After a rather cold night (-12ºC inside the tent) we got a glorious day with very bright skies. Ciprian and I went to explore the Rongbuk Glacier up to about 5400 m just before Yak Camp, which seems now more commonly referred to as Japanese Camp. We got a brilliant view on Everest and the flanking peaks. However we had to rush back for the puja ceremony. The ceremony turned into a jolly party with (too) much beer and whiskey for some of the sherpas. After lunch the day turned, due to the unusual warm weather, into a lazy Sunday afternoon.
This morning (Thursday) we left for EBC, at Tingri the roads end and I know now the real use of a 4WD… The 75 kn to EBC took about 3 h. We had a spectacular view on Cho Oyu (8200+m) which rose majestically at the horizon. At EBC, I was warm-heartily welcomed by Landuk, who was also the EBC chef in 2012 and he remembered my preference for coffee and fries… Since Namgya was early we have a fantastic site. At the end of the day the skies opened up and we could see our goal at some 16 km distance….
Today (Friday) Ciprian and I climbed with Nima the other climbing sherpa, a nearby mountain to acclimatise. We did very well as we passed all groups that had left before us and reached 5775 m as firsts. The winds are terribly strong. Last night it froze some 10 degrees inside our tent but today is much colder and this afternoon we had fresh snow.
We are very close to Everest base camp now. Hopefully we will reach it tomorrow. Today we went from Shigatse all the way to Tingri, only some 250 km but it took us more than 8 h. First we were stuck in a colonne of the Chinese army, some 50 trucks that drove slowly but would not let you pass. Then we got into the higher parts with high passes which don’t allow a very high speed. At the highest pass (5200 m) Ciprian and I decided to climb to the top of the mountain aligning the pass (~5380 m) to acclimatise which went quite smoothly. After that we had only to drove down. We got to a military check point which we believed to be the last before Tingri but in the next village there was another police check point. We had been speeding according to the officer since we arrived there 29 min too early. We had to wait these 29 min before we could go on.A little later we arrived in Tingri, we could see Cho Oyu on the way. We stay in the best lodge in town: the Ha Hoo hotel. The bed looks like half a dozen people have slept under the same sheets, there are no showers nor warm water. I wished I was already in base camp…
Yesterday we left Lhasa for Gyantse. Only 265 km but still taking us more than 7 h due to the many high passes we had to cross (between 4700 and 5100 m), the partially bad roads and the numerous police controls. The road is a tourist attraction due to its stunning sights.
At Kambala pass I gave in and hugged a Tibetan Mastiff dog whilst holding a goat kid.
In Gyantse we got into a dubious hotel and visited another Monastery (Pekor Chode, built in 1418) with a famous stupa. Since the stupa was over 4000 m we considered that climbing it would help acclimatise. This morning we moved further through the Tibetan heights to Xigaze, second largest city of Tibet. In Xigaze we needed to fetch our climbing permits at the regional police office. We had to wait for almost three hours since some form was missing (note: we got at least a dozen offial forms already, so the odds that something is filled out incorrectly gets higher by the day…) but finally I got a permit which allows one accompanying person i.e. Ciprian).
After late lunch in a nice local restaurant where I called Namgya by local (!) call. He told me that he expected to reach base camp tomorrow. The rest of the afternoon Ciprian and I spent walking up the hills on the prayer-drum lined path from the monastery to the castle. We are staying in probably the best hotel so far that features a huge concrete model of Everest.
We spent two days in Lhasa mainly sightseeing. Yesterday we visited the Potala palace, the residence of the Dalai Lama, which oldest parts date back to the 7th century. The enormous palace has about 2000 rooms, many chapels, zillions of Buddha statues and the tombs of most Dalai Lamas since the fifth (who is enshrined in 3772 kg of gold). Later in the afternoon we’ve strolled throug downtown Lhasa and during dinner we were surprised and entertained with the rehearsals of an authentic Tibetan musical ensemble.
Today we visited the largest monastery of Tibet that once hosted 10000 monks (now only 300). Ciprian and myself, having seen enough Buddhas for our lifetime upset our Tibetan guide by climbing up to the highest painting on the cliffs (~4000 m high) and getting down at the other side of the valley which took us about one and a half hour. In the afternoon we spent time in the national museum and 3 (!) hours buying Chinese SIM cards but hopefully I’ll now be able to update this site the coming period when we will travel to base camp.
We got up early for our flight to Lhasa but upon arrival found out China Air 408 was 2 h delayed. After 2 h waiting in the extremely crowded waiting hall, we were told it would be another 2 h… However we got access to the Executive Lounge to get food. When the plane finally arrived, we had a smooth flight and arrived around 19 h (it’s 2 h 15 min later in Tibet), After multiple visa checks we were welcomed by the Chinese Guide who was waiting for us and after a ride of about an hour , and a couple of visa checks, arrived in our hotel downtown Lhasa.
Wednesday early morning Ciprian, the Romanian who will join us, arrived at Kathmandu airport. When I came back from breakfast, he and Namgya had just arrived in the Lobby. A local guide, Surieh, took us for a touristic tour in Kathmandu (Namgya carefully selected some places where I had not been before), such as Swayambhunath or Monkey Temple (not because they worship monkeys there – they actually do, but not in that complex – but bacause monkeys are crawling all over the sanctuaries) and the old royal square in the city centre, where we visited a couple of temples and the royal palace. Most interesting was probably the Kumari Ghar, where we actually saw the Royal Kumari when she appeared for a moment to watch the people gathered in the small inner court of the complex.
We had lunch at Kilroy’s, one of Kathmandu’s best restaurants in the middle of Thamel.
In the afternoon we bought supplies, mainly for Ciprian and in the evening Sonam Bhote joined (a cousin of Namgy who does the marketing for Grand Himalya) to have a welcome dinner in the Roadhouse Cafe.
This is the official page of the Dutch Everest Expedition 2015.
I will try to keep this page up-to-date during the expedition. At the start that should be doable as there is connectivity in Nepal and in Tibet as long as we are on the way to Base Camp. I expect to have connectivity whilst in Base Camp as well. However, beyond Base Camp it will be a challenge, but I may be able to provide updates by satellite phone.
Please, check back regularly for updates.
Note: The previous sites Dutch Everest 2012 can be found under “Seven Summits” in the menu…