3:00 P.M. local time (5:15 A.M. EDT)
Tengboche is like a lone Cheerio lying at the center of a milky bowl. Low clouds surround us, and at times it's difficult to see what's directly in front of us. After a week and a half of cold and snow, we were looking forward to the lower elevations for some sunshine. After all, when are we supposed to work on those tans? Anyway, were we wrong. Again.
We awoke this morning in Pangboche to fresh snow. Surprise. About an inch covered the cedars and junipers, whose laden branches didn't have any problem dropping several sizable loads on my head as we headed up the trail.
|Dave and Mike enjoy the luxury accommodations of a teahouse in Pangboche—two bunks, plywood, and a view of the mountains.|
Speaking of trail. We had to be extremely careful today. The rocks were treacherous and mud made the way sloppy. Put it this way, the mud was as deep as the snow in most places. But what can you expect when you're sharing the trail with other trekkers, porters carrying one-hundred-pound loads, and of course, the ever-present yak teams? We wanted an adventure, and we got one. As Mike said the other night, it's like every day is a chapter in an adventure story. Something right out of Lord of the Rings, where, with the rising of the sun, you never know what's in store for you.
But hey, isn't that what adventure's about?
Of course, we made it across a couple of those really nasty suspension bridges, too. One such bridge is made of old boards and wire. Some of the boards have holes in them. Some don't. You just have to step around those that look brittle. Your task is to choose wisely. Obviously I did.
If I can backtrack a bit…before we got going this morning, we had another surprise. Our guide, Nawanz, was REALLY sick. Between coughs, he assured us that he could make our destination. The cough was bad. I mean tuberculosis bad. We had been giving him Advil for two days, but that had about reached its limit of cure. Mike and I thought long and hard about hiring another yak driver, but we didn't know if we'd also have to hire three more yaks. And just how DO you expense those yak charges to TechRepublic anyway?
Dilemma resolved. Nawanz took Mike's advice and sought medical treatment from the local aid station in Pangboche. He joined us later here in Tengboche looking better already. But I don't know how, because the last section of trail prior to entering this village is the worse stretch of trail you could ever ask for. Let me illustrate.
You're a bit tired from the walk through the dripping cedars, up muddy hills, and over treacherous rocks. Then you see it. Up ahead. A 45-degree slope. A large 45 degree slope. One that extends upwards for about 500 feet. And it's solid mud. Riverlettes of brown water flow everywhere. Diverging here, coming together there, cascading, pooling, and finally wrapping around your boots. Uh huh. We were going to earn Tengboche.
We used our trekking poles like ice axes, digging them in as far as they would go in order to gain a hold. Then, lifting each foot just a little (to make sure we weren't going to end up face first on the side of the hill), we moved forward. After 20 or so feet, it was a treat to be rewarded with a stone to brace against. But no time for relaxing. Here came that yak team. Slip sliding away they went, right by us. I don't know who looked more disturbed, the yaks or us. Either way, we had to move forward. And the slope was getting even slipperier.
With more feet leaving tracks ahead of us, our foot purchases were getting farther and farther apart. One duck-step at a time, one toe-purchase in front of the other, but finally we made the top. Good thing. Much farther, and we were going to look for the crampons. We earned Tengboche, baby!
There's a beautiful monastery here. At 4:00 P.M. local time, they open the ancient building for tours. Mike and I are going. They also blow the huge, ceremonial horns. I'm looking so forward to this. Mike will fill you in on the specifics later, I'm sure. So stay tuned folks.
The wild ride continues.
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David Bard has been a fixture at TechRepublic for some time now. At one time he was editor in chief of LinuxRepublic and then AdminRepublic. Currently, he occupies space as an editor in chief with TechProGuild. In addition, he’s a freelance writer who has covered extreme sports for years. He also is a writer of horror and—contrary to what his climbing partner may think—is hoping the expedition to Nepal doesn’t provide fodder for his next story. When he’s not at home teaching his year-and-a-half-old daughter why it’s not a good idea to eat rocks, or trying to convince his wife why yet another expedition really is necessary, he’s usually off in some remote section of woods trying to discover himself. He’s still looking.