Khumjung to Tengboche

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We left Khumjung and headed to Tengboche. It is at about the same elevation as Khumjung but on the opposite side of the river, so we descended about 2,000 ft. to the river, crossed it, then switchbacked up a steep ridge to get there.

Every day the cook crew would cook us lunch; the stop would last up to two hours. The pace was leisurely, since one needs to gain elevation gradually, our days were never all that arduous. On this day we had lunch near the river, in the back yard of a small home along the trail.

At this particular house, the owners were working on putting in fuel for cooking and heating. In addition to firewood, they were drying yak dung on the shed behind the house. The process is simple: you make a flat pancake of yak dung, and slap it on the side of the building to let it dry. When it is thoroughly dry, you peel it off and stack it inside the shed. It actually burns pretty well and dries to a nice light form, easy to store and transport. Before the trip was over, we had many occasions to settle in and warm ourselves by yak dung fires in wood stoves in various lodges. It’s not as disgusting as it sounds.

Tengboche is the site of the most famous monastery in the region. When I was there in 1990, it had just burned down. It has now been rebuilt. It is famous for its view of Everest, but that view was not to be had when we finally reached the top of the ridge. We were clouded in with a cold breeze; shortly thereafter the snow started. One had to be careful not to get lost in the whiteout when walking around the area. However, we didn’t have much trouble finding our way to the bakery next to our camp — and it was Michele’s 39th birthday, so we celebrated with cake.

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