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Conquering poverty at the world's highest peak

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-05-28 08:50

LHASA -- When she was young Dorlma saw Mount Qomolangma (Everest) through her bedroom window every morning when she woke up.

Years later, the world's highest peak brought the 29-year-old her fortune.

At an altitude of 5,200 meters where the concrete road comes to an end, the base camp consists of nearly 60 tents offers tourists accommodation before they set out on their trips to conquer the 8,800-meter-plus mountain.

Dorlma runs an inn in one of the tents.

"Tourists can sleep for a warm night and try Tibetan lifestyle by having Tibetan food and listening to Tibetan songs here," she says.

Monday marks the 64th anniversary of man's first successful expedition to Mt. Qomolangma, with New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay from Nepal reaching the summit on May 29, 1953.

Decades after the epic climb to the world's peak, Tibetans at the foot of Mount Qomolangma have conquered poverty by receiving professional and amateur mountaineers and tourists.

Like a traditional Tibetan herdsman's home, Dorlma's inn has a wooden floor set on stones, a shared bed for six people, three big Tibetan chairs for sitting and sleeping, and a stove at the center that burns cow manure.

"This is the best living condition we can provide here," she says, while putting alcohol on the stove to start a fire.

Despite it being late May, heating is necessary at the plateau base.

The inn brings her an income of over 100,000 yuan ($14,600) every year, 100-times the amount she once brought home herding and toiling on farmland. Farming yields are meager at altitudes above 4,000 meters.

Dorlma started her inn in 2008, when only four tent inns were operating.

She has witnessed great change at the infrastructure of the base including a concrete road, electricity, mobile networks and the world's highest post office.

Postal worker Tsomo started working her job here in mid-April, collecting and stamping postcards every day. A set of 10 postcards printed with Mt. Qomolangma is available at the office.

"Sometimes I stamp tens of thousands of times on a busy day," says Tsomo, adding that postal workers from the county post office come once a week, ensuring delivery of postcards within 10 days across China and 20 days around the world.

Party chief Chimed Tsering of Qoizong village in Zhaxizom township, where the base is located, says every tent operator needs to pay 40,000 yuan annual rent, which is distributed to poor villagers as a dividend.

"No household should be left behind on the way to prosperity," he says.

The benefits brought by tourism boom are also shared by other villages.

Deputy head of Zhaxizom township Penlo says that 20 villages in the township are allowed to run inns at the base, with people from a further 10 villages offering delivery services by yak.

"As of last year, the entire township cast off poverty," Penlo says.

Newly-weds Li Dongzhuoyi and his wife from northwest China's Shaanxi province drove to Tibet for their honeymoon. Mt. Qomolangma was the westernmost stop on their journey.

After mailing the postcards, they enter Dorlma's tent to eat Tibetan food and drink butter tea.

"We did not expect there would be a warm inn at the foot of Qomolangma. The local boss is hospitable to us. We feel like we are at home," he says.

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