December 3, 2019
Tibetan autumn: the world’s highest (non-volcano) mountain.
On our Tibetan adventure – onward; and today, our heads turned categorically – upward! Upward to one of my Top-100 Most Beautiful Places on the Planet, which happens to be the highest place on the planet: Sagarmartha, aka Chomolungma, aka Zhumulangma, aka Mount Everest! Oh my giant! Here she is, from the northern (Chinese) side, through a good long-distance lens (photos – DZ) ->
A little further, at dawn:
Further still – at sundown:
So, Everest is the tallest mountain in the world; everyone knows that, right? Thing is…
…It actually depends on how you calculate highest/tallest. Furthest above sea level? Furthest from the center of the earth? Or the highest peak of a mountain from its base? If we use ‘furthest from the center of the earth’, the highest point on the planet is Chimborazo in Ecuador. Its peak is a full 3.5km (!) further from the center of the earth than Everest. And if we take the ‘world’s highest mountain’ as the tallest mountain from its base to its peak, then the Hawaiian Mauna Kea wins: above sea level it clocks in at 4205 meters, but there are a further four to five kilometers of it under the ocean! That makes its total height some 10 kilometers! Locals in Hawaii even state it really is 17km high (!), since the weight of the volcano pushed the tectonic plate under it down by ~7km! More details – here.
But the true champ really is – as we all know – Mount Everest! It’s peak is the highest point in the world; the air pressure up there is the lowest on the planet; and from the center of the earth it is – after all – the highest mountain. It’s not a volcano ).
And that’s where we were headed – to Everest. Not up it – that is a feat requiring months of training; but at least to see it from down below. The first sign we were getting close to it was when we passed through these here gates – into Qomolangma National Nature Preserve (Qomolangma being the Tibetan name for Mount Everest).
That was the first gate; there’ll be more to come. Meanwhile we’re taking this here beaut-route:
Another gate; base camp – this way…
We had our documents checked (as we were used to by now), and then had a 90km drive ahead of us – to the protected territory, where we’d have to transfer to local busses to take us the last 20km to the base camp. Like this.
Here’s the mountain pass where we caught our first glimpse of none other than Mount Everest!
The colors change every minute!
One thing stays lit up by the sun after everything else is already in the shade – Mount Everest, of course ).
Here some of DZ’s kit taking a time-lapse vid:
And here’s the resulting time-lapse:
Duly hypnotized, no one was there to wake us from our hypnotic state – we were well and truly entranced! Actually, eventually our guide did manage to bring us round – with his almost hysterical exhortations for us to get going as it would soon be dark…
Sundown shade from the mountains!
It’s getting brighter and brighter!…
I’ll hand the reins over to DZ for the photos of Everest…
boris_prok informs us that besides Everest there are another three 8000m+ mountains here! And here they all are ->
And if you have a lens powerful enough – you can get a pic of the fifth 8000er – Shishapangma (8027m):
The serpentine road is almost as impressive! ->
We arrive. Er, and find out we’ll be staying the night in these here tents/huts ) ->
Actually, once inside – perfectly fine: cozy, warm, clean.
Though very tired after such a long day, we simply had to go walkabout up here – so much closer than usual to the stars…
We were up at the crack of dawn – and it was out with the cameras again for the extraordinarily beautiful daybreak…
Here’s us lot – waiting for the first rays of sun…
The eastern slopes, as can be expected – start to brighten…
Direct sunlight – yes!
Other mountaintops also light up!
Good morning Everest!
The view seizes you, and doesn’t let go!
The green bears love the morning view too!
But we need to get back to the camp and plan our day…
Thus, the second thing we were to see that day was Rongbuk Monastery – the highest (Buddhist) monastery in the world.
The monastery is small, so doesn’t take long to give a full inspection. There’s not much to say about the place either, but – you are allowed to take photos!…
At the entrance, in addition to fire extinguishers – oxygen apparatus!
Modest inner square…
But with a view of Everest!
North Base Camp. This is where we stayed the night:
This is where climbs to the stop start out. It’s eight kilometers to the south of Everest, at the foot of Rongbuk Glacier. I’d love to come back here and simply walk around for a day or two. But climbing Everest? No thank you; not for me. I’m a volcano man, don’t forget ).
Unsold trinkets, and oxygen cylinders – frozen to the table! ->
And that’s all from Everest folks!
The rest of the photos from Tibet are here.