4/4/2007

Pangboche
April 4, 2007

Namaste:

I suffered my first setback in Namche Bazaar when I came down with altitude sickness on our rest day. The sight of food caused my stomach to do turn flips. Dan Mazur, our trip leader, thinks this might have been caused by the two large pizzas Mark and I ate upon arrival in Namche. The end result is that I couldn’t eat for 1-1/2 days. I wasn’t too concerned because this is a common ailment at high altitude. Other than the stomach problem, I felt great—no headache, shortness of breath or any of the more serious problems caused by altitude. The trek from Namche (11,300 feet) to Pangboche (12,700 feet) was very difficult, with lots of ups and downs. Since I was climbing with no fuel in
my tank, the trek was even more difficult for me. By the time I arrived in Pangboche, I felt much better with the additional time for acclimatization. Last night, I ate almost a full dinner. I had the best sleep of the trip, and woke up this morning feeling great. I almost have my full appetite back. As I type this report, I am eating a hot bowl of chicken soup, just like home.

Today, we attended a Puja, which is a Buddhist Prayer Ceremony, led by a Lama, which is a Buddhist Priest. It was very interesting. He was a kindly, elderly man with a friendly, warm demeanor and an easy laugh. When he asked the age of Mark and me, he laughed because he had to look up an appropriate prayer for person of our age. We each presented him with a scarf (with 500 rupees wrapped inside the scarf). He opened the scarf and let the money fall out. He then blessed the scarf, said a prayer and put
the scarf around our neck. I checked this out before the trip with my retired and senior pastor (who is also a beloved friend), and he suggested some ideas that allowed me to honor this tradition, while at the same time respecting and honoring my faith. During the ceremony, I wore a cross that was given to my wife, Sharon, by my granddaughter, Bailey.

The children in these mountain villages are educated through grade 3, and they are trying to increase this to grade 6. There is a high school in Kunde, which is just above Namche Bazaar. Those children with relatives in Namche, and the means to finance an education, can attend this high school. There is only one hospital, which is in Kunde, which makes it difficult for the people in these villages to receive appropriate health care.

Today, we trek to Pheriche, which is an easy climb—only about 1-1/2 hours. In fact, the rest of the trek to Base Camp (5 more days) is a moderate climb.

Thanks for your continued prayers and support.

Bill Burke
Two photos have been posted under “My Everest Photos”. Also, Dan Mazur has posted 3 dispatches on the Everest news website.
http://www.everestnews.com/summitclimb/everestsouth2007d.htm