At the foot of the giant
In 1921 the kangshung face appeared insurmountable and they left it for"Other men, less wise".But they loved the valley beneath the face and often returned for a spot of r during the unsuccessful sieges of the north face in the 1920s and 1930s.
Unlike the bleak, stony wastes north of everest, this eastern approach the kama valley is softened by warm, moist air wafting up from nepal.It is green and fecund, its lower gorges filled with dense forest, its http://zone.aimoo.com/blog/lifew
upper meadows lush with alpine flowers.It is a place of transcendent beauty and, long before westerners arrived with their dreams of conquest, tibetan buddhists had designated the valley a beyul a sacred landscape, a holy sanctuary.
We almost failed to get into that sanctuary in 1988.We arrived early, in march, and winter snow still blocked the 18, 000ft pass, the langma la, which gives access to the kama valley.The yaks the highaltitude cattle that are the staple of the tibetan agricultural economy couldn't cope with the drifts.In the end we hired 100 human porters and stamped a trail for them.Crossing the langma la became an everest in its own right.
When i returned 10 years later, trekking to the kangshung base camp in the regular autumn season, we had none of those problems.We also approached over the slightly lower pass of the shao la, making the trek a more satisfying circuit, finishing with the langma la as the grand climax.
The trek starts in the kharta valley, where the road ends at a hamlet called yuba.The footpath winds through barley fields fringed by himalayan birch.It is quite a gentle, domestic landscape, with little hint that you are barely 30 miles from the world's highest mountain.And it stays that way for the first two days, as you head up a side valley.It feels almost scottish.
The path climbs gradually, then steepens on the third day, zigzagging through boulder fields to the first big pass:The shao la.The view is fine, but at this stage you still can't see everest.Unlike the fullfrontal, instant revelation of the langma la, this oblique approach allows the charms of the kama valley to be revealed gradually.
In 1998 all that was academic:We crossed the shao la in thick mist and drizzle was falling as we descended into the valley.But on day five we woke to sunshine.The trek started with a short climb though a cedar wood.For the rest of the day we ambled gently, high above the kama river.The trail wound through carpets of blue gentians, gaultheria shrubs laden with berries of deepest lapis lazuli, autumn rhubarb leaves glowing amber among granite boulders.
The detail was enchanting, but so was the big picture the great gash of the gorge below and the ever spikier summits above.Then we rounded a corner and https://qqw0715sa.shutterfly.com/
there it was, still 18 miles ahead but looking gigantic, a gleaming curtain of ice blocking the head of the valley:Everest's kangshung face.
Nostalgia made me doubly susceptible, but it did seem to be one of the grandest shows on earth.Late that afternoon, coming across a cluster of stone cairns silhouetted against braided silver ribbons of river pouring down from the kangshung glacier, you could see why the tibetans attributed sacred power to this landscape.
The day ended with a short, sharp descent to another meadow campsite.Our guide, sherpa rinzin, and his nepalese staff already had the tents up and were busy cooking a threecourse dinner.The yaks were https://groups.diigo.com/group/lifewlifew/
roaming the hillside, foraging one morning my kit bag was ripped open by a tossing horn.
On day six everest was out of sight again, its place taken by chomolonzo a closer mountain and, it has to be said, a more impressive piece of architecture a soaring masterpiece in granite and ice.It dominated the view as we contoured beside the kangshung glacier, arriving that afternoon at a camping ground called pethang ringmo, where iglooshaped stone huts are used to store dry yak dung for the herders' fires.
It was beside a herder's fire at a holy lake near here that tenzing norgay, one of the first two men with sir edmund hillary to climb everest, was born in 1914.As a boy he looked up at the mountain from these meadows, little realising that in 1953 he would be at its summit.
Looking up at that suMMit froM pethang ringMo, it was hard to believe that it really was the highest point on earth:ChoMolonzo was still stealing the show.So, the next day, we persuaded the tibetans to take their yaks one stage farther up the valley, to My old 1988 base caMp.Up here, we could see the whole sweep of the kangshung http://lifew.myblog.de
face, three Miles high and five Miles wide a gigantic"M"With everest forming the righthand point and lhotse, the world's fourthhighest peak, the left.Farther left still, the world's fifthhighest mountain, makalu, now towered over chomolonzo.
At dawn the grass was crunchy with frost, the valley deep in blue shadow.Then the first rays touched the summit of everest, a glittering wisp of windblown crystals hinting at the deathly cold nearly 13, 200 feet above us.The light spread rapidly, rushing downward, until the entire snow wall the whole kangshung face glowed golden pink, before brightening to pure whiteness.
We spent a day exploring the glacier before heading for home, first retracing our steps back east, then heading up another side valley for the langma la.Ten years earlier, returning from the summit, emaciated and exhausted, shuffling on frostbitten feet, i had found it a weary struggle, alleviated only by taking turns with my two american colleagues on a stretcher.
But it had also been a joyful struggle a return to life, heralded by the first pale yellow and pink rhododendron blooms.This time it was autumn and i http://www.imonline.nl/get_page.php?username=lifew&page=1
was here just to trek, strong and fit, with a spring in my stride, simply enjoying this glorious landscape.
Our final camp before leaving the kama valley was beside a lake called shurima, which means lama's throne.As the light changed the lake glowed cobalt, turquoise and ultramarine a precious stone set among slopes of autumnal amber and yellow.To the south and west the everest cirque filled the horizon.You could understand why the lamas had declared the place sacred and why, when we finally crossed the langma la in the morning, each of the tibetans left a prayer, or a picture, or some other memento on the shrine that marks the crossing from one valley to another.
Even after more than two weeks' acclimatisation, i felt slightly puffed on that final pass.There is no escaping the thinness of the air at 18, 000 feet, but on this trek the terrain is never too arduous.The ascents and descents are generally quite gradual and, apart from one landslide, which has to be crossed near the snout of the kangshung glacier, there are no precarious scree slopes.For much of the way the path contours or undulates, allowing you to move with a relaxed stride, while the yaks do all the hard work of loadcarrying from camp to camp.Like the hindu and buddhist pilgrims' parikrama, this trek is a clockwise journey a circuit which has a nice rhythm to it and which happens to take you through some of the most sublime scenery on earth.