We awoke this morning to a frosty start at -6 degrees C so it was a case of all layers on at least until the sun worked it’s magic. First stop today, by unanimous vote, was a slight one hour detour to visit Pangboche Monastery. The Monestary is quite small but is the oldest in Nepal and very peaceful with the unique attraction being a scalp and hand from a Yeti on display. Over the years these items have been subject to much controversy with the hand being stolen, a replica being displayed and a finger having been stolen and subject to DNA testing. The local Sherpa people tell a story of a Buddhist monk who lived in a cave in the mountains and made friends with yeti. The yeti would bring food and fuel to the monk and keep him company. One day the yeti went to fetch food for the monk but a huge snow storm happened and the poor yeti perished. The monk was very sad but to honor the yeti he promised to display the yeti’s scalp and bones in the monastery. The mystery of the yeti remains but is much revered in the valley.
From Pangboche, the trail wound it’s way through the pine forest to the river past several Buddhist Stupa and temples. As we climbed up along the river bank the trees started to thin out and the terrain gave way to alpine style meadows with low shrub like vegetation. In fact, we passed the last tree we will see for two weeks as all the high altitude trekking coming up is above the tree line. The trail was quite dramatic often being only a few feet wide and on the edge of a precipitous drop to the raging river swelled by the monsoon rains which have just ended for the year.
Dingboche is a relatively large village in Khumba, located between Pangboche and Chukhung and being above the tree line lacks the greenery of the villages. It sits at the foot of Mt Ama Dablam and the mighty south face of Lhotse and Nuptse ridge which guard the famous Western Cum and the route up to the South Col and the summit ridge of Everest.
At 14,300 feet the nights are freezing cold and the Trekkers are all feeling the altitude and the wear and tear of daily 10 km treks and climbs. But the prize of a visit to Everest Base Camp and scaling Mt. Kala Pathar are within touching distance only a few days away now and that is keeping the morale of the party high.