Dispatch 10 April 13, 2003:
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from 16,400’. We are now at our home on the Rongbuk glacier. The drive today
was spiritually and physically the most moving leg of the journey.
Waking for the second morning
in a tiny room draped with pink cloth, I batted my eyes slowly to the window.
The sun was up and I could already smell the burning embers of dung fuel
wafting towards the door. It was not hard to part from Tingri, the last 36
hours have centered on avoiding the harsh smell. We were now more than ready
to experience the last leg to our new home.
Driving today was an amazing
experience. It is surreal weaving up and down swithbacks in an 80’s Toyota
LandCruiser at altitudes of 14,000’ underneath the majestic peaks of the
Himalayas. We wear sunglasses everyday to filter the intense sunlight that is
reflected by the fluted ridges and icy flanks. The beauty of these peaks is so
enveloping that a filter only stimulates the eye to look longer, deeper into
the heart of the youngest landscape on Earth and the highest of the world’s
We experienced more than
scenery today. Driving afforded several opportunities to stop and “smell the
roses” if you will. One stop saw us tailing goat herders, they were children
probably not much older than six or seven. I gave them some granola bars for
letting us get close enough to pet their goats.
Late afternoon arrived and we
visited the last village we would see before settling in to our new home. We
visited the Rongbuk monestary, 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
Sherpas 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 16,400’. This
will be home for about 50 days. We will organize and begin making it livable
in the days to come. Ben
Dispatch 11, April 14,
Today was our first full day
in front of the pyramid shaped North Face of 29,035’ Mount Everest. We packed
and organized the gear and food that will be making it’s way via a yak train
to 21,000’ in the next two days. There are over 350 other people from China,
New Zealand, Russia, Romania, Tibet, Nepal, Europe, North America, and South
America that are also preparing for their ascents.
It was a crystal clear
morning today. Everest lit up the sky like a huge temple of bright white light
as whisps of snow over a half mile long trailed from her summit like a
fleeting horses mane. It is a reverent sight to stand in front of the world’s
greatest magnitude of anything but Mount Everest isn’t just the world’s
highest. To the Sherpa and Tibetan people that surround us she is Chomolungma,
Mother Goddess of the Earth. It is so important to the people who know her
summit that we must sleep with our feet pointed away from the mountain to
avoid any disrespect. To sit in front of the mountain, to hear the jet stream
that rips across the great North face, this is nature at it’s most powerful.
This is where humans must be their most humble.
Keep Dreaming, Ben Clark