermits). Here imbedded high in the cliff walls, up & down the valley lie the diminished remains of ancient meditation caves.
At first light I left Old Tingri to begin my 4x4 journey to the foot of the Rongbuk Glacier. Overhead clouds fleeted shrouding the dawn sky with a dense and impenetrable veil. Cloud formations rose up with vengeance. Like a cluster of white mushrooms they danced above the distant Nepali border; this, a sure sign that the monsoon season was now well & truly under way.
Each turn of the dusty, boulder filled track awarded me a different perspective of this barren landscape. The vibrant blue sky was rapidly turning Beijing grey & with each kilometre travelled so diminished hope of my anticipated view. Fate it would seem was holding me in the balance, any chance of seeing the mighty North Face of Mt Everest was now fading by the second.
Suddenly, in the blink of an eye everything changed, the skies cleared & in a moment of absolute divinity I found myself gazing, awe-struck upon the mighty North Face. Without a single thought Goose bumps rushed up my legs, a lump formed in my throat and my eyes seemed to be welling in utter amazement. I would never have thought I'd be at all bothered about seeing the North Face of this the World's largest mountain but my reaction to it was 100% emotional.
Quite simply I was blown-away; such was the domineering presence of this spectacular mountain. Mt Everest (8,844m) stood casting her imposing shadow upon the world around & everything beneath. Known locally in Tibet as Qomolangma, it's easy to comprehend why such a peak was named 'Saint/Holy Mother' as this really is an earthly manifestation of Mother Nature herself.
I was stood at a height of 5,300m and I can't imagine for one moment what it would be like to stand upon Everest's summit, in fact the very thought sent shivers of fear and panic through my entire body. Right now as I gaze upon this mighty peak I have nothing but the utmost respect & total admiration for those who have risked their life, limbs & mental wellbeing to scale the ultimate beast.
On leaving the Rongbuk glacier the scenery once again transformed into a barren, sparsely populated landscape. Here, across the expansive plateau I witnessed cranes as they stood in the gentle waters, wild kiang (ass) and Tibetan fox.
Tibet is anything but a comfortable place to visit. The sense of oppression experienced here was at times overwhelming, however what pushes me away from Tibet is also what draws and fascinates me. During my time here & since my return I have found myself captivated by this land of striking contrast; this place where a geographical paradox exists. A place where the worlds tallest mountain range rises from a plateau that is flat, barren & desolate.
Upon this landscape I truly felt as if the sky & its heavens were within touching distance, here eternally positioned, never more than a fingertip away.