It was still dark when the crews left the warmth of the hotel foyer and headed to the car park to start their engines. We were very pleased to see one of those cars was Mark Robinson and Yvonne Fuller’s Rolls Royce, Car 10. It had been thwarted with fuel issues throughout Monday and eventually arrived at the hotel at 11pm on the end of the tow rope.
The sweeps eventually discovered that the fuel tank pick up pipe had a piece of solder in it intermittently blocking it. By 2.30am they had it finished and working so only managed to grab about three hours sleep.
So why such an early start? Because Event Director Liz Wenman had organized for the rally to be granted special permission to visit the Rongbuk Monastery, the highest monastery in the world and only 8km from Mount Everest base camp.
First there was the mountain pass Tso La at 4530m to drive over followed by Gyatso La at 5240m, before we got to the viewing platform that gave us our first sighting of Mount Everest.
As the sun was rising, many locals from the villages and nomads with goats, sheep and yaks were preparing the fields for the spring and many farmers are busy doing just this – or checking their phones!
At the summit at 5273m were the gates to the QomolangmaNature Reserve, home of Everest. As we stopped at the gate for pictures, although the sun was shining and the sky a perfect blue, the temperature changed dramatically.
Once passed the Golden Yak statue, we caught our first glimpse. The very peak was covered in clouds but, with the high winds and blue skies, we knew this was going to be our lucky day.
We made our way up the winding hairpins to the Kya Wu La Pass (Pang La) at 5200m, where we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the Himalayan range including four peaks above 8000m: Makalu (8463m, 5th highest), Lhotse (8516m, 4th highest), Everest (8848m), and Cho Oyu (8201m, 6th highest).
Standing at 8844.43m above sea level, Mt. Qomolangma (Mount Everest, meaning ‘Mother of the Universe’ or ‘Goddess Mother of the Snows’ in Tibetan), is the highest peak in the world, and also the main peak of the Himalayas. The summit is situated on the border between China and Nepal, and its south side belongs to Nepal, while the north side belongs to Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
Many crews waited at the highest viewing point for the cloud to drift away while some chose to drive on to the Rongbuk Monastery – and they were duly rewarded for their efforts as the view from the car park which soon became a picnic area was outstanding.
As the locals and monks went about their business, the crews posed for photos but for Phillip and Yvonne Haslam of Car 15, the 1954 Jaguar XK120, it was a very special and emotional moment as today is their 35th wedding anniversary.
The crews were blown away by how close to Everest we were, and it must be one if the stand out moments of the Trans-Himalayan Adventure of which there has been many.
It was then into the monastery itself to thank them for their hospitality. Many of the monks, both male and female live at Rongbuk, were having lunch but one who spoke very good English wanted to know all about our adventures.
Speaking of which, David and Julia Little of Car 2 had a bit of excitement this afternoon when their luggage dislodged from its hold on the rear of their 1925 Bentley Super Sports and landed on the exhaust, catching fire. They lost a sleeping bag and blanket, but the crews have rallied round to find them replacements.
Dougie and Kate Lawson’s Jaguar XK150, Car 17, also suffered two breakdowns due to fuel issues today while Car 11, James Hall-Smith and Ed Talbot’s 1938 Rolls Royce overheated first thing due to too higher-octane fuel but soon corrected itself.
Another incredible day and, with three nights camping in the Himalayas looming, the adventure is on!