Mount Everest Travel Blog› entry 14 of 16 › view all entries
So after a few more days driving and a night spent in the bleakest, most depressing town we'd come across (New Tingri) the day came when we would cover the final stretch to Everest Base camp. We left Old Tingri first thing in the morning and everyone was crossing their fingers it would be a clear day. The ones who had been there before seemed to think that cloud just sort of clings to everest even if the rest of the himalayas has good weather.
After about 3 hours driving we took a little break in a huge grassy field and the weather was looking great! Then in the afternoon the roads got much worse and the weather much much worse. Someone had mentioned that at one point you just sort of come round a corner and all of a sudden Everest reveals itself, so after a while every corner carried plenty of anticipation... but it never happen! We made it all the way to base camp and still couldnt see everest through such thick fog and rain. We checked into our accomodation put on some tea and all just prepared ourselves for a long wait.
The accomodation at Base camp is definately part of the experience by the way. Technically its about 3km walk from the actual base camp... Its a road about 200m long with tents on both sides which are supposed to be guest houses, with names such as 'Hotel California', and other cheesy english names. Each holds 5-6 people, and are really pretty cozy! Our tent had a big sofa in a horseshoe shape which doubled as beds for 5 of us. We each had about 8 thick blankets to use as you please and there was a big metal stove in the middle for hot water and heating. The whole group used about 4 different tents, all of which seemed to be run by the same tibetan family. Our tent was being run by the teenager brother and sister, another one run by the mum, another had the aunty and her baby etc. If you go to bed early enough (ie before the Tibetans) they literally tuck you into bed! So once your in bed theyll just keep piling on more and more blankets til you cant move and definately wont be cold.
So the first night all we saw was a tiny bit of Everest shoulder just as the sun was going down. Next morning the view was much better for about 20 minutes, but still generally grey and partially obscured by clouds. Then it disappeared again! You could make out the shape of the mountain and it turned out it was much further away from base camp than I thought. I expected it to be towering over us but that definately wasnt the case. Most of the group made the 3km walk to base camp proper and waited around 3hours for the view to get better (it got much worse!).
Spent the afternoon watching a little local festival which was happening at the time. There was a circle of people in traditional clothing, doing tradional dancing, while all the other locals (around 40-50) watched and drank beer. Then there was a big tug of war session and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves loads. It was great to watch because it wasnt aimed at tourists at all, it was just like their equivalent of...I dunno, A church fete or something like that. There was only a handful of foreigners and the whole town (the accomodation tent town) had turned up and were having fun. The singing went on all night!
Originally we were actually only gonna stay one night but Renee made the decision to stay one more since we hadnt really had a satisfying view of the mountain yet. The last morning a small group of us (6 in the end) decided to get up just after sunrise and head down to base camp to give ourselves the best chance of having a good view. On the way it was still grey and you couldnt see a thing, but we made it to the little hill at base camp where you get the best possible views (if you go past this point its $200 fine) and waited. For about an hour we were thinking how completely pointless it had been to get up so early (just like Namtso...pfft). Vikash had just said he was gonna give it 5 more minutes and then head back when a tiny bit of mountain became visible. Then the conversation became something along the lines of 'wait...there's another bit there! Another bit over there...!' and within 25 minutes the whole damn fog had disappeared! I couldnt believe how quickly it happened. But there it was...Mt Everest on a clear blue background!
And it goes without saying that it was an amazing sight but im sure there are plenty of other mountains in the world just as impressive to see, even if they arent statistically as tall. And unfortunately I can only imagine how good it would be to see from nearer the actual mountain (The first Base camp, and only one open to non climbers, is nowhere near the base!) Its peak is around 8500m above sea level, but of course youre already 5300m up when you get to see it. But what was really great was the sense of theatre and the way it happened, giving us a sort of strip tease for a few days, before finally arriving just as everyone had given up hope of seeing it as we'd imagined we could. Also looking at the summit and trying to picture how its the highest point of land in the whole world was a good feeling.