Return from heaven

By Palden Nyima in Lhasa and Randy Wright in Beijing | China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-17 09:02
Marking the Summer Olympics in 2008, Tashi Tsering holds the Olympic torch on Qomolangma's summit. [Photo/China Daily]

"The moment I arrived, I found myself in the middle of a cloud, on the top of the world, and I felt this must be what it's like in heaven, with the sun shining from the bottom of my feet," he said.

Since then, he has accompanied climbers on Qomolangma 18 times and has reached the summit 14 times. He has amassed memories of inspiration, fear, danger, struggle and death, which can be read in his placid face and self-assured manner.

In 2005, he guided a man from Denmark who was attempting to climb Qomolangma without oxygen. The man's condition turned critical at 8,550 meters, about 300 meters below the summit, and Tatse offered some oxygen to help him reach the top. "He was a brave guy. He refused to take my oxygen, staying true to his goal. I was inspired by him," Tatse said.

The man turned back.

"I could climb Qomolangma without oxygen, but I carry it for the safety of my clients," Tatse said, not boasting, just stating a fact.

Yet at extreme altitude, you don't always get to choose the outcome. Sometimes the mountain chooses for you.

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