Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Waiting with Baited Breath
The Olympic torch is now in Guangdong Province and as far as we know, things are going swimmingly.
There aren't those noisy demonstrators, shouting "free Tibet", or waving Tibetan flags. Or anyone even remotely interested in trying to extinguish the "sacred" flame.
Instead things are unfolding exactly what the Chinese government had hoped for -- people cheering along the way, waving Chinese national flags and shouting "Zhongguo Jia You!" "Go China Go!"
In the meantime we're all waiting with baited breath to see when the other Olympic torch will actually make its ascent up Mount Qomolangma, or Mount Everest to the rest of the world.
China got special permission from the International Olympic Committee to have "two" flames. The one closer to sea level will stop moving once the ascent begins. A specially designed torch was created for this event and tests done to make sure the flame doesn't die out in thin oxygen levels.
It's already at base camp, and the 36-member team announced, that includes 24 Tibetans, 10 Han Chinese, and one each from the Tu and Tujia ethnic minorities.
Today they even announced the proposed route up Mt. Qomolangma, by going up the northern slope which, out of the 20 possible routes, is one of the safest. Base Camp is at 5,2oo meters high, and the distance to the 6,500-meter-high Advanced Base Camp is 28km. From there, the summit is another 20km.
Apparently right now, this is the only ascent made on the entire mountain -- all other recreational climbers are shut out from climbing the world's highest peak. The government didn't want anything to distract this most ambitious event.
While all the preparations have been made, the weather hasn't been cooperating so far. There was heavy snowfall a few days ago and now the team is waiting for the right conditions.
Beijing Olympics organizers have said the ascent will be made sometime in May. But what if the weather doesn't cooperate at all? Then what?