from Namche to Thyangboche
of the Khumbu
that got us there
Everybody talks about the "big Namche" hill as being the tough one, but for me it's the Thyangboche hill. You drop way down to say 10,500 feet to cross the Dudh Kosi one more time, then have to gain more than 2,000 feet of elevation up to the monastery. The trail works up through the pine forest from the river, relentlessly steep and long as it angles upward. I get real lucky and see a tahr, a wild Himalayan goat with peculiar curved horns, standing on a rock watching me go by, and shortly after that an incredible wild peacock bobbing through the undergrowth. All this was just beyond funky Phunki Tenga, a village known for its multiple water-wheel-powered prayer wheels.
I've been reading about Thyangboche ever since I was a kid, but my arrival here after all these years is a let-down. The weather's been overcast all day, depressing, a gray cloud laden with rain, but by the time I arrive on the ridge there's a full-on white-out that soon turns to an energetic snowstorm. So much for the famous view.
Nobody wants to camp in the crummy weather, so we're back in a tea house. The antidote to the bummer afternoon costs 180 rupees and comes in a bottle: San Miguel beer, carried laboriously by somebody or somebody's yak up from Kathmandu. We gather around the stove and drink and tell stories. There's an Australian woman staying at the tea house who talks really loudly to her Sherpa guide and anyone else who'll listen, and an American woman on her way back to Kathmandu. They eye us suspiciously as our kitchen staff brings us snacks cheese, crackers, a big bag of pistachios. Nobody is unfriendly, it's just that it takes too much energy to make pals out of everybody. The parallel conversations continue on opposites sides of the room.