April 12, 2009
Namaste and Happy Easter:
Today was my favorite day of the trip.
Bud, Puchhanga and I started with a short Easter Communion Service in the room while Mingma, who is a Buddhist, looked on respectfully. At the end of the day, Mingma, Dawa Steven and other members of the Asian Trekking group attended a Buddhist ceremony at the Monastery in Tengboche, while we observed respectfully. These services, together with my first look at Mt. Everest, made for a very spiritual day.
After breakfast, we moved from Namche Bazaar (11,200 feet) to Tengboche (12,700 feet). The weather was perfect, and I felt really strong for the entire climb. Just above Namche, we got our first look at Mt. Everest. The view was spectacular as the sky was completely clear of clouds. We could see the plume of snow and ice blowing off the summit, carried east by the jet stream for miles. Every time I see Mt. Everest for the first time on these trips, I am filled with awe and wonder. I focus on the spot just 100 meters from the summit where I turned around in 2007, and I can’t believe I was that close to the top of the world. This year, I hope to make it all the way.
The team reunited in Tengboche, and everyone is doing really well. Tomorrow, we will move to Dengboche, and we will stay in Dengboche for two days. Then, we will move to Pangboche and will stay in Pangboche for two days. From Pangboche, we will complete the trek to Base Camp.
The loads carried by the porters up the mountain are amazing. On the trek to Namache Bazaar, we saw porters carrying steel pipes on their back weighing 210 pounds each. Today, I saw a group of porters each carrying 10-12 three by four wood beams up the steep path to Tengboche. These porters are paid about $12.50 per day to do this back breaking work.
April 13, 2009
We have had a change of plans. Bud and I decided to stay in Pheriche for two days, rather than Dengboche, where the rest of the group is staying. Will Cross is also staying in Pheriche. We decided to stay in Pheriche because they just built a new lodge-The Himalayan Hotel-that is really first class-good food, a warm dining room, hot showers, toilet facilities and all the comforts of life (although I’m still looking for the spa, pool and health club). I also prefer Pheiche because this is where I rested for several days in 2007 before making my trip up the mountain, bound for the summit. Pheriche is also where my trip ended in 2008 because of illness.
On the trek to Pheriche, some of us visited the Monastery in Pangboche. After visiting the Monastery, Dawa Steven took us to the home of Lama Geyshe, where we had a Puja-my second of the trip. This was the same Lama who administered the Puja for me in 2007. I recognized his friendly, grandfatherly demeanor and hearty laugh immediately. According to Dawa Steven, Lama Geyshe, who is 77-years old, is one of the wisest and most beloved and respected Lamas in the Khumbu region.
After the Puja ceremony, Lama Geyshe carried on an extended conversation in the Sherpa language with Dawa Steven, Pertemba and Mingma. Translated by Dawa Sherpa, Lama Geyshe said that, despite America’s problems and mistakes, it is a good country and offers to the world the best hope for lasting peace, security and prosperity. I believe that to the core of my being, but it was nice to hear it from a wise man in a foreign land. Winston Churchill once said that “Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing…..after they have tried everything else.” I close on that humorous note.