On August 25, 2011, together with 24 group members on a 35-seat bus, after 5 hours’ bumpy drive, we successfully reached the Mt.Everest Base Camp and (EBC) and saw the unparalleled beauty of the snow covered peak of Mt.Everest under a clear sky. I’d like to make a trip report on our exciting trip, which may be helpful for those who have the same dream to view the highest mountain in the world at a shortest distance as a common tourist.
All the 24 foreign travelers on our tour group were from Venezuela. In the past few days all the way from Lhasa to Yamdroke Lake, Nangartse, Gyantse, Shigatse and Tingri, our bus driver and I used every chance to inquiry about the road condition leading to the Mt.Everest Base Camp through other drivers and travelers who had just returned from the Everest Base Camp since it was our first time to visit Mt.Everest. But our local Tibetan tour guide having been to Mt.Everest Base Camp for many times was very carefree and confident about the trip.
Later we knew a bus trip from the main National Highway 318 to the Mt. Everest Base Camp would take 5 or 6 hours for a 100km mountain road mainly due to the poor and bumpy dirt road, but 3 and half hours for a land cruiser.
On August 24, 2011, we had a very easy schedule starting from Shigatse at 11:00am and arriving at Baiba Township of Shegar Town in Tingri at 3:00pm. Later in the afternoon we either took a break at our lodging hotel – Qomolangma Hotel or wandered on the only street in the Baiba Township, grabbing some snacks and water, or bottled oxygen for the next day’s expedition.
We all agreed to get up early due to the long road trip the next day. To our pleasant surprise, Qomolangma Hotel was very cooperative and ready to provide breakfast or dinner at any time clients demanded. We planned to get up at 4:00am and set the breakfast at 4:30am the next day.
Though in August, in the early morning we all felt a little bit cold because of the day and night temperature difference on the plateau. Some of the tourists had bought bottled. Oxygen from the shops on the street in the township just in case. Sunglass, sunscreen, sun hats and water were basic for the long and hard road trip at an average sea-level of 4000m. We set off at 5:30am from Qomolangma Hotel and it was still a little dark outside. I took my first photo on our long march to Mt.Everest.
It was still a liitle dark outside
We left Baiba Township and drove along the National Highway 318 down to the south for about 10km, then we had to stopped for border check at Lugonggong Police checkpoint. Everybody on the bus must get off and wait in line inside the check building for check one by one.
After we came back from Mt.Everest Base Camp to Baiba Township, we would have to do the same check again. As a foreigner, you must have two permits – Travel Tibet Permit and Alien Travel Permit.
We had to stopped for border check at Lugonggong Police checkpoint
After finishing the border security check and we all got on the bus again, and continued to drive about 7km along the National Highway 318, then we saw a signboard pointing to the special road forking from the main asphalt road to Mt.Everest. Now we knew we were about to be on the bumpy road to fulfil our dream.
Embarked on the 100km Mt.Everest Base Camp dirt road
The moment we touched on the mountain road, we realized that why the 100km Everest Base Camp Road would take 5 or 6 hours for a bus trip. The dirt road condition was terrible, tough, harsh, bumpy like a washing board with a corrugated surface and some full of dirt holes!
Bumpy like a washing board with a corrugated surface
Not long we had to stop again to have our entrance tickets checked for Qomolangma (Mt.Everest) Nature Reserve at the checkpoint in the first village on our 100km road trip.
Entrance tickets checked for Qomolangma (Mt.Everest) Nature Reserve
Now we began to have about two hours’ ascent drive along the rugged dirt road up to the pass – Gula Pass (or Zegula pass). Some crazy climbers would get up in small hours and get to the Pass to catch the sunrise over Mt.Everest! We were very lucky that the sky was clear with a fine day.
All of us expected to be on the platform on the Gula Pass to see Mt.Everest. For this, we had to endure endless twists and turns, and hairpin bends which elevated us little by little towards the azure sky and the pass.
We had to endure endless twists and turns, and hairpin bends.
Just over the Gula Pass 5200m, there was an open platform for people to park and view the magnificent Mt.Everest and other peaks. All of us were amazed by the view unfolding before us and couldn’t belive the beautiful views of the snow mountains were real! It was so beautiful!
People were busy taking pictures of the fantastic beauty of highest mountains in the world.
Now still excited, we started to drive down the pass toward the base. “Hiking up is easy, but hiking down is difficult”. We had to drive slowly along the zigzag roads. The scenery was magnificent with solemn Himalayan hillsides framing here and there on the way.
We passed small Tibetan settlements, nomadic herdsmen wandering across the wide arid plains, yaks, wild rabbits, wild sheep, dzopkyos (yak-cow hybrids), and awe-inspiring mountain peaks – a paradise on earth!
We drove slowly down the Gula Pass 5200m with solemn Himalayan hillsides framing before us.
checkpoint at the last Village – Quzong Hamlet (Quzong Village) before we reached Mt.Everest Base Camp, we again had to go through the border check at the checkpost at Quzhong Village, the last village on the way to the base.
The border check at the checkpoint at Quzhong Village, the last village on the way to the base.
After Quzong Village, we drove along the valley leading to Rongbuk Monastery. On the way, we saw some climbers rode bikes to the camp. Rongbuk Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Nyingma sect. Now there are some nuns and monks libing in the temple. The monastery lies by the foot of the Rongbuk Glacier at 5,154m.
It is the highest religious building in the world. Now it provides some basic accommodations for climbers. Rongbuk Monastery is considered as a gateway to Mt. Everest. From this good location you get breathtaking views of the magnificent Mt.Everest.
Some climbers rode bikes to the camp
The Mt.Everrest Base Camp is about 8km south of Rongbuk Monastery. In the middle of the way between the Camp and the Monastery, there is a “Tent Community”, also known in the tourist book as “Za-Rombuk”. The “tent community” is set up by locals for 6 months of each year. The tents in Za-Rombuk seems cozy and warmer, and friendly. Climbers or leisure travlers share their temporary home. The tents are windproof, spacious. Heating comes from the stove in the middle of the room which burns yak and goat dung.
You can choose a bed, take some blankets, or use blanket yourself and go to sleep. There is no running tape water, but each tent usually takes water from the local snow-melt stream sand has a barrel in the tent. The toilets are the standard squat over a hole in the ground.
Tent community is also a parking lot as well a leisure place for relaxation. We parked our bus in the tent community area. From the “Tent Community”, we had to take the local shuttle bus (environment protection bus ) to the real Camp, about 4km south of the Tent Community.
This is the “Tent Community” compound, 4km north of the EBC camp, where people can stay overnight, buying water or snacks, as well as it is a parking lot.
When we reached the Mt.Everest Base camp, everybody again had to go through security check lining up at the small room by the entrance to the base camp. Once inside the compound of the base, people were allowed to ascend a hill to have a clear view of the magnificent Mt.Everest.
Normal tourists were not allowed to go down the hill to climb Mt.Everest. It was not the best time for Mt.Everest climbing, so there were no tents here in the base camp. March to Mary, September and October are the best season for Mt.Everest climbing. The Rongbuk river flows through the valley, constituting an amazing view of water, peaks, blue sky…
Everybody again had to go through security check at the small room by the entrance to the base camp.
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