Mt. Qomolangma is mysterious, holy, and a dream destination for many people. To hike the mountain, however, takes a lot of courage; the first challenge is overcoming one’s fear, then the physical challenge of being at the high altitude. After surviving all of this, the exhilaration and excitement you experience at the mountain peak is indescribable.
At the beginning of the journey, we headed west from Xigazê, passed Sa'gya County, Lhatse County, and Tingri County before reaching the Mt. Qomolangma tourist area. After a lot of construction work by the government, the road to the mountain is now all smooth asphalt, but still relatively narrow. The winding mountain road would make everyone want to buckle up. According to the local tour guide, there are 153 turns on the mountain road.
After the plains of Sa'gya County, we were on the way to Lhatse County, where we could see the tall peaks and deep valleys amidst a backdrop of blue skies and white clouds. Flying prayer flags were everywhere, and wild antelopes ambled leisurely near the river. Ready-for-harvesting highland barley, neat stacks of firewood and cow dung on the roofs of farm houses… Everything seemed photo-worthy.
The endless sights almost made us miss the fact that the altitude was rising fast. The distant snowy mountain peaks excited everyone. Before we knew it, we were inside Tingri County and at the entrance of the 5200-meter-high Mt. Gyatsola.
The first thing we saw was a banner reading “Welcome to Mt. Qomolangma”! As we traveled down Mt. Gyatsola, we would constantly see flashes of snowy peaks behind the clouds; sometimes bright, sometimes dim, they were always mesmerizing. After passing the entrance to the 5198-meter-high Mt. Jiawula, Mt. Qomolangma was finally before us.
As we looked out from the observation deck, the giant snowy mountains were like glowing jade under the white clouds; they were spectacular and awe-inspiring. There are only 14 snowy mountains over 8000 meters in the world, and five of them could be seen here. From left to right, they are: Makalu (8463 meters), Lhotse (8516 meters), Qomolangma (8844 meters), Cho Oyu (8201 meters), and Shishapangma (8021 meters).
As we continued from the entrance to Mt. Jiawula, the winding mountain roads were unavoidable. It’s only after I reached Dingri County that I didn’t feel dizzy and disoriented. Before we knew it, Mt. Qomolangma could be seen, it stood crisp and clear in front of us. Some say the mountain is often shrouded in heavy fog, and it is rare that you see the entire mountain. I was in disbelief, and asked the driver of the Jeep, is this Mt. Qomolangma? As soon as he answered yes, I started taking photos.
Next thing I knew, I was at the tallest monastery in the world, Rongbuk Monastery, which is a rare mixed-gender temple in the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
After even more photos, we reached the base camp of Mt. Qomolangma. The crowded parking lot, excited tourists, endless rows of tents, and the many vendors who peddled prayer beads and printed sutra scrolls made a rare festive sight.
We drove another four kilometers to the stone monument, finally, we were at the foot of Mt. Qomolangma, the place that has haunted our dreams for so long!
As we stood on the roof of the world and faced the blessed snowy peaks, words could not describe how we felt. The tinkling streams of melting snow reminded us of Rongbuk River, a place of wonder that has nourished the optimistic Tibetan people, fields of highland barley, and lush rapeseed flowers.