Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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Road to Pheriche

Everest 2015  •  April 3

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 view from our room in Tengboche. This certainly gets us motivated to get up and get out of town. (Photo: Blake Penson)
The view from our room in Tengboche. This certainly gets us motivated to get up and get out of town. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Fresh start to the day, a good omen for our push to Pheriche.
Fresh start to the day, a good omen for our push to Pheriche.
Winds ripping off Lhotse.
Winds ripping off Lhotse.
Our objective, clear and calm, towers above in the distance.
Our objective, clear and calm, towers above in the distance.
The tea house looks quaint in this angle. The reality inside as a bit more austere.
The tea house looks quaint in this angle. The reality inside as a bit more austere.
My duffel being loaded onto a yak. I think he is not happy about it....
My duffel being loaded onto a yak. I think he is not happy about it….
The monastery seems pleased by our departure.
The monastery seems pleased by our departure.
Two of our wonderful and enthusiastic sherpa team members.
Two of our wonderful and enthusiastic sherpa team members.
Team Awesome, Himalayan Chapter. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Team Awesome, Himalayan Chapter. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Pulling out of Tengboche. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Pulling out of Tengboche. (Photo: Justin Merle)

 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.

Rhododendron forests greet us as we descend from Tengboche to Rivendell and Deboche... after this, an ascent for the rest of the day.
Rhododendron forests greet us as we descend from Tengboche to Rivendell and Deboche… after this, an ascent for the rest of the day.
The Imja Khola River. (Photo: Blake Penson)
The Imja Khola River. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Justin and the Imja Khola
Justin and the Imja Khola
This bridge across the Inja Khola river collapsed several years ago... an engineering failure that likely represents a huge loss of time and money where both are precious.
This bridge across the Imja Khola river collapsed several years ago… an engineering failure that likely represents a huge loss of time and money where both are precious.
We will definitely find another way across....
We will definitely find another way across….
Moving higher on the way to Pangboche.
Moving higher on the way to Pangboche.
The eyes are meant to represent those of the all-seeing Buddha.
The eyes are meant to represent those of the all-seeing Buddha.
We pass through some sort of ceremonial gate... not sure what it signifies, but it's cool. (Photo: Blake Penson)
We pass through some sort of ceremonial gate… not sure what it signifies, but it’s cool. (Photo: Blake Penson)
A stupa watches over us from above the trail. (Photo: Blake Penson)
A stupa watches over us from above the trail. (Photo: Blake Penson)
A Stupa on the trail. (Photo: Justin Merle)
A Stupa on the trail. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Ama Dablam. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Ama Dablam. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Prayer flags in the Khumbu. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Prayer flags in the Khumbu. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Prayer stones adorn the trail to the home of Lama Geshi in Pangboche. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Prayer stones adorn the trail to the home of Lama Geshi in Pangboche. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Ama Dablam from Pangboche. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Ama Dablam from Pangboche. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Prayer flags near Lama Geshi's home.
Prayer flags near Lama Geshi’s home.
Pangboche is a lovely village with plenty of evergreen trees.
Pangboche is a lovely village with plenty of evergreen trees.

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.

Everyone awaits a turn for a personal blessing by the Lama. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Everyone awaits a turn for a personal blessing by the Lama. (Photo: Justin Merle)
I receive a blessing of safe passage from Lama Geshi.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
I receive a blessing of safe passage from Lama Geshi. (Photo: Justin Merle)

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.

Looking back at Tengboche from the trail near Pangboche.
Looking back at Tengboche from the trail near Pangboche.

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.

Andy leads us over the last hump before Pheriche. Graupel and wind encourage us to make haste! (Photo: Blake Penson)
Andy leads us over the last hump before Pheriche. Graupel and wind encourage us to make haste! (Photo: Blake Penson)
Blake and Wayne thrive in this environment.
Blake and Wayne thrive in this environment.
Andy in the lead, let's get to Pheriche!
Andy in the lead, let’s get to Pheriche!
Feeling the chill at the end of the day's push. You can see Pheriche in the distance. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Feeling the chill at the end of the day’s push. You can see Pheriche in the distance. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Pheriche seems pretty bleak, but it is a welcome port in the storm. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Pheriche seems pretty bleak, but it is a welcome port in the storm. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Our home for the next few days....
Our home for the next few days….
Very excited to cross this threshold!
Very excited to cross this threshold!
As usual, our duffels are already here. Amazing work by IMG's porters and yaks.
As usual, our duffels are already here. Amazing work by IMG’s porters and yaks.
Kim grapples with narrow bandwidth. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Kim grapples with narrow bandwidth. (Photo: Justin Merle)
So does Siva... (Photo: Justin Merle)
So does Siva… (Photo: Justin Merle)
So does Kara.... (Photo: Justin Merle)
So does Kara…. (Photo: Justin Merle)
So does Wayne... (Photo: Justin Merle)
So does Wayne… (Photo: Justin Merle)
And so does yours truly. (Photo: Justin Merle)
And so does yours truly. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Of course, we can always TALK to each other! (Photo: Justin Merle)
Of course, we can always TALK to each other! (Photo: Justin Merle)

Plan is for a late start tomorrow, then a short acclimatization hike, and a visit to HRA, the Himalayan Rescue Association.

7 thoughts on “Road to Pheriche

  1. I too offer you my blessings for safe passage…. aren’t you glad for that, too?

    wonderful to share the journey vicariously, thanks for all photos and commentary!

  2. We are all in clinic with Dr. Gottlieb and Yuan thinking of you and missing you. Praying for you whether you want it or not.
    Josette

  3. Dr. P2:
    I continue to pray for you. You’re almost there, keep on smiling and press on one day at a time.
    I bet you would like to know that today was a cold and rainy day in Seattle. It’s still pretty and green, but not as pretty as the majestic mountains in your pictures.
    Your clinic fans say hello.
    We love you and can’t wait to see you back.
    Josette

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