Episode 009: Tingri Office and Day Spa

“American Prayer Flags”. Well, we’re now in the shadow of Mount Everest, in the little town of Tingri, Tibet. This place is around 14,000 feet and a popular spot for climbers to start getting used to the altitude. We’re staying in a little hotel right off of “Main St.” and since there are so few trees around, the building is mostly made out of mud. The walls all seem to be several feet thick and our rooms are decorated with wall coverings that can only be described as hot pink floral-print sheets. My head has begun to pound from the altitude and I have to admit I’m a little foggy. Of course, all of the doorways are around 5 feet tall and every time I walk through one I hit square in my forehead and it’s leaving a welt. This is not helping! Tingri has obviously evolved to serve the needs of climbers with the turnoff for Everest Base Camp just a few kilometers down the road. Unfortunately, it appears that too many people stop through here and the town can’t quite keep up with it all. I don’t want to seem negative or spoiled, I’m a guest in this country, but Tingri is filthy. It’s a very rough place to spend a couple of days and there’s just this pervasive feeling of depression hanging over me. In fact, the first night we were here Ben, Major and I were sitting in our room talking when I suddenly burst out into gigantic, wailing sobs. I cried for a good 10 minutes thinking about how far away from home we were. How far away from my wife, Heidi, I was. The funny thing is, that our Sherpa crew of Lhawang, Pasang, Pempa and Boca only just spent one night here. Early the next morning they packed up the truck and headed on to base camp leaving patient Dawa to stay with us. They knew better than hang around in Tingri! Ugh, I can’t wait to get out of here and get up to base camp myself. I don’t want to be inside any longer. Major feels the same way even though he’s not feeling too well. He looks ill. Hopefully he’s just homesick, too.

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 16:26

Dispatch 9, April 12, 2003 14000’ Tingri, Tibet
Our first night at high altitude, 14,000’, in Tingri, Tibet is over. We are resting today and acclimatizing. Tingri is a small village and the last outpost where we are stay before reaching the base of the mountain and beginning the climb.
We are staying in Tingri for two nights to allow our bodies to adjust to the altitude.
The rule of thumb is that once you reach altitudes above 10-12,000’, to acclimatize, you should average about a thousand feet a day of elevation gain. This way when we arrive at 16,400’ base-camp we will be acclimated to the thinner air of Tingri, but will still take a couple of days to rest before ascending to a higher altitude to allow us to adjust to the 2000’ elevation gain of base-camp.
This is why Everest can take up to 50 days to climb. You need one day of acclimatization for each 1000’ of elevation gain, you need a minimum of 29 days for Everest.
We leave tomorrow morning for 16,400 base-camp where we will live for 40-50 days. Although the view here is rewarding, we look forward to closer ones ahead. This is our last day in “civilization”. We are ready for the wilderness!

Ben Clark