We made it. In what was possibly the hardest and most emotionally draining day on the road, we made it to Qomolongma basecamp. After several hours of heavy dirt riding, we rounded a major corner into the final valley approach and there was Everest. Huge and glorious it made the previous sightings seem insignificant by comparison. As we pulled into basecamp I think everyone sensed the magnitude of the moment. Each person had come here for a specific reason and mine was no less significant. The altitude made for a challenging physical effort - at 5,200m/17,060ft every step felt like twenty. We climbed the hill that contains the marker and it took a bit of work to get there. We each took some time to call friends and family (the 3G coverage from basecamp is remarkable!) and took a moment to reflect on the achievement.
After all the photos were done we climbed back down to enjoy a traditional lunch in one of the many tents near basecamp. I think it must have been 120degrees in the tent but after the long ride up it felt like a welcomed sauna break. Then it was time to go.
The return trip took less time then the approach since we knew the road. It made the return much faster since our confidence in the single track gravel road was much higher and riding faster was a possibility. We made it back to the hotel quite late (another tricky military checkpoint after three previous ones) and had a quick dinner before retiring for a well earned night's sleep.