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Himalaya

Day 61: Rongbuk

Chomolungma, Tibet 
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Chomolungma, 'Goddess Mother of The Earth'. The best name westerners could come up with for the world’s highest mountain was Everest. The north face was climbed by a Chinese expedition in 1960 (seven years after Hilary and Tensing first conquered the peak).
Michael Palin - HimalayaLast night was desperately uncomfortable. A fierce wind blew, occasionally gusting with such ferocity that I feared it might tear the windows out. I lay awake, mouth dry despite regular swigs of water, listening to the village dogs fighting and detritus in the yard being flung about by the wind. As soon as I drifted off to sleep my breathing slowed and within moments I was wide awake, gasping for breath. I need the sleep so much, but I find myself fighting it, forcing myself to stay awake and breathe slow and deep.

The latrine is almost subhuman. It's hard enough to aim through a hole reduced to a slit by the calcified accretions of many previous visitors, without at the same time having to flash a torch to warn other guests and extract thin sheets of Boots travel tissue in a freezing, force 8 gale. Many years ago, encountering similarly appalling conditions in a boat on Lake Tanganyika, I took Imodium to prevent me having to go to the toilet ever again. As I squat in this howling tempest three miles up in the sky, I think cyanide might be the better option.

One advantage of this fierce wind is that when daylight comes it is clear and pristine. The summit of Everest trails a plume of spindrift, blown off the mountain by winds which, at that height, must be in excess of 100 miles an hour. The rest of the mountain, including the long, flanking shoulders below the arrow-head peak, is crystal clear.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 61: Rongbuk
  • Country/sea: Tibet
  • Place: Rongbuk
  • Book page no: 146

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RELATED LINKS

  • Health and Hygiene
  • Day 12 
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day 27 
  • Full Circle
  • Day 2 
  • Pole to Pole

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