Beyond The Bridges
My second travel journal/photobook, "Beyond The Bridges", was written in mid 2011 following a trip to Tibet. Once again it's a relatively short story, of around 12,000 words. It followed the pattern the first book.
As I say in the text, this trip fully awakened in me the outrage I feel towards the Chinese government's occupation of Tibet. I have been a financial supporter of the Australian Tibet Council for many years as a result.
Day 15 - Saturday, 7th May 2011 (4,448m/14,500')
We are stuck at camp five -- Rinzin Camp -- today. It has been snowing intermittently all day, and the decision has not yet been made to go on or turn back.
Disappointingly the snow clouds which had come in last night stymied any chance of a dawn viewing of today. Still, that is the lot of those who venture into the mountains. The elements are well and truly beyond anyone's control, and we must deal with that philosophically.
So an interesting dilemma now confronts us. Forward in the snow is the Langma La at 17,500’. We have just received word back that it is now impassable. Fresh snow makes it very difficult and dangerous for humans and impossible for beasts. So retreat really becomes the only option. But back behind us the Shao La at just over 16,000’ is in unknown condition, due to the last two days of snow.
We know that the climb up the valley floor will be incredibly hard -- climbing over those rocks again up perhaps 900 m, through snow, ice, mud and water.
And then down the other side, the north-east slope, with the unknown quality of what snow has fallen there, and how difficult it will be for human and yak to descend.
And they are the only options. There is no other way out of this valley. And there is no airlift in the event that we get stuck. So Shao La it is. Today is Saturday. The Shao La crossing will be Monday early. Weather permitting.
Day 18 - Tuesday 10th May 2011 (4,650m/15,250')
And then something quite unexpected happened -- something I have reflected on almost daily since. Sitting in the mess tent, surrounded by the rest of the crew, I was suddenly overcome with emotion and spontaneously burst into tears. Two others did the same. Whatever it was, it was for me a reflection of the total physical and mental exhaustion I felt. There wasn't, and has not been since, any embarrassment at the event. It was just an “is” at the time -- in fact, looking back at my diary over the preceding couple of days I can see how it had built up. As a result I feel much stronger mentally now than before -- indeed it has contributed to my “I have been to the mountain” view of the world (see Epilogue).
You can read the whole story here
Images: top and right:
Top: My photo titled 'Alone', 2011. High above Lhasa, at Drepung Monastery, with the orderly (and out of place) city below, this shot of the lone monk cries out to me about all that is wrong with the Chinese occupation of Tibet. This photo was judged by the Australian Tibet Council as the winner of their Justice For Tibetan Nomads campaign competition in 2019.
Right: The magnificent Potala Palace, one of my three favourite buildings in the world.
Images: L to R from left:
Dawn over a frozen lake, approx. 20 klms SW of Makalu (middle/centre mountain), the world's 5th highest mountain;
10m high Neitang Buddha, approx. 20klms SW of Lhasa;
Before the storm, from our campsite high above the Kangshung Valley;
North Face of Chomolungma (Mt Everest) from the seriously desolate Rongbuk Valley;
Trekking crew with a pretty awesome backdrop.