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Leaving dingy Dingri, our vehicles dropped us at the village of Lungjang, where we would commence our 4-day trek to Everest Base Camp. Our group from the Nature Society of Singapore – Seng, Yi Lin, Peishan, Betty, Graeme, Juggi, Raymond, ET and myself – had spent the week sightseeing and acclimitasing in the cities of Tibet. Most were itching to exercise their trekking legs, and some asked why we were just spend half a day trekking on day one? 4 hours later, they would be asking when we would be stopping for the day. Altitude does have an effect on attitude.

We camped the first windy night next to a local “drokpa” (nomadic) camp, and the following night, near the village of Zomphu (4,720m), after crossing the Lamna La (5,200m pass).From Zomphu, the highest permanent settlement in the Everest region, we get the first glimpse of Everest and our adrenaline going. The trail descends gently down a moonscape of barren valley and hills. We encounter a couple of shepherds who demonstrated the power of their slingshots (do not mess with them because they can hurl a rock a few hundred metres with deadly accuracy).

Fish with altitude! The water was at most two feet deep.

We followed the drainage downstream and encountered some “high-altitude fish”; I had read about them and expected them to be small to survive the harsh environment. There were at least 2 species of fish and the bigger ones were about 50 cm long! Wonder how high-altitude fish taste? (Because we left them in the stream). The stream soon met in a confluence with the Dzakar Chu, which is the main river draining the Rongphu area. We examined the ruins of Chophuk, a cave hermitage built into the precipitous limestone cliffs. We soon did our second river-fording of the trek one could choose to get their feet wet, or tread on stones in the freezing waters. Today we felt like fish out of water, and we needed the help of our vehicles, in the last section, to get us to our destination Dza Rongphu monastery the grounds of which would be our camp for 3 nights.

Everest Basecamp in the distance, from another camp.

It took us three, dusty and windy hours to trek to EBC from Rongphu. Even then, it was a monumental effort to locate the Singapore camp, for there are at least 4 major campsites spread over the expansive Rongphu glacier, not in line-of-sight with one another. David, Beng Cheong, Gils and WTS were delighted to receive their first Singaporean visitors (Roz was on the mountain); all looked well and in high spirits. David entertained the group with the latest tales on both sides of Everest. Some of the group called home using one of widgets under WTS’s care. Beng Cheong was busy filming and photographing the group a welcome change of models? Gils looked the same as he did at sea level fit with a healthy appetite. The next day, we were back to trek beyond EBC, further up the glacier taking full advantage of our well-acclimatized bodies as well as visit the memorial of mountaineers who did not make it down the glacier over the years.

Everest Basecamp from the Rongbuk Glacier.

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