I write these lines perhaps more for me than for you that you may be reading right now. This is the story of my encounter with the roof of the world, the great mountain of Everest, the "mother of the universe" ...
Road to Everest, the highest mountain in the worldALTITUDE 4,330 m I admit it! I tend to be like the skeptics who look with amazement at those slogan that grow like grass, that "sell you the shovel and haven't discovered gold" (as Sele sometimes tells me) of the type "fulfill your dreams", "take the backpack and go 1 year to go around the world", "don't be a tourist, be an explorer"... And not because I don't believe in the final message but I don't believe in the people who use them as loudspeakers. I strongly think that we each have our own happiness and in our own balance, traveling can never be the only ingredient. In my case, family and personal balance plays such an important role as the virus inside me to reach places that stop time. Today I was going to be one of them ... but I never imagined that not sharing it with the people I love most would be all a life lesson for me.
Breakfast, buying some extra provisions (16 CNY) in Shegar (since we will sleep camping again) and seeing the spectacular day that opens before us (we have a little scared of the snow of Sakya yesterday, we may be lucky to see that Everest) we have set an early route to the icing on this trip.
A few kilometers from starting we find one of the strictest control points since we left Lhasa. In fact, it is the first time that they make us get out of the car with our passports (so far Bruno and Tambor did it) although as there are not many people, we hardly take a few minutes. From there there is a small journey to the point where we will leave the Friendship Road, the G318, to go through what the point of entry and control towards the domains of Everest Base Camp in Tibet.
From this moment (around 9:30) we realize again, as days ago, the importance of having Irene Youlan Tours not only as an agent but as a true consultant specialized in this trip. Why? We could have arrived perfectly yesterday evening from Sakya up to our goal today but every landscape, every viewpoint, every part of today's journey, every single sensation and free time at the foot of Everest are worth every minute of gift since you go through that door and you don't have to do it quickly and running.
ALTITUDE 5,200 m Curve to the left, ramp up, curve to the right, ascent and more ascent. We have reached the highest point I've been in my life and, next to which we will sleep tonight, the situation that I was so afraid of before coming because of its high altitude but ... I am very well! In the background we began to see that huge 8,848 meter monster that is Everest, the roof of the world, along with other eighty-less-giant Ochomiles and SEE PERFECTLY! No fog, no rain, no clouds to cover it
April is a great date to come to Tibet, not only because of the absence of mass Chinese tourism but because it is the best time to enjoy the most incredible panoramas of Everest from any point of this road (the same does not happen from Nepal since although it can be seen, from there sometimes it is not so obvious)
In this context it is important to know that there are great differences between reaching the Everest North Base Camp in Tibet or the Everest South Base Camp in Nepal.HOW TO GET TO THE EVEREST BASE CAMP? BASIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DOING IT IN NEPAL OR TIBET
Without going into detail (as it would give for an article itself), there is a fundamental difference between reaching the Everest Base Camps on its north (Tibet) or south (Nepal) face which is the "way to get there". At Tibet is possible to go to the same base by vehicle by a road enabled to what they call the Tourist Base Camp (about 5,200 meters) and from there only mountaineers with permits can access the ascent (about 5,545 meters). In Nepal, however, reaching the equivalent in the south (about 5,364 meters) requires a week of trekking from Lukla (about 2,860 m). Some considerations:
- For travelers, both Base Camps are an achievable goal where to walk at the foot of a colossus but Everest climbing is only reserved for climbers prepared
- Acclimatizing in Tibet to reach the Base Camp is something that you have already achieved after several days at an average of 4,000 meters through its territory while In Nepal, altitude sickness is a critical aspect that you should consider since acclimatization will go from 2,860 m to 5,364 m making efforts not very large but with evident lack of oxygen. However, if you manage to acclimatize and you like hiking, it is a rewarding experience.
- From the economic point of view the valuation is complex Since in China the prices are somewhat higher, it requires a permit and a visa, but it is less time to travel and in Nepal the accommodations and food are cheaper, but it requires more preparations (porter, flight to Lakla, agency or not ) and more time.
Without ever losing sight of the silhouette of Everest that observes us from its titanic height, we advance in a steep descent of a thousand curves, authentic Tibetan villages and ruins of ancient settlements.
Especially striking are some that I have not been able to identify on the right side of the road and that bring to my head that this ancient kingdom of Guge in the western part of Tibet will be another future trip in itself.
