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Day 62: Rongbuk to Everest Base Camp

Michael Palin - HimalayaOnly later did I learn that Everest might have been conquered 29 years earlier, when George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappeared into a cloud close to the summit and were never seen again.

As the years went by, this heroic failure came to fascinate me more than Hillary and Tenzing's success. The fact that Mallory and Irvine left from a base camp almost exactly where we are now and lost their lives on the face of the mountain I can see so clearly ahead of me makes this a very special place, somewhere that has been in my imagination for so long.

Lunch completed, the yaks are loaded up, the tents struck and we begin the walk up to the glacier.

The warmth of the sun and the gentle tinkle of yak bells makes up for the grimly lunar landscape of grey stones and boulders. The herders seem in no hurry, whistling every now and then to keep the yaks together and occasionally singing as we plod slowly upwards. As the afternoon wears on, and the snowdrifts become less avoidable, it becomes increasingly obvious that the requirements of filming are slowing us down and we shall not reach the glacier before the light goes. We've also lost Basil and John Pritchard, both of whom seemed fine at lunch but, unable to cope with the increased altitude, have had to turn back.
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  • 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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