Why were we there? For the Paris Peace Forum, the annual event where folks from governments, business and other organizations come together to discuss and try and come up with ways to make the world better. And one of the hottest topics there, of course, was cybersecurity – and that’s why were extended a very enthusiastic invite. And since we support all kinds of initiatives throughout the world advocating international cooperation so as to create a digital world that’s secure against all cyber-badness, we sent our RSVP back practically tout de suite.
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):
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! ->
Today, a few words about Tibetan roads and what it’s like to drive on them.
The first thing I’ll say about them is that they’re of good quality. Mostly asphalted, in places concrete; main thing: no holes or cracks. The only problem: for some reason, whenever a road crosses a bridge – any bridge at all, be it over a river, a stream or even just some water pipes – there are always installed some speed bumps. And since there are a lot of bridges, you’re having to slow down to go over these speed bumps all too often. I’m all for safer – slower – driving, but out in the middle of nowhere? After a while we got used to them: before taking our next photo-masterpiece we’d look up ahead to check there were no upcoming bridges.
Apart from those pesky sleeping policemen, however – the road situation in the country: excellent; and that goes for minor roads as well as highways – even real remote minor roads 5000 meters above sea level well away from civilization.
Here’s the highway that runs from Lhasa to western Tibet: