Return from heaven

By Palden Nyima in Lhasa and Randy Wright in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-17 09:02
View looking south toward Qomolangma, about 50 kilometers away. Just left and behind Qomolangma, the highest peak in this image, is Lhotse, the world's fourth-highest mountain at 8,516 meters. [Photo by TASHI TSERING/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Every year, crowds of amateur climbers rush headlong up Qomolangma, but for Tibetan guide Tashi Tsering, it remains a place of serenity

The climbing season ended days ago on China's side of the world's highest mountain, and Tibetan guide Tashi Tsering has come down, laden with trash left by careless foreigners, fulfilling his promise to the mountain god. But his mind is still up there, in the thin soup of what's left of the atmosphere above 8,000 meters. It's hard to disengage. His thoughts linger on the struggles high above to help paying clients survive one of the most hostile and demanding environments on Earth. And he thinks of the corpses.

Over the years, many have died in attempts to climb Qomolangma (Mount Everest), their bodies frozen in place for decades. The corpses serve as grisly signposts for other climbers, marking progress toward the summit.

Climbers know the risk of death before they start. They must fend for themselves. Niceties such as proper burials are nonexistent. Attempting to rescue someone or extract a person's remains endangers the lives of others in this alien world.

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