For a while we have lost Everest sight of both going up and down, curves and so on. They are barely less than 100 kilometers but the landscapes that we want to stop stopping are so extraordinarily beautiful and different.IMPORTANT NOTE YOU MUST READ: If you have reached this article of travel diary to Tibet and you get this box is that already We are within the Autonomous Region of Tibet and you must know 3 data:1 This story is part of a complete guide to our trip to Tibet and has many more items that will help you prepare yours. Mind you, Tibet is more than Lhasa although many packages are limited to it.
2 It is NOT possible to travel to Tibet for free. Beyond the Chinese visa itself, it is necessary to obtain a Tibet Entry Permit that you will be required to catch any flight / train that goes inside and during your trip. This procedure ONLY AND EXCLUSIVELY can be obtained by hiring a tour with a specialized agency. We have traveled with Youlan Tours which also allows you to design a Tailor-made trip with different unique experiences to traditional routes throughout China, ndo works with Spanish guides.
3 It doesn't even have to say you must have travel insurance but BE CAREFUL, BE CAREFUL, you need an appropriate one that allows you to perform activities up to 5,200 meters and not everyone has that coverage (or almost none). Ours, as always, is that of IATI Insurance although this time we need the BACKPACK mode to have all the coverage at those altitudes
Rombuk Monastery, the highest at the foot of the Himalayas
Can not be! The road takes Everest on the horizon again but now it is more impressive than ever. Giant, majestic ... fearsome if one thinks of all the people who have lost their lives scaling it.
It is the last part of the journey, which leaves behind the inhospitable area that runs between the border of Tibet and Nepal where the Himalayas acts as an impenetrable physical border and brings us closer to where we will spend the night but leaves some of the more photogenic snapshots.
ALTITUDE 5,100 m Tells the story that explorers like George Mallory and Andrew Irvine walked for more than 5 weeks from Darjeeling, in the hills at the foot of the Himalayan mountain on the Indian side, to get to the place where we were already entering lathe 13.10, the last Chinese control point at 200 meters of Everest Base Camp in Tibet.
We are in the Rombuk Monastery, at 5,100 meters altitude, which is said to be the tallest monastery in the world and an extraordinary balcony to Everest, "one of the places with the most spectacular views in the world"according to many writers. In front of him an iconic image present in dozens of postcards, the famous round stupa of Rombuk that contains a locket.
He Rombuk Monastery belongs to the Nyingma sect of Tibetan Buddhism (do you remember the brushstrokes of Gyantse chapter with the main sects?), that is, that of the "red caps" or the old unreformed school of Indian origin, founded in the eighth century with the introducers of Buddhism in Tibet. Unlike the others, it is very focused on the individual's meditation.
This sacred place was founded in 1902 by Ngawang Tenzin Norbu (name received as a child directly by Rongbuk Lama) and became an important pilgrimage site until it was completely destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in 1974. What we see right now is the place where it was rebuilt and it is possible that in the afternoon we can go in search of its original location.
Pilgrims from Nepal and Mongolia continue to look here for those annual Buddhist ceremonies that became the most important in the Himalayas although times have changed and now it is the Sherpa Monastery in Tengboche, Nepal, which hosts the most important.BRUSHED TO UNDERSTAND TIBETAN BUDDHISM (VOL9):
During all these days we have been talking about important sacred writings that Buddhism practiced in the Himalayas has led to more than 20,000,000 followers in the world. What do they really consist of?
Buddhism has never really come to have a holy book such as the Bible for Christians but it is based on a series of speeches given by Buddha or one of his disciples nearest callssūtras or suttas. Yes there is a kind of collection called Tripitaka (literally "the three baskets") that compiles these in the Vinaya Pitaka or "collection of monastic discipline", the Pitaka Sutra or "collection of speeches, dialogues of the Buddha" and the Abhidharma Pitaka or "collection of the highest doctrine".
On the other hand, Vajrayāna Buddhism (and therefore Tibetan) subscribes to the literature known as buddhist tantras dating back at least to the seventh century focus on the use of mantras and dharanis to cure diseases, control the climate and / or generate wealth
ALTITUDE 5,200 m Time to stay! He Everest Base Camp in Tibet, 200 meters from Rombuk, has an area ready to welcome tourists which is based on a kind of Mongolian influence shops prepared to eat and sleep with some nearby "Tibetan type" bathrooms (come on, forget about showers)
We will sleep in one of them, although this time we will not be alone like that night camped in the sacred Yamdrok Lake. There are more options on the road before arriving at the monastery such as the Everest Tent, the Zhufeng Hotel or the Rongbuk Monastery Guesthouse but they are further away to live the full experience.
