Sunday, April 7, 2013

Trek to Debuche

April 7 2013
Myself passing through a rhododendron forest.

Debuche; Elev 12,530 ft. SpO2 = 92  RHR = 72

Four of us set out from Namche this morning, accompanied by Pasang Sherpa.  We settled into a methodic pace under sunny skies, glad to be moving on.  The first hour of trekking traversed a long high hillside, through rhododendron forests with the first pink buds just now opening. There were white pines, juniper, and prickly barberry shrubs. I was listening to an album of Native American cedar flute music on my I-pod, feeling good. Just soaking it up. 

I cannot say enough good things about this trekking trail.  Much of the path is hand-placed stone. When the terrain becomes steep there are typically stairs made of stone. The path is wide enough for Trekkers and pack animals to pass comfortably, and an amazing array of retention walls have been built to maintain what is the only highway up the Khumbu valley. As well, the trail is remarkably clean.  Garbage and recycling bins certainly help to make this so, but more important still is the sense of stewardship shared by the people of the Khumbu Valley and those who visit it. It is a pleasure to walk through this beautiful place.

The trail gained about 1,000 feet of elevation, then descended to a tiny village where we took lunch and filled our water bottles. I enjoyed tomato soup and a yak cheese sandwich. Both were quite tasty. Ty and I treated ourselves with Cokes ($4 each).  We then set out for Tengboche, a hilltop monastery in route to our next lodge in Debuche. 

The path to Tengboche consists of a multitude of switchbacks, gaining 2,000 feet of elevation. One member of our party suffered through each of these. He is only halfway through the bug that has been passing among our corp and probably should have stayed another day in Namche. But, like the rest of us, he was anxious to move on. 

Ty at the Tengboche Monastery
The Tengboche Monastery, is a fort-like feature looking out over the entire valley from its perch at 13,000 feet. It’s entryway is flanked by prayer wheels so large it takes more than one person to turn them. At one point there were four of us working on the same wheel. The ornate facades of the building are contrasted by stone walls made from tablets carved with sacred buddhist teachings. We rested for a bit, but did not have time to investigate further. I hope to do so on my return in late May. 

We descended down to Debuche and the Rivendale Lodge. Ty, who is a huge Lord of The Rings fan, explained the reference to me. I had thought the name was borrowed from the Harry Potter series. But that was Griffindor  ...which is nothing like Rivendale.  I would like to be more excited about this, but never much cared for either series. Sorry. In any event, Rivendale (the actual one), is much nicer than the lodge we stayed in at Namche. We even have an electrical outlet in our room! “Yippee Skippy,” I exclaimed upon discovering it. “Did you just say Yippee Skippy,” Ty asked.  So I guess we are both geeky in our own way, and this is complimentary geekdom is just one part of what makes us a good climbing team. 

Many thanks to the Readers who wrote in with advice on avoiding the various bugs dogging our trek up the Khumbu. As per their recommendations I will avoid those food items likely washed in compromised water, and consume those things cooked to the brink of carbon. I will also continue to develop new means of not using my hands. Sure, I increasingly resemble one of those River Dancers, but some of those who laughed initially are now spending a lot of time in the loo. Suffice it to say they are not laughing now.