[This one’s one of my favorites so far–the axle element just makes me laugh.–Dave]

[My brother Joe lives in Guam and travels all over that part of the world whenever he gets vacation. Right now he’s off to China, and he’s letting me post some of the travelogue notes he’s sending out. Pretty interesting stuff.]

Post 6, Tibet:
Seven Years in Tibet…At least it feels like it…

Got in last night from Everest. What a trip. The ride was a test of endurance as much as the trekking. The Southern roads are dirt trails for mules with not much thought to cars. Every major town on the way required a permit. We got into Everest Base Camp for three days and Trekked up Everest almost 6000M before we were blocked by a new white water river that formed in a few days by summer heat. We were able to cross two of them by stripping and wading through it, but the biggest was impassable. We were pretty well prepared, decked out in North Face gear and polarized sunglasses…I got altitude sickess first, but recovered first, the rest of us were sick until this morning. The views were beautiful, Everest looks as huge and high as any of us could have imagined. The ride there and back were snow capped mountains and gorges with little villages of very kind people. Lhasa is a pretty big town, so it was nice to see the real Tibet.

No showers, one heated room in the mess area via burning yak dung… No English, little Mandarin, only Tibetan. Of the few amatuers we saw, few made it as far as us. Many were so sick on arrival to camp they left without a climb. It was far worse than Peru last year. We slept in a monastery… imagine that.

Our Landcruiser broke down 7 times until we lost the axle yesterday morning. The driver wired it together with cable and wanted us to finish the drive with him through some of the the worst passages in the the Himalaya (sheer cliffs and hairpin pins). When we refused and hitched a ride with a Tibetan family, he tracked us down and went crazy yelling that we would not make it back alive and he was rallying friends to follow him in support. The drama lasted all day… the guy was a jerk from day one. We had to go straight to the goverment travel office when we got into town and had him “restrained.” They gave us a generous refund and we had a nice hot dinner in Lhasa with the money. He pulled up as we left and when they looked at the wired axle they lost it on him. The two groups waiting to contract a ride were visibly upset. Poor guy, he won’t be allowed to drive again. The drama only made the trip more intesting (in retrospect of course…).

Our crew was two college students from the US, a Canadian climber from China, our Tibetan guide, myself and the Tibetan driver. Marc and Chris left this morning for Lijang and Jeff and Carol are staying for a week more (she works here and is local). I am on the way to the Potala Palace and then I’m catching a plane back to Changdu to hit Chogqing in the morning for the Yangztee River cruise to Yichang. We are planning to meet in Ko Pi Pi, Thailand a a few weeks.