Episode 180: Tong La

It's All Downhill From Here. We reached the last of our high points on this Everest adventure this afternoon by topping out on Tong La. At 17,000 feet (5200m) it's either the last high point or the first high point along the Friendship Highway (depending on which direction you're traveling). This was my 4th time atop Tong La so it was all very familiar to me. Of course I couldn't help but think about my first time up there back in 2003 with Ben and Major. It almost seems like a dream because I was really feeling the altitude and was in total culture shock. After all it was only my 2nd day of being in Tibet for the first time. We were heading in the opposite direction -- towards Everest -- back then so this was the first high point for me. It's difficult to know exactly if the memories I have of that day are actual memories or if I'm simply remembering the footage that Major shot during our brief visit. Either way it's all kind of fuzzy but what I am sure of today is that the Jon Miller from 2003 had NO idea what he was getting into back then! Back in 2003 Tong La provided me with my first true view of the Himalayas proper. You can see 8013m (26,289ft) Shishapangma and I remember thinking to myself, "Wow" due to the sheer size of the mountain. These mountains are HUGE. What I could not have known back then was what a HUGE impact these mountains would have on my life. Back in 2003 on Tong La I was at the very beginning of a life changing experience. Now in 2010 I'm guiding my second group of people in the Himalayas and have helped to change their lives in much the same way. What an amazing experience for me, personally, to end this incredible time in Tibet on top of Tong La. To come full circle (again!) and return to one of the places that began this close relationship with Tibet, Nepal and these unique mountains. I've now visited Everest 5 times on 4 different trips. North Side, North Side, South Side, East Side & North Side. Standing on Tong La looking down towards Nyalam (where we'll spend the night), I have the privilege of knowing that, while this trek has been incredible, one of the best moments of the entire adventure is yet to come. There are very few experiences in life as satisfying as returning to Kathmandu after a successful visit to Everest. Let's GO! Jon Miller Total Running Time: 24:26