I also have to recognize that The yurt inside is very cozy. The girls with Mongolian features who run it very kind and those noodles with eggs that have prepared us have tasted like glory
We take advantage of the fact that the day has closed a bit and that we still have a connection on the router to write to the family and tell them that we are well. The 5,200 m seem to be unable with us ... at least for now.
Sunset at Everest Base Camp in TibetALTITUDE 5,200 m It is around 16'00 when it seems that the highest border in the world has cleared again, that which includes Everest and its neighboring peaks Lhotse (8516 m), Nuptse (7855 m) and Changtse (7580 m ) that separates Tibet from Nepal.
Everest in these lands is also known as Sagarmāthā or "Front of Heaven" (in Nepali), Zhūmùlangm Fēng (in Chinese) or Chomolungma or Qomolangma or "Mother of the Universe" in Tibetan. It is precisely this last nomenclature that reads the stone that marks the 5,200 m in the Base Camp.
While late-night arrives, we have decided to walk for a while to the point where they let tourists do it. From here we see numerous yaks loaded with supplies and materials that approach the other side of the mound where the Base Camp of professional climbers is located, a little higher, those who pay up to USD 10,000-15,000 to have equipment, guide, permits and provisions to start their own challenge but also allows famous or rich people to make their own madness "at the expense of others" as they tell us here (that is for another story)
From this point looking at that roof of the world we see what looks like a small monastery although we do not understand very well what it does here if Rombuk we have already visited it on our arrival so, not without stopping several times (up to 8 with the backpack in tow !) Because every effort with so little oxygen is paid (and here they say we have 38% compared to what I usually have in A Coruña), curiosity takes us to the top of some rocks.
It's Ronbuk! How can it be? It turns out that tells the story that Nyingmapa Lama Ngawang Tenzin Norbu founded this monastery in a area of meditation cabins and caves that had been used by nun communities since the 18th century. That place is this and not the one we have seen before that is after the destruction after the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
If the previous one was special, what can we say about this place? We go into what looks like inside one of the main meditation caves, very close to the cliff that overlooks the valley we come from, and we descend through a small hole in the ground that leads us to a "secret" room. We get goosebumps! We are in one of those locations that emanate magic, and only safeguarded by a few monks of the main monastery, and which houses carvings and sacred manuscripts, stone walls of Mani and dozens of other treasures.
Still impressed comes the desired time, Everest begins to turn its colors into more vivid ones typical of the sunset. It's time to look for my place in the rock. However, as if something were talking to me, that moment was going to be for me (and Sele suppose he had his own on another nearby rock). Such a magical place, such a special moment, a challenge met and I didn't want to take pictures, or think about social networks or anything at all, so I put the camera to record and sat down, simply (in fact I don't have a picture of me)
What went through my head? I don't know how to explain it very well yet but I think that moment I had waited so long It was not complete. Olivia barely has 4 little tables and, somehow, I would have loved to share this moment with her and Paula ... and even with little Nico I don't know if it would hold the 5,200 meters and the little oxygen in this place.VIDEO OF A POPE TO HIS PEQUE FOR YOU TO SEE SOME DAY: I keep this video in case one day you, Oli, give you to read your father's diaries. It is earlier than this moment (I recorded it going up) but it says things that when you get older I hope to tell you
I thought about what reason they had the last words of that "Stupid" diary Alex Supertramp in his adventures in Alaska what did they say "Happiness is only real when shared"I was in front of one of the most beautiful sunsets that a person can aspire to, that 8,848 m hercules changing colors in front of my "privileged box" as if it were the most special theater function.
There are those who maintain that Everest really is not the highest mountain in the world, that everything depends on the perspective from which you look. If the base is taken as a starting point, that honor would correspond to Kilimanjaro in Tanzania with about 5,600 m (for the 5,200 from which Everest leaves). If we take the base to the bottom of the sea, Hawaii has the Mauna Kea volcano with more than 10,000 meters. No matter, you look where you look, nobody can deny that Everest is the point of the earth closest to the sky and the stars, those that begin to appear as it gets dark
Already in the yurt, after another exquisite dinner for the place that we are, the night will not be the best that we have a good time because of the cold (I take a double bag taking advantage of the fact that it is only us and we do not have more travelers) or for The hard beds that await us. However, I didn't want to miss the purest cosmos on the planet. After sunset over the Himalayas, Everest Base Camp in Tibet is losing activity and with him, the most absolute silence and the paradise of stars and celestial bodies without the most extraordinary light pollution that exists. Olivia, I promise to return with you one day (and I always keep my promises)
Isaac (with Sele), from Everest Base Camp (Tibet)
EXPENSES OF THE DAY: 16 CNY (approx 2.13 EUR)