Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Everest base camp

Coincidences are always fun. For example, have you noticed how once you learn a new word you suddenly see it being used a number of times within a week! Something like that just happened to me with Mt. Everest. I hadn't really thought of Everest in a while, perhaps not since I read Into Thin Air many years ago. Then yesterday I read my friend Alon's blog post describing his recent trip to Tibet. It's a really nice and detailed account of their trip, including their 800 km detour to see Mt. Everest:

We started at 7am, and drove for 12 hours through multiple mountain passes, very rural areas of Tibet and a couple of other hurdles that I was advised not to blog about. At 7pm, we were standing at 5000m elevation, looking at Mount Everest and its sibling peaks (Makalu, Lohtse, and Cho Oyu). ... At 7pm we started a 300km drive back to Shigatse, the closest place with a reasonable hotel.

He did tell me about that-which-he-will-not-blog-about! It all sounds really exciting (and here's a picture they took with Everest in the background).

Now imagine my surprise when today's NY Times has an op-ed contribution by Michael Kodas on Mt. Everest! Those of you who have read Into Thin Air (or are mountaineering junkies like Ajit) know that it takes at least a hard week of trekking to get to Everest base camp on the Nepalese side. It's quite a different story on the Tibetan side:

... on the Chinese side almost all of the climbers have been arriving in vehicles for decades.

And within an hour of the base camp is:

A multistory hotel has been open for years now, ... with hot meals, cold beer, soft beds and a telescope aimed at the mountaintop.

And it's going to get even better... It seems the Chinese are building a:

...blacktop highway fenced with undulating guardrails...

running all the way to base camp to:

...ease the Olympic torch’s trip to the summit...

They're going to take the Olympic torch to the summit of Everest! I shouldn't be so surprised---it seems they've already done a dry run. In any case, read the rest of the article to see how Mt. Everest has become the:

...first arena, and profit center, of its Olympic Games.

1 comment:

Alon Halevy said...

Indeed, as of this week, the road we drove up to see the mountains is closed so they can pave it in time for the Olympic torch runners.

In fact, all of China is rushing towards the olympic deadline with very lofty goals ahead (e.g., everyone will know english, polution will be removed from beijing, etc).

In fact, I noticed during this visit in Beijing that all the waitresses started throwing in pithy comments in english as they served our food, some that were relevant, and others tha were not (e.g., have a good day, welcome to china),

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