How can one manage to see Mt.Everest from up close without having to do an arduous trek to the base camp or without flying one of the fancy Everest joy flights from Kathmandu to watch the Everest from a plane’s window or without the will to risk one’s life summiting the Everest? It is simple, cross over to Tibet, drive all the way over to the Everest Base Camp by a great road and soak in the majestic views of the Mt. Everest from up close. It is China after all, they can build anything! Even a smooth road right to the base of Everest!!
Imagine my joys when through course of my travel research about Tibet, I found this possible experience of a lifetime right in my arms’ reach, rather in the road’s reach? The Everest Base Camp on Tibet side is called the North base camp and one can be dropped right there via a smooth road that leads right to the camp. To reach the South Base camp on Nepal side on the other hand is an arduous 2 week trek through the Himalayan range. From the north base camp, one can view the majestic and mighty Everest (known as Mt. Qomolongma in Tibet) from the closest possible quarters.
The drive and stay at EBC was highlight of my week long exploit in Tibet. After 3 wonderful days in Lhasa, we spent 2 nights in Shigatse. From there we headed to Rongbuk via Tingri. Rongbuk is the closest town to EBC and has one the oldest monasteries in Tibet. The roads to EBC from were smooth and picturesque.On the way there is a Everest view point from where one can see the full Himalayan range with highest peaks – Mt Everest, Cho Oyo, Makalu and Lhotse. From Rongbuk, one can drive for 10 mins or trek for 1.5 hrs to reach EBC. Since the sun was setting upon our arrival in Rongbuk, we quickly headed over by road to EBC to view the glorious Mt. Everest. Two hours and 1000 pics later of sunset over Everest, we returned to our guesthouse in Rongbuk due to the bone chilling cold. We did return to EBC the next day morning before the dawn of light to bask in the majestic presence of Everest for the one last time. The bone chilling and mind numbing cold were well worth it to not give up the opportunity at all.
It was a rewarding experience to observe Mt. Everest. The sky was clear luckily for us and I could also observe the setting sun causing the tip of the Everest to look ablaze, the clouds adding to the drama. It is here that one can feel the insignificance and fragilities of human life in face of nature that stands tall, come what may. I couldn’t even bear the cold at the base camp, I couldn’t help but wonder what then makes men and women to think about summiting the Everest, risking their life to nature’s plays? What makes them want to surmount the unsurmountable when one in 10 successful climbs to the summit ends in death. George Mallory summed it up in his book, Climbing Everest – “People ask me, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is of no use.’ There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever….We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron…If you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life.”
The joy for me was to observe the Everest, albeit from a distance.