Episode 011: Welcome to Base Camp
Dumbstruck by Everest. I was not prepared for how awe-inspiring the last few kilometers of driving would be. As we headed up the Rongbuk Valley all you could do was look up at the massive North Face of Everest. This mountain dominates the view but we did not overlook the human-scale attributes of the valley. We pulled over on the side of the road just outside the Rongbuk Monastery and took in some more views of Everest framed within some Tibetan architecture. My head was exploding as we then walked up a small hillside to an even smaller building at it’s top. Beneath the building was a cave where a manifestation of Buddha set foot a millennia ago. It’s hard to explain, but you feel something strong when visiting these places. You feel that the mountains are spiritual and it envelopes you. It cuts through the pain and shortness of breath. I whish I could put it into words. Hopefully I will be able to, but not yet.
After leaving the grotto, we headed up the last few turns in the road and entered a huge, mile wide glacial moraine. This is Base Camp and our home for the next 50 or so days. Everything was set up for us and all we had to do was walk into our big Comm’s tent and have some tea. Later on, we’ll start to unpack and organize the gear. There’s so much of it! It’s good to be here and not have to drive any more. Major’s condition seems to be getting worse. Hopefully he can lay low for a few days now that we’re here.
Total Running Time: 21:21
Dispatch 10B April 13, 2003: Base Camp
Late afternoon arrived and we visited the last village we would see before settling in to our new home. We visited the Rongbuk monastery, named after the village, and then visited a very holy space of Buddhist culture. Underground and in a cavern no taller than 5’ we visited the place of meditation where Buddha once sat over 1200 years ago. It was a tender cultural exchange to receive from the drivers and Sherpa who were with us. Their eyes lit with enthusiasm and genuine interest in transcribing the history and importance of this space to us. Even through broken English and dim lighting we left the space knowing more of the intricate spirit of the men we now call friends.
Twenty minutes later, we arrived at base-camp. I’m just going to take it in for a bit, it is an overwhelming sense of personal satisfaction to know I am now at 17,000’. This will be home for about 50 days. We will organize and begin making it livable in the days to come.