Only when they awake at first light do the travelers discover that the plane is traveling in the wrong direction - away from civilization and toward unknown mountainous regions. Whatever its destination, the plane does not reach it - fuel runs out and it crash-lands on an arctic mountaintop in the middle of a blizzard.
The following day, as despair has begun to set in for the weary group, a caravan arrives from a lamasery. The soft-spoken and dignified leader, Chang, mysteriously produces warm clothing for the group's journey, which is "not particularly far, but quite difficult."
The destination is reached: passing through a natural portal the travelers
suddenly find themselves in a peaceful sunlit valley, in sharp contrast to
the raging storm without. "Welcome to Shangri-La."
When pressed, Chang reveals that the colony was begun 200 years ago by the High Lama, Father Perrault - founded as a haven for civilization's rare treasures, a safe place untouched by wars and mankind's follies that threaten to destroy the outside world. Health and prosperity abound; in fact it is 'quite common to live to a ripe old age.' Indeed, Conway finds this to be true when he is summoned into the presence of the High Lama himself, still alive after two centuries.
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