Well, I had a fine night… Apparently some others did not, because of one ornery dog that barked for about seven hours. Nonstop. No kidding. Thank you, earplugs!
Up for breakfast at 7, then walking by 8 AM. We were very pleased to have fine conditions for our start, including blue skies and minimal breezes.
The trail starts down, into rhododendron forests that shade the way from tha morning sun, meaning there was lots of ice and frozen mud, which made for slightly treacherous going. But, soon enough, the trail leveled out, then crossed the river, and began to climb again to our first stop: The home of Lama Geshi.
The Lama is a delightful septogenarian (we think) who fled Tibet in 1959. He lives in a modest home in the small hillside village of Pangboche. We were ushered into his blessing room, where the sherpa team and then the guides and climbers received his permission and encouragement to climb the mountain. Each of us received a silk prayer scarf and a thin red cord tied around our neck. He asked us to bring a postcard to the summit and take a photo, then send it to him, which I will try to do. The scent of juniper smoke wafted through the room. This was an important moment in the expedition, not only for me personally but because I saw firsthand how seriously the Sherpa took this ceremony. They are taking a risk to help us achieve our dreams, and to support their families and their communities. It was a humbling moment for me (one among many), which I will not forget.
After the ceremony we walked a short distance farther to the tiny village of Somari (13,400 feet) for lunch, where were got great views of large vultures thermaling overhead (and roosting on the hill nearby), as well as more cute kids and puppies.
The weather changed for the worse, as it seems to do often in the afternoon, and we got back in the saddle to make the trek to Pheriche. The terrain changed dramatically above treeline, with broad valleys, low scrub, a tundra-like quality. Weather closed in with graupel and winds, but my kit kept me plenty warm, and we made Pheriche in good time. This is a small village with some tea houses and not much more… our lodging at the Himalayan Hotel is pretty great, with a warm & cozy dining area and decent WiFi (not decent enough to allow me to post video, but blogging is possible again!) There are yaks in the pastures, snow on the hills, and good times at the dinner table.
Plan is for a late start tomorrow, then a short acclimatization hike, and a visit to HRA, the Himalayan Rescue Association.
posted: April 9, 2015
Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World