As we continue our ascent to the higher regions, the planned rest day in Dingboche is used to assist with acclimatision and also allows us to push higher during the day, and return, to expose us to even higher altitude and further assist with acclimatision. Our lodge, The Sonam Friendship Lodge is situated at 14,250ft and our acclimatision hike will take us to 15,250ft directly up the mountain behind our lodge.
Overnight temperatures plummet with a thick layer of ice forming on the inside of our room windows. Thankfully we have a relatively leisurely start to the day with our hike starting at 9am. It’s a slow but rewarding climb as we soak up views of the now familiar Ama Dablam and the mighty Lhotse but also we get our first good look at Island Peak.
As we move slowly up the climb we pass the familiar Stupas and Prayer Flags that are central to Tibetan culture. Traditionally, prayer flags come in sets of five, one in each of five colors. The five colors are arranged from left to right or from top to bottom in a specific order blue, white, red, green, and yellow. The five colors represent the five elements. Different elements are associated with different colors for specific traditions and purposes. Blue symbolizes the sky and space, white symbolizes the air and wind, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes earth. According to traditional Tibetan medicine, health and harmony are produced through the balance of the five elements. They are placed at high points be it on a mountain summit or ridge, atop of a home or building and always on and around a Stupa.
Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather the Tibetan people believe the prayers and mantras that are inscribed on the flags will be blown by the wind to spread the goodwill and compassion into all pervading space. For a traveller, they add life, colour and music as they flutter peacefully in the wind.
Tomorrow we pack up and head to Lobuche and the following day onwards through Everest base camp. Meanwhile this afternoon we are off to the local movie theatre to watch …. Everest!