In November of last year, I fulfilled a lifelong dream to trek Tibet and Nepal. The highlight of my visit to Tibet was spending the night at Everest Base Camp – I remember the whole day like it was yesterday. My guide & I awoke to catch the spectacular sunrise at Renjo La pass (17,600 feet). I positioned my camera & tripod to catch the sunrise over the towering Himalayan peaks (including Everest 29,028’, Lhotse 27,890’, Makalu 27,805’, and Cho Oyu 26,864’). The shooting point was fabulous – a magnificent, open vista to forever.
Despite my layered expedition gear, I was exceptionally cold in the pre-dawn wind (especially my fingers, which were continually exposed to the elements during lens changes etc). Following an unforgettable sunrise, we drove down the valley to Everest Base Camp.
Passing through 3 Chinese checkpoints, we finally arrived at Rongbuk Monastery. This mountain retreat is the highest monastery on the earth, with an altitude of 17,000 feet. After some much needed butter team (in a dung-heated room), we continued another 8km to base camp. We arrived to find ourselves completely alone…and decided to press ahead, climbing a small promontory that overlooks the vast plane that lies before Everest. This exposed perch is filled with colorful Tibetan prayer flags and a surprise visitor….a dog, lying fast asleep on the comfortable mound of prayer flags. He opened one eye to check us out and then fell back asleep. We sat there with him for a long, long time. Finally, it was time to retreat to Rongbuk for the evening. We wandered about the monastery for couple of hours, mainly drinking tea with the nuns. An hour before sunset, I hiked out onto a local moraine and set up to shoot the sunset. Up until that point, the sun had kept us reasonably warm…but as soon as the sun began to set, the shadow of the mountains passed over me and the temperature plummeted. Two hours later, I had taken 300 pictures but was in bad shape. I could barely move my hands as I stumbled into the monastery’s main hall.
After warming up a bit over the fire & drinking some blissfully hot tea, I crawled into my sub-zero sleeping bag (in full gear) and spent night shivering and slightly delirious (18,000 feet can do that to you). I can’t tell you how happy I was to see the sun in the morning.
More photos here.