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Day 60: Tingri to Rongbuk

Tingri, Tibet 
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A circle dance takes shape in a village on the way to Everest Base camp. There’ll be much yodelling and foot-stamping, probably after we’ve gone.
Michael Palin - HimalayaWe move on, through desert scenery, with minimal vegetation but every kind of eye-catching rock formation: deep gullies, bluffs with soaring, scree-covered slopes, exposed synclines and anticlines, red and angry, as if freshly split from the cliffs around them. A brisk wind creates the only movement in this dead landscape, sending dust devils spiralling across the track in front of us.

A military checkpoint, beside a big, modern PLA (People's Liberation Army) barracks with a red-tiled roof, stands at the entrance to the Qomolangma National Park, and a metalled road, recently upgraded, leads us smoothly up to the next big pass, Pang La. This is the high point of our day's journey, in every respect. At the summit, a smooth, wide hill at 17,000 feet (5180 m), one of the finest views in the world is suddenly, almost abruptly, revealed. The full, majestic spread of the central Himalaya is laid out before us, like white-topped waves in a frozen ocean. It's an horizon full of giants: Cho Oyu, a huge massif that peaks at 26,928 feet (8210 m), Makalu 1 at 27,594 feet (8410 m), Lhotse 1 at 27,883 feet (8500 m) and the monumental pyramid of Everest, rising serenely above them all at 29,021 feet (8850 m).

The highest point of the earth's surface, which I am seeing today for the first time with my own eyes, is known to the Tibetans as Qomolangma (pronounced 'Chomolungma'), Goddess Mother of the Earth, to the Sherpas as Sagamartha and when the Imperial Survey of India first determined the mountain's precise height it was known on British maps as Peak XV. It was given the name Everest in 1865, in recognition of Sir George Everest, the man who pioneered the mapping of India. (To add to the confusion, what we call Everest should really be called Eev-rest, which was the way Sir George's name was pronounced.)
Tingri, Tibet 
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These folk get-togethers are an important time for matchmaking.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 60: Tingri to Rongbuk
  • Country/sea: Tibet
  • Place: Tingri
  • Book page no: 143

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  • Full Circle
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  • Pole to Pole