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Height of adventure

By Yang Feiyue | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-01-17 08:24

Photographers Ma Chunlin and Dong Shuchang capture the majesty of Qomolangma from a similar angle of photographs taken by English mountaineer George Mallory a century ago. CHINA DAILY

"It's an unknown path. A partner can make things easier and safer," Ma says.

He embarked on a trek with his journey partner Dong, who is from Northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, in September. Dong won the 2021 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition with his solar-eclipse photography work of 2020, titled Golden Ring.

They studied hundreds of pages of expedition logs left by Mallory and his team and figured out the route to Kharta Valley and the time it would take to cover it. Dong had focused much of his attention on astronomical photography earlier and learned to hike in the wilderness and studied the Himalayas' history and formations of glaciers and climate in the mountainous areas for the trek. Yet, the harsh conditions caught them off guard.

"We didn't have high-altitude camping and hiking experience, so we made many silly mistakes. For example, we even forgot to buy chocolate bars that could conveniently 'recharge our batteries'," Ma says.

They had altitude sickness while enduring rain, snow, hail and gale.

"I was sick to the bursting point during the last night at the valley," Ma recalls.

But, thrills pulled them through from experiencing the biodiversity, including lush forests, tropical and meadow plants, snowy peaks, glaciers and lakes. The most thrilling moments came during sunrise, which gave them two hours of photography time. They attached the camera to a drone until the battery ran out.

"We finished almost all the things we had planned," Ma says.

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