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Brian’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 17 Feb 2007

Location: Mount Everest, Tibet

MapThere is not much to say here...It's Mt. Everest! The pictures should do all the talking, so I'll just tell you about getting there and the absolute perfect timing of this trip.

We woke up in Shegar by candlelight. Sadly, they didn't magically get power overnight. It was sub-zero inside the room. Getting out of my sleeping bag was a test of my will. I discovered yet one more reason I should get lasic surgery - frozen contact lenses. Putting in freezing contacts is an odd experience, but it definitely wakes you up, which was good because I don't think there was a shower in the whole town. We left around 8am and it was still dark outside. I still don't know why but from Beijing to Mt. Everest it's still all one time zone. I got the middle seat in the frosted windowed land cruiser. It was over 100km to Everest, or Qomolangma, as the locals call it. We had to go through several checkpoints where we had to show passports - even though we weren't leaving the country or even the province. Then the gravel roads hit. One hundred kilometers of switch back, gravel roads lapping over a 5,100m pass then back down and back up again. I was in the middle seat surrounded by frozen windows with no depth perception. The views would have been amazing had we actually been able to see, but instead I was occupied with a bout of car sickness and trying to keep down some breakfast for the 8km hike to basecamp once the rollercoaster ride from hell ended. I managed to keep down 6 peanut m&m's and 4 saltines - A breakfast of champions!

We arrived at the furthest point non-emergency vehicles are allowed to go. However, it was Tibetan New Year and there were no guards stopping us from doing whatever we wanted. Sadly though the driver decided it was too icy to drive all the way up and we had to walk, even though he said earlier he would drive us. We were prepared to hike the 6 or 8km to the actual base camp anyway, which apparently takes about 5 hours there and back. So much to the surprise of our driver Beau, Kernby and I set out and left Kamson with the driver. We made it about an hour into the trek when up from behind us comes our Land Cruiser. I guess it wasn't too icy after all. I think our driver was hoping we would just say screw it and turn around, but when he realized how set we were on seeing the actual base camp he figured the fastest way to get himself home for the new year was to help us get to base camp. It was too easy.

Mt. Everest is absolutely amazing. We had a perfectly clear day and you can see the weather system Everest (as well as the other 8000+ meter peaks) creates in midair. For some God awful reason the Chinese decided to put a permenent structure toilet right dead center at the base of the foothill. I really don't know why they chose that location, but nevertheless, I took full advantage of the highest crapper in the world. My DNA will forever be on Mt. Everest.