04.10.2009 - 04.10.2009 5 °C
We arrived at the lower base camp at about 7:20pm and the sun was rapidly setting. The lower base camp is where most of the activity is (during tourist season and not climbing season). Of course there were people selling souvenirs and lots of 4WD vehicles. There were also many large tents where people slept, including some tourists who paid extra.
I'm certain why there is a upper and lower base camp. My guess is that it is some government way to control access to the actual base camp. Anyone wanting to go to the upper base camp must take special "eco" buses from the lower base camp, which just gives someone another way to charge people to visit the real base camp. As far as we could tell these "eco" buses were not any more environmentally friendly or sustainable than any of the other old buses in China, except they crammed people into them until the aisles were full of people standing up. I guess you could call that an "eco" bus like a big carpool.
By the time we finally got to the upper base camp the sun had set and clouds had covered the north face. We were lucky to get such a brilliant view of it from the lower base camp, so we weren't complaining. It was getting dark very fast so our photos were all a bit blurry. The upper base camp has a few permanent buildings, not just tents like the lower base camp. We were only there for a few windy minutes, but it was special nonetheless.