Alarm set for 5.30am for a 6am start. Through the night there seemed to be constant dig barking. When we walked around the village yesterday there were loads of stray dogs barking in the sun and it seems that they wake at night!
There was no hot water so we had a ‘festival wash’ and were on the bus in anticipation of the day ahead. It was still dark when we left and there was no heater on the bus so the first couple of hours was pretty chilly! The dawn slowly broke and we found ourselves traveling through a wife valley plain before beginning the climb up to the highest point of out journey.
We reached the Gyatso pass, 5248m (17,056ft), at 8.15 and all got off the bus to take some pictures. It was absolutely freezing and the wind was blustery which made it fell even colder. Even at this height and inhospitable environment there were locals living and immediately the bus arrived they appeared with prayer flags for sale! It was at this point that we could see the Himalayas in the distance. Most of us also added our Kada’s (the white scarf that we were presented with when we arrived in Tibet) to the prayer flags. Kadol said that it will bring us good luck in everything we do!
We got back on the bus and tried to warm up. A short distance down the hill we got or first view of Everest, peeking between two other closer mountains.
We continued on our journey, through several sets of roadworks (not a traffic light in sight) and by 9.30 we had a much better view of the big one, and also another peak Cho Lho (8201m) which is further to the west. The bus stopped for the obligatory photos, but we were still some 110km from Everest.
We carried on down to around 4300m, stopping for a couple of checkpoints and through some spectacular landscape. So far we’ve been amazingly lucky with the weather as there is currently not a cloud in the sky. This makes the hills and mountains look somehow even more dramatic. As we drive through the valley we’ve lost sight of Everest for now.
We stopped for lunch in old Tigre. A seemingly new looking motel with an extensive menu most of which wasn’t available. This didn’t please a couple of people and they had a bit of a strop! Jo idea why some people come to this sort of place expecting what they get at home. The food was OK but the temperature, like many places in Tibet, was warmer outside. The restaurant gave us all another Kada when we left.
Soon after the town we turned off onto an paved road which will take us to be camp in about 3 hours. The initial view was of a very wide farming plane with some nomadic people and livestock with Everest and some other mountains forming a superb backdrop.
The drive to tent city,4km from base camp took almost 4 hours along a very bumpy and windy road. We arrived just after 5 and after ‘checking in’ to our shoehorning homely tent, we walked the 4km up to hear camp. Unfortunately, the peak of Everest was now shrouded in clouds and so when we arrived we took some photos of the prayer flags and added our own kadas and a prayer flag to the number. The wind was very strong and made it pretty cold but also pushed the clouds far across the summit meaning that we got occasional glimpses of the top. Bar camp was not at all how is imagined it and in the distance we could see just a few clusters of tents.
Am alternative to the walk is a minibus service which runs up from tent city and as it was getting late, we opted to take this route down. When we arrived at tent city we looked back and the summit had completely cleared. We spent the next hour or so popping out from the warmth of the tent to take photos as the sun set.
We ate some reasonable food prepared by the tents owners but limited our fluid intake to annoys hanging to get up in the night to use the horrible toilets. (Very similar to those in slumdog millionaire)
One of or group became increasingly unwell (although we think she may have been panicking rather than actually neon suffering from altitude sickness). It was decided that she should descend and at 9pm or guide took her with another divert back down the bumpy road to Tingri, 4 hours away.
Our beds were them made and we were literally tucked in with plenty of blankets to keep us earn with the lights being switched out at 10pm. A couple of his later there was a knock on the for and the police came in to, apparently, do a count.