Field Dispatch: Lhasa, Tibet

1 August 2010. Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region

On 31 July, we set foot for Tibet from a small roadside hostel in the area of Budongquan (meaning "never frozen spring") at 0600, and had breakfast in the village of Wudaoliang (elevation 13800 feet). We met several teams of cross-country cyclists there, sharing the thin air.

We pressed on without much stopping, except at Tuotuohe (the source of the Yangtze River) and Tanggula Mountain Pass (at 15693 feet elevation) along the way. We met an outcoming team of paleontologists from the IVPP and Nanjing in the city of Naqu; they had just finished up excavation of fossil fish in Lunpola Basin, and were driving towards Kunlun Mountain for additional fieldwork. We had a quick bite to eat while there, and received stories and advice from the Lunpola team.

After several hours of driving through restricted speed-limit zones and navigating in the dark with busted headlights, we pulled into the Tiancheng Hotel in southwestern Lhasa at 2345 (almost mid-night!). We unloaded our gear and settled down for a few hours of much-needed sleep.

For the rest of the day (still 1 August), our vehicles are being serviced, while several small groups of team members go out to buy last-minute supplies for the upcoming trek to the Zhada Basin, in southwestern Tibet. The overall health of our team is excellent, as would be expected for a seasoned expedition crew. The LACM team spent about one week in the lower-elevation Tsaidam Basin, in part to acclimate ourselves for working conditions above 13000 feet. From an elevation of "sea-level" in Beijing, we spent some time working at 9000-10,000 feet elevation; we will travel through terrains at 13,000-14,000 feet elevation for the next 4 days.

~Gary and Jack

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