October 30 Deboche


The elevation at Namche is about 10,000 feet, but the altitude is not affecting me at all yet.  Today's walk starts relatively flat, following the contours around the canyon walls while ascending moderately, then descending sharply to the river, crossing, and then ascending 2000 feet up to the monastery town of Tengboche.  I am beginning to suspect the claim that the climb to Namche would be the hardest of the trip is exaggerated: today's is at least as strenuous.

Trail to Tengboche

The morning walk was pleasant: we enjoyed the sun, continuous views of spectacular peaks all around, and impressive views of the canyon far below.

Yak Traffic Jam

We eventually descended to the bottom, crossed over, and stopped for lunch.

After a good rest, our real work for the day started.  The climb was steep, but we reached Tengboche in just a couple of hours.
River Crossing

The Tengboche monastery is mentioned in most of the Everest expeditions -- it is where people stop to get blessings and prayers for a safe return. It is the largest and most elaborate of the Khumbu monasteries. It is a big building set up on a big pedestal surrounded by smaller buildings where the monks live and work. Inside the main building is a courtyard with windowed galleries where monks eat and spend time. Then up another flight of stairs is another building, where the religious sanctuary is.

The main temple was closed when we visited: there was a film crew with some humongous cameras filming in the courtyard and inside the temple itself. A few minutes later a helicopter landed: evidently it had been filming the mountains up higher. Reinhold Messner strode out of the helicopter and into the monastery: he must be making the film.



Tengboche Monastery


It was getting pretty cold, so instead of waiting around we headed on down the trail another half hour to our next camp site in Deboche.  Again the site was in the pasture next to a guest lodge.  This one had hot showers, which a few of our party took advantage of.  I was feeling pretty clean still, and did not want to get cold and wet. 

Our tents were very spacious Eureka! Four-season expedition tents, with endless vents, zippers, pockets, and so forth.  The only problem is that I had to get on my hands and knees and crawl under the fly to get inside.  Then my hands and knees would be covered with whatever was on the ground: yak dung, mud, or just dirt and grass.  I worked on this problem for while before coming up with an elegant solution: pull the ground pad a foot or so forward, so that I could crawl on the pad rather then the dirt.  Getting in and out was still a chore, but at least I was clean when I got inside.

This became important because here, as elsewhere, we had to share our campground with our yaks.  In this case, the yaks were tied up in a little grove of trees, right beside our toilet tent.  It was really important, when stumbling in the dark looking for the toilet, not to trip over a yak or to get tangled up in its ropes.  The yaks were pretty docile, but all the same they are very large animals, with large sharp horns that look like they could do a lot of damage.

Toilet Tent and Yak Pasture

For the first time on the trip we had real clouds at sunset.  This was spectacular, but it made me worry that the clear weather we had enjoyed so far would be changing.

Sunset at Deboche

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