Wow, Everest, need I say more? The Tibetans call her Qomolongma (mother of the earth or holy mother). Even during the best season, she is often covered in clouds, so many visitors never get a glimpse of her. Imagine our delight when after almost 5 months on the road, we drove over a ridge, and there rose the Himalayan range with Qomolongma in all of her glory. Sun shining down on us, prayer flags waving, we jumped up and down with delight taking photo after photo. So very lucky.
We realized how lucky when we arrived at the collection of yurts a couple of kilometers from base camp. The clouds were already obscuring the mountain, and it was getting cold. We boarded the shuttle to Base Camp (the point where you need to have a mountaineering expedition permit to continue) and by the time we got there, the mountain was gone. Only clouds. Still, it was Everest Base Camp! More jumping, photos, and shivering in the wind. Vicky and Adam added a rock inscribed with "Endeavour Overland" onto the mani stone pile, while Fran and I added a white rock symbolic of Christopher and Kyle, who are never far from our thoughts. Then with inclement weather on our heels, several of us headed back into camp on the shuttle. Despite headaches from the altitude (we were at about 5000 meters), I really enjoyed snuggling down in the yurt with several of my fellow truckmates, playing games, eating noodles and momos (dumplings) and drinking yak butter tea. The only thing I did NOT enjoy was the nasty communal bathrooms. Why do some Chinese have such difficulty making a nuisance?????