Mt. Everest, known as Chomolangma in Tibetan, is the highest mountain on earth at 8848m (29,023ft). Everest has base camps on both the Tibet and Nepal sides. The Tibet side base camp sits at 5200m (17,058ft). During the winter months, the views of Everest and the Himalaya are at their best as the skies are usually bright and clear. Rongbhu Monastery (pictured above) is the highest monastery in the world at 5000m. Everest base camp sits 8km to the south and dominates the background of Rongbhu.
Getting to Everest is easy from Lhasa. There are numerous travel agencies in Lhasa that can arrange a 5 to 8 day trip to Everest. If you are traveling with a group of friends it is possible to take a 7 day trip to Everest and back to Lhasa for as little as $120 per person. Most of the way to Everest is along the Friendship Highway...a highway that connects Lhasa with Kathmandu, Nepal. About 240km (150 miles) before the Nepal border you turn off the Friendship Highway and head south to base camp. The turnoff to Everest is 6km past the small town of Shegar. Many people going to Everest straight from Lhasa choose to stay the night here and then head up to the mountain first thing the next morning. From the turnoff, it is 99km to base camp. On the way to base camp you cross over Pang La, a mountain pass sitting at 5120m (16,795ft). From Pang La (pictured below) you get an amazing view of the Himalaya. There are 14 mountains in the world above 8000m (26,242ft) and you can see 4 of them from this pass (Everest, Makalu, Lhotse and Cho Oyu). Coming down from Pang La you reach the small village of Tashi Dzom. There is a small guesthouse there that we have stayed at a few times called the Chomolangma Benpa Guesthouse. It is a comfortable guesthouse run by a friendly Tibetan family, but can be very cold in the winter.
At Everest Base Camp, there is a small hill that is covered in prayer flags. On top of the hill there is a sign that says you are at Chomolangma Base Camp at an elevation of 5200m. There are plenty of places to do some hiking, but you will need additional permits to go to any of the advanced camps. Hiking at 5200m (17,058ft) takes a lot out of you so only those who are fully acclimatized and used to high altitude hiking should attempt to go any higher.There is a memorial area at base camp for those who have died trying to climb it. Most of the memorials are small piles of rocks with a small headstone with the persons name written on it. Many of the memorials are adorned with Tibetan prayer flags.
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