Lhasa to Kathmandu, 5/31, Cycling Day 11: Rongbuk: The worlds highest Monastery

Today’s distance was only 22 miles, and we only climbed 2000’; however, the road was dirt, rocks, and washboard.  We finished at the Rongbuk Monastary, which is at 16,400’.  We make camp here, so this will be our highest nigh sleeping on the trip. This campsite puts us 5 miles and 300 feet below Everest Base Camp.

Yak’s laden with gear heading to Everest Base Camp

The weather today was perfect, except when we were about 4 miles from camp, and we faced the legendary wind off Mt. Everest.  The ride was more than rewarded by our view of Everest from the campsite.  The mountain is often covered in clouds, and the group that was here in April were unfortunately, faced with an obscured Everest after that grueling ride. For us, the mountain was right in front of us in all its spectacular glory.  It’s truly an amazing sight.

Everest at sunset.

The camp however, is not great.  The wind coming down the valley from Everest collects speed and cold, and by the time it reaches us, it’s a steady 40+ mph that’s cold and relentless.  When outside, a down jacket is required even though the sun is painfully intense and harsh at 16,400’.  Going into the tent is no relief because the solar gain is collected inside the tent, which makes it at least 90 degrees or more inside.    Bake inside, freeze outside.  The only place of moderate temperature is the dining tent, which is where I write this.

Our camp, with spectacular views of Everest.

The Ronbuk Monastary sits behind our campsite.  It’s the highest monastery in the world, and is very much a working monastery.  These are some very dedicated monks.

A monk pouring hot water on the floor to then broom it clean. Their sleeping cots line the room.

After dinner several of us went to the restaurant to have a beer in the only such place that can claim to have a view of Mt. Everest.   It was my highest beer, at 16,400’.   Lhasa beer comes in large sizes, about the equivalent of two normal bottles.  We split one between the three of us.  Two small glasses of beer was plenty.  The room was heated with Yak Dung, so that smell mixed with clouds of cigarette smoke was almost too much to take after a while, so we braved our way back to the tents.

Everest at sunrise

~ by Robert on June 8, 2011.

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