Friday, 11 April 2014
(Note to readers: This is our actual post for Friday. The earlier one was written before we left Namche.)
Today was the longest walk thusfar of our trek to Everest Base Camp. We left the comforts of the Panorama Hotel and headed up to Pangboche. While the net elevation change is not that great (11,200 ft up to 13,000 ft), the trail is not so simple. It descends back down to the river, before ascending a steep hill on the other side.
Before we left, Sherap and Lhakpa offered blessing to each of us. We dipped our ring finger in a goblet of water, casting drops three times in the direction of Everest. Sherap then wrapped a kata (a long silk-like scarf) around our neck and prayed for our safe return.
Our departure was slightly delayed by a dental challenge. During the night, the porcelain cap on Martin's front tooth came out. Thankfully, Sherap rang up a Canadian-trained Sherpa dentist down in the village. She came in early and quickly reapplied the cap. The grand total for the service ... about USD 15.00.
Lauren and Jetha hit the trail about 8:30 a.m.. The rest of us headed out at 9:30. Jim followed us on his own a bit later. We had full sun for the first half of the walk and temperatures were around 50F. Although we had considered taking the longer, less-used trail, we opted for the main route through Tengboche.
Everything in this region travels on someone's or something's back. Porters carry huge loads down and up steep trails. For example, we followed a man bearing 4 sheets of 4'x 8' plywood (note: he made it to Pangboche before most of us did). They receive about USD 12.00 to carry a 30kg load all day. From this, they must pay for their own meals and lodging along the way. They carry all the loads using tump lines wrapped around their foreheads. Their stamina is astounding.
Below Namche, we saw lots of goods being carried by trains of stout little ponies. However, now most of the animals are yaks or zhoes (a yak/cow hybrid). The yaks are particularly beautiful. They have long shaggy fur, wrapped around dense bodies. Their short legs have large hooves. On the trail, your first sign a yak train is coming is bells. Every animal has a large bell that bongs as it moves. The next thing you notice is a very impressive set of horns headed your way. You quickly learn to climb to the high side of the hill and let the group pass. No matter what the direction, the yak assumes the right=of=way.
After descending to the river and crossing a long swinging bridge, some of the group stopped for lunch. Martin and Steve kept going, powered by Snickers bars and a desire to get to Pangboche. The trail ascended steeply and seemingly forever up through mixed forest of pine and juniper.
We finally reached the small village of Tengboche, in a clearing at the top of the ridge. A large Buddhist monestary dominates the grassy clearing. It is one of the four monestaries supporting the Khumbu region, the others being in Khumjung, Pangboche and Thame. The rolling trail continued out through forests of rhodedendron. After another river crossing, we faced the final long hill up to Pangboche. To quote Martin, "(expletive deleted), another hill!"
The group arrived in small clusters at our hotel in a late afternoon snowstorm. Most of us found Steve and Martin happily sitting around the yak dung stove in the center of the tea room. We were very glad to join them.
We are all healthy and happy. Lauren and Scott are now drug-free and over their respective maladies.
Lots of love to our family and friends.
Posted by: Scott Williams
Blogs by other members of the expedition
Shane - http://HeartHealthyEverestClimb2014.blogspot.com
Steve - http://Wetumpka2Everest.blogspot.com
Jeff - http://www.highpeakadventures.com/high_peak_adventures/web_log/web_log.html
Lauren arrives in Pangboche