Giant on the move
The Beijing Olympic torch is held aloft at the top of Mount Everest on Thursday in this image taken from television footage.
The climbing team, which included 22 Tibetans, eight Han Chinese and one man from the Tujia minority, had been on the mountain for more than a week preparing the route along the north-east ridge.
Take a look at Nick’s story about the moment so many Chinese have been waiting for.
If the word around camp is anything to go by, the final assault on the summit of Everest will begin in the early hours of Thursday morning. Journalists and accompanying officials have spent much of the day taking souvenir photos and snapping up post cards at the “world’s highest post office”.
The rumours would appear to be based on nothing more than collective will (or hysteria, perhaps).
At an early press conference today the novel inclusion of information we hadn’t heard before briefly raised spirits in what has become quite a downbeat media camp.
As the weekend snowstorms destroyed the careful preparations the Chinese had made on the mountain and a second week in Tibet became an inevitability, there has been a lot of talk about going home. Not just from journalists, either. Many of the officials who travelled with us from Beijing or joined us at Lhasa airport barely attempt to disguise their low spirits any more. I don’t know whether the cause is the altitude, the cold, the increasingly predictable diet, the lack of showers or just day after day of telling news-hungry journalists that there is no news. One of the senior officials told me again today that he thought we were getting “closer and closer” to “our goal”, while another said he thought our fond farewells would not be not too far away.
The foreign media contingent was moved from the huts to rooms inside the media centre late on Saturday evening, due to to the extreme weather. It was welcome, and much warmer. It seems it was by way of compensation for not taking us back to a hotel for a shower and a night in a proper bed, as we had requested. After the recent snow, the roads were apparently too dangerous.
One man who did get away was Joerg Brase of German television. Joerg had been suffering with high blood pressure ever since our arrival at the foot of Everest.
I heard excited cries outside our hut this morning and the optimist in me immediately thought the climbers had reached the summit of Everest with the Olympic torch.
A warm bath, clean clothes and bedding were only a matter of hours away, I thought, as I poked my nose over the top of my sleeping bag into the icy cold.
We’re here, where’s the torch?
We arrived. For a long time it looked like we wouldn’t, but on Monday morning, four days after leaving Beijing, 11 foreign journalists arrived at the media centre on the lower slopes of Mount Everest to report on the torch relay.
It brought to an end two of weeks of uncertainty that started when a briefing was cancelled and we heard nothing more until we were summoned to the Beijing Olympic media centre on the morning of our scheduled departure. The party of foreign media, at this stage 20-strong, was informed that bad weather had caused a delay to our journey and the departure ceremony for the climb team and torch had been cancelled.