Snowfall and Prayers in the Khumbu
Yesterday’s afternoon clouds once again dissipated by morning and clear skies greeted us as we left the teahouse this morning. Retracing our steps back up the hill to the Tengboche Monastery, we were able to see the beautiful panorama of the Everest Massif Tengboche is well known for. Leaving the well trodden path that connects Tengboche to Namche, we set off up a small trail headed up the mountainside above Tengboche. We quickly gained elevation, walking past a series of stone chortens connected with strings upon strings of prayer flags put up by the monks. After passing the last chorten the path fell away to a small trail weaving its way up the mountain side, past small cairns and little clusters of hardy juniper. As we climbed so did the clouds, quickly building in the valley below us and enveloping us as we reached our destination - a small white chorten perched on a knoll high on the ridge above Tengboche and the Khumbu Valley. Clearing occassionally, the clouds gave us sporadic glimpses of the winding river below and the glacier capped peaks above.
At an elevation of almost 14,000’ the knoll, declared Tengboche Ri (Tengboche Peak) by our Sherpas, was the perfect place to sit for awhile, allowing our bodies time to get used to the thin air and giving a good boost to the acclimatization process underway as we make our way towards Everest Base Camp. As the clouds continued to grow, we retraced our steps back to Tengboche, pulling into the small bakery there just as occasional snowflakes began to fall. Enjoying a warm cup of tea, we watched the landscape change around us as the snow became thicker and thicker, blanketing everything in a thin layer of white.
The snow continued to fall as we left the bakery and walked over to the Monastery, making ourselves comfortable in the large prayer room at the heart of the Monastery. Soon the monks began filing in, the incense and candles were lit, and the afternoon prayer session began, filling their chamber with the deep rolling chants of their prayers. We observed in silence, relaxing in the ornately decorated room as the monks prayed. It was an amazing experience to sit through: listening to the calming chants in a Monastery deep in the heart of the Himalaya as the snow fell outside.
Returning to the teahouse as the sun finally broke through the clouds, the mountains began to reveal themselves around us, painted in a fresh layer of snow. Today has been a wonderful rest day in Deboche and we are all feeling strong, acclimatizing well, and looking forward to climbing further up the valley to Pheriche tomorrow.
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