Everest Base Camp Trek & Island Peak Climb: Visiting the Tengboche Monastery
The low lying clouds lifted overnight and the landscape was a brilliant white this morning, yesterday’s fresh snow reflecting the morning sun with such intensity we found ourselves squinting when merely sitting near the teahouse windows. Over breakfast we looked out up the valley, across the rhododendron trees and roofs of Deboche all covered in snow, to the summits of Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam above. The winds continued to whip the summits of Everest and Lhotse, both peaks flying long white plumes from their tops.
With a relaxed agenda for the day, we wandered through the trees of Deboche to the small convent here where two of the nuns happily showed us inside of their gompa, doing their best to answer our various questions about the paintings, relics, and scriptures inside. We then climbed back up the hill above our teahouse to the Tengboche Monastery, admiring the panorama around us, with views from Namche all the way up to Everest. Following a small path above the Monastery, we climbed further up the ridge, passing lines of chortens and strings of prayer flags strung by the monks, until we could look down on the buildings below.
With the afternoon clouds already building, we spent a few hours in Tengboche visiting the small museum and outlying buildings of the Monastery, reading, sipping tea, and swapping humorous stories. At three in the afternoon several monks blew their horns from the front terraces of the Monastery, signaling the beginning of afternoon prayers. We quietly removed our shoes and found a seat around the edge of their prayer room, listening to the half dozen monks present recite their prayers, their deep voices rising and descending in unison, pausing occasionally - and all at the exact same instant - to sip their tea before continuing on. The chamber, incredibly decorated with murals, ornate paintings on every surface, and a two-story Buddha surveying the scene below is an overwhelming room, contrasting sharply with the muted colors of the Khumbu. It is also freezing cold and by the time we emerged into a lightly falling snow we were chilled to the bone. We hurried back to our teahouse as the clouds again settled in around us, grabbing our coats, filling our cups with tea, and settling in around the stove when we arrived.
It has been a very relaxing day, offering us the chance for incredible views of the mountains around us, glimpses of the ongoing religious life here, and time for our bodies to continue to acclimatize and adapt to the new elevations before we move up the valley to over 14,000’ tomorrow.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory