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Himalaya

Day 62: Rongbuk to Everest Base Camp

Michael Palin - HimalayaWe carry on for as long as we can, past valley walls hung with rocks eroded into wonderful sculptural shapes: pinnacles of mud with enormous boulders poised on top of them and Stonehenge-like slabs teetering on the edge of mud cliffs. At just over 18,000 feet (5480 m), I get as close to Everest as I think I ever shall. A moment of regret as we turn back. The ribbed stone pyramid above looks daunting but beckoning at the same time. I can see why it makes people do crazy things. In the 1930s a man called Maurice Wilson planned to crash-land a plane on the side of Everest and climb on up to the summit. In 1980 Reinhold Messner made a successful ascent of the North Face, on his own, there and back, in four days, without oxygen.

As I take one last look, I put myself, as I have done so many times in the past, in Mallory and Irvine's stout walking boots and tweed jackets and feel what it must have been like for them to stand here 80 years ago, knowing that only two miles separated them from the top of the world.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 62: Rongbuk to Everest Base Camp
  • Country/sea: Tibet
  • Place: Everest Base Camp
  • Book page no: 149

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