Day three in Tibet! Another fitful night with very little sleep and the home stretch to the Everest Base Camp. To be honest, I didn’t have a whole lot of time before the trip to really read up on what to expect. Also I woke up with a mild headache (felt like a hangover) that only seemed to get worse throughout the day. Later in the day we would go over the pass at Qomolangma National Nature Preserve right around 17,000 feet. Highest I’ve ever been!
From Shigatse, it’s about an 8 hour drive and I mostly tried to sleep the headache off, without much success. Besides it was drizzling and raining most of the day and we didn’t think we were going to see much when we got there anyways. But this high up, it’s all mountain weather all the time. So you take what you get. Shigatse is the barley capital of the world, so we were seeing miles an miles of barley fields with bright yellow flowers. Also common along the way are herders sitting on a picnic blanket under an umbrella with a huge flask of Yak milk tea. Of course surrounded by happy Yaks grazing along the hill sides.
We stopped at lunch right around Tingri and had boiled coke with ginger. Apparently it’s a thing to help with some of the Altitude Sickness. The ginger certainly helped with the appetite as the kids ordered spicy Yak meat stir-fry!
By noon we reached the Qomolangma National Nature Preserve (Qomolangma being Tibetan for Mt. Everest). The entrance is at at the Gyastso-La pass, an altitude of 17,000 feet, the highest we’ve ever been!
Some hours later, we started to drive through what felt like a 1,000 switchbacks. Turns out we had reached Pang-La Pass, the top of which, if weather permits, one could see all four peaks (Makalu, Lhotse, Everest and Cho Oyu). We were crossing our fingers, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. The peaks remained shrouded in mystery, though the view of the switchbacks from the top were pretty impressive.
We descended down the switchbacks, drove through abandoned villages and without really much fanfare arrived at the Everest Base Camp. It had been a long day of driving and we were losing light. Quickly settled into the shared tents and explored the immediate surroundings. We could see one face of Mt. Everest briefly peek through the clouds. Apparently it had been raining all day and we were incredibly lucky to even see what we saw!
There was a lot to take in and in hindsight, I wished we had at least two nights to take day trips and explore around the base camp. But it was quite something to stay there so close to Mt. Everest and watch it peek through the clouds. After a restless night, we went rock scrambling around the screes, explored the snow-melt running next to the campsite and even got a surprise view of the peak when the clouds parted ever so briefly!
That was quite the amazing journey to get to the roof of the world and back. There’s so much to explore here and we have already added the Mt. Kailas kora and a trek around Annapurna to the bucket list!
Blogs in this Tibet Travelogue series:
- The Logistics
- Aboard the Qinghai-Tibet Train
- Potala Palace and Jokhang
- Lhasa to Shigatse
- Everest Base Camp
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