Formed by Everest’s Rongphu Glacier (絨布冰川), the Rongphu Valley offers us a designated natural approach to the majestic Mount Everest from its north side. The valley stretches from Rongphu Monastery (རྫ་རོང་ཕུ་དགོན་ 絨布寺) in the north to Mount Everest in the south. In front of Rongphu Glacier sits the base camp for professional climbers. Somewhere between the climber’s base camp and Rongphu Monastery lies the Tent Village catered for the rest of the visitors. At the terminus of Zhufeng Road (Mount Everest Road), the Tent Village is the closest spot to Mount Everest accessible by vehicle.
Thanks to Google Maps, we can now obtain a clear three dimensional birdeye’s view of the Tent City of Everest Base Camp and Mount Everest.
Slightly after 6pm, we had finally entered the Tent Village of Everest Base Camp. The first impression was like arriving at a busy parking lot in a valley.
Crafted by the Rongphu Glacier (絨布冰川), the base camp is flanked by peculiar rock cliffs towering up the sky.
Our driver Sangzhu parked the car and led us into Tent 21. Apparently all tents were pretty much identical with similar price per bed.
Inside Tent 21, there were about 8 bed spaces in a common dorm setting, a shelf of food and drinks, a stove, a few tables and a counter selling tourist souvenir. The owner also stayed with us in the tent.
In the middle of the Tent Village, there was the world’s highest post office where a few tourists were waiting for the postman’s return. Apparently the post office doesn’t sell postal stamps there but can mail out postcards if a postal stamp is already attached.
Behind the Tent City, we could see Mount Everest emerging from the fast moving clouds. Perhaps the time was too late, the environmental friendly shuttle bus between the Tent Village and the climber’s base camp was not running when we were there. We followed other tourists to walk along the rocky path towards the mountain, and reach a stone plaque after 15 minute’s walk.
The rewarding moment had finally arrived as the clouds began to thin out. The tallest mountain on Earth was right in front of us. At 8848m the summit of Mount Everest was still over 3600m above us, despite we had reached 5200m above sea level.
Our rewarding minutes ticked by as the sun began to set. Everywhere was getting dark quickly except the snow-capped Everest that was tall enough to receive the day’s last bit of sunlight.
At 8pm just before sunset, Mount Everest stood silently under the yellow spotlight of the setting sun. Looking at the shear beauty of the snow-capped summit, recalling all the past expedition stories and absorbing the legendary aura and spiritual power of the Everest, it was truly magical.
It was time for us to retreat into the tent and shook off the cold. We had a simple meal of instant cup noodles and canned sardines.
At 9pm, the boy of the owner was already sleeping soundly in bed under thick comfortable blankets.