Below is the latest email from ex Cadet Ian rogers on his trip to the Himalayas:
Geetings from Lhasa!
Well, life here at 3,600m/12,000ft was pretty bleak for the first night and day. The big gain in altitude really took it’s toll on me in particular, but today (5th May) I have felt much better. On the whole I seem to have been suffering all round early on – I’ve had a stinking cough and cold and I somehow managed to bruise a couple of my ribs when I slipped and bashed my chest on the armrest to my seat during the flight to Kathmandu! It’s been pretty painful but hopefully I should be ok by the time we reach Base Camp.
Lhasa is very much a city of contrasts – the new of the Chinese and the old of Tibet. To be fair the Chinese have done a good job of developing the city and it’s a very relaxed and pleasant place to be. I think we all expected there to be a much more visible Chinese military presence but the People’s Liberation Army is all but absent and the Police are few and far between. Mind you, that’s not to say they’re not around. The city is ringed with army outposts and there is a barracks across the road from where songs of the Revolution are sung with gusto every morning by the soldiers! The city is now unmistakenly Chinese yet the Tibetan influence is very strong and it still the Tibetan culture that leaves it’s mark indelibly on the mind. The Potala Palace, home to the Dalai Lama through the centuries, is a powerful and magnificent reminder of Tibet’s heritage – it is truly one of the wonders of the world. I think all of our group were affected in some way having been inside the Potala. It is also an incredibly humbling experience to join the hundreds of Tibetan pilgrims on the Barkhor circuit of the Jokhang Temple, the holiest site in Tibet. It is a very intense and emotional place to be.
Kathmandu, on the other hand, was a world away and an entirely different type of culture. However, it was no less humbling! The poverty is almost indescribable, yet everyone seems happy and friendly despite their circumstances. It is a smog-bound, sprawling shambols of a city yet an exciting, intoxiting place to find yourself. It’s a mad mad world and my rickshaw journey through the backstreets of Kathmandu is something I will never forget!
The group is really gelling well – It’s a great mix (there’s 13 of us altogether) and we’re all looking forweard to the next stage of the journey. Tomorrow we head off onto the Tibetan plateau in a convoy of Toyota Lancruiser 4x4s and an 8-hour journey to Shigatse, Tibet’s second city. This is were the going starts to get tough!
The news from Everest is that heavy snow has pretty much left everybody hunkered down at Base Camp. On the southern side a massive avalanche wiped out Camp 1 in the Western Cwm and totally buried about 60 tents! Thankfully there were few climbers about at the time and nobody was killed, although several were injured.
Well, I had better go. I will try and update you as soon as circumstances permit, but communications here on in aren’t the best in the world!!
Take care, hope you’re all well,