Thursday, May 17, 2007

Himalayan Holiday - Tiger Hill

We received our wake up call at 3:45am, and were out the hotel and on the way to Tiger Hill to see the sunrise, and hopefully the elusive Kanchenjunga. It didn't look too hopeful as we passed through the mist on the short drive to the summit. On reaching the car park we discovered that their was a choice of tickets: normal, deluxe and super-deluxe. Normal was standing in the car park, whilst the other two were in viewing rooms within a building. We took the deluxe option, and headed to the viewing room. Once there it appeared that the car park would have been a better option, as people were pressed against the windows making it hard to get a clear view. There was a wide ledge below the first floor windows, and a pair of young British guys clambered out the window to sit outside. I realised that this provided a good, unobstructed view and followed them out. the ledge was wide enough to sit down comfortably and set up my camera and tripod. The only downside was the temperature; before sunrise at 2,600m it is pretty cold!

As the sky began to lighten it became apparent that the weather was going to be kinder to us than it had appeared earlier. Whilst the valleys were full of cloud the peaks were poking through. As the sun rose the mountains looked very picturesque in the sea of mist. As the sun continued upwards the colours gradually shifted through various shades of orange. Up till now we had not seen Kanchenjunga, but San told me it was visible and pointed towards it. I was struggling to see it until I lifted my gaze from the horizon and looked up. The snow clad peaks were seemingly floating above the cloud, and were substantially higher than any of the nearby hills. Before George Everest's Great Trigonometric Survey Kanchenjunga was though to be the world's highest mountain. It is certainly a spectacular sight, and it was well worth the wait.

My window ledge companions were given some tea, and they asked me if I would like some too. I gratefully accepted; my fingers were pretty numb by now. Then there was a buzz of excitement. Apparently Everest was visible. We all looked westwards, but there was not much to see other than cloud. I peered through my binoculars, and did see a dark patch that could be a mountain, or a distant black cloud. We became more convinced that it was rock when the dark object failed to move. By now the crowds, unlike the western clouds, were dispersing, and it was time to leave. We entered through the windows, and before we left, we inspected a panoramic postcard which named the visible peaks. This postcard convinced me that I had seen a mountain, but Makalu rather than Everest. The shape on the postcard was an exact match with what I had seen with the binoculars.

We headed back to the hotel, stopping at a small monastery, and Batasia Loop. Batasia Loop, as the name suggests, is a loop of track that reduces the gradient that would otherwise need to be overcome. Inside the loop is the Gorkha War Memorial: a statue of a Gorkha and a cenotaph with Mount Kanchenjunga providing the backdrop. We were too early for any trains, which was just as well as a market was being held on the tracks. After admiring the view, we returned to the hotel. San had breakfast, whilst I had a nap before we headed out for the rest of the day's sightseeing.



Post a Comment

<< Home