Newsletter 13 April 2003
Tibet - Lhasa - Hotel Himalaya (3/4/03)
This is our last night in Lhasa and the 1st and last opportunity prior to hitting the road to Xigatse tomorrow for me to get a dispatch off. So here's the news so far.
Arrival in Lhasa is our first step in acclimatisation and immediately brings home the serious impact and requirement to do it slowly. Resting pulse rates have jumped to 95 and breath rates are up by 1.5. Lhasa is at 3600m and given our end objective of 8850m is a significant slice of altitude. In fact recommended rates of height gain would be of the order of 300m a day and so this jump is uncomfortable. Most folk suffer head aches and some will be nauseous. A couple at least require Diamox treatment. But we've got a couple of days here to settle before heading for Xigatse.
With little to do but let our bodies settle down, its a chance for the team to get to know each other better and share the horror stories of immediate on set of travellers tummies (and it gets most of us).
On Wednesday we visit the Potala - the spiritual centre of Tibet - a monastery on a hilltop in the centre of Lhasa. The former winter palace of the Dalai Lhama and built in the 7th century by the 5th Dalai Lhama its a spectacular "wedding cake" of a monasatery with layers stacked a couple of hundred feet up.
On Thursday a visit was arranged to Sera. One of the largest working monasteries in the world. Although we will get silk tara's (scalf) and red strings blessed by the Rimpoche of Rongbuk monastery we think an extra blessing will not go amiss and so this is arranged and we all are given knotted red strings to wear that have been blessed. We were also fortunate enough to be there while the monks were practising their debating and preaching skills. This involves an open air gathering of several hundred burgundy and saffron robed monks having heated philosphical debates in pairs whilst wildly gesticulating all the more to emphasise the point being made.
Ok, thats about it. On the whole the team's in good shape. Most are improving on the bad heads of altitude sickness and those that have had Delhi bellie have exploded small nuclear devices in their guts to anihilate the bugs. But its going to hurt again in 24hrs because Xigatse is at 4500m another 1000m height gain. We'll stay their a couple of days before moving on to Tingri.
In Tingri we'll meet up with the 5 Tonners which have come in from the west and after a couple of days there acclimatising at 4800m, we'll head in to Base Camp.
Base Camp will be the next time I get to dispatch and once established there the output should be slightly less bulky and hopfully a little more frequent.