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Everest 2003: Ben Clark
Dispatch 10 & 11


Dispatch 10 April 13, 2003: 16,400’ Base-camp

This message has been sent 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 mountains.

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, 16,400’ Base-camp

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

Dispatches

 





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