Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 17:48 UK

Everest Olympic torch diary

As the Olympic torch makes its way around the world before arriving in Beijing for the games in August, the BBC's Jonah Fisher joins it for the high point of its trip - on Mount Everest.

In the fourth of his diary instalments, he arrives at the base of the mountain.


A tour of Jonah Fisher's base on Mount Everest

We've now arrived at the foot of Mount Everest and it's clear that no expense has been spared preparing for this event.

A new road has been built to cover the final 90km into the Himalayas, and here at Rongbo Monastery a media centre has been constructed.

It consists mainly of a canteen, a room with internet access, and chipboard huts with beds. All, of course, come with stunning views of the great mountain.

Where's the fire?

Unfortunately, it seems providing information on the torch's ascent is no longer part of China's media plans.

The media centre built at the foot of Everest
The media centre on the roof of the world

So far we've been briefed on likely weather conditions, the press facilities, and the local television station's plans to relay pictures back off the mountain. Every question about the torch is stonewalled.

Having invited us here to cover the ascent of the flame, the Chinese appear to have taken fright.

It now seems that they only want us to report the victorious summit moment. We may never know if there were failed attempts, or indeed if someone hurt themselves trying for the top.

The only fact we possess is that the flame is somewhere in the area.

Tingles and chills

Travelling over 5,000km from Beijing and rapidly rising to an altitude of 5,300m only to encounter a news blackout the mood among the international journalists is pretty fed up.

Mount Everest

Everyone is feeling the increased stress of life at high altitude. Complaints about headaches and stomach upsets are common, as are tingling parts of the body. Bitterly cold nights aren't helping.

One of our colleagues from Hong Kong television had particularly severe altitude sickness and had to be evacuated last night. Such was his misfortune that the ambulance had an accident on the way down but we're told he's going to be fine.

In the absence of an official briefing on the subject we've been speculating on which day the Chinese would most like the summit to take place.

We've come up with two likely options for this week. Wednesday marks 100 days before the Olympics start, while Thursday is a national holiday in China.

Either would be perfect for Beijing.

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