Everest / Alpine Expeditions

Return To Everest Update 2 April: Scott Parazynski: Puja Ceremony in Pangboche, Trek to Pheriche, Farewell to Greenery

By Keith Cowing
Scott Parazynski
April 2, 2009
Return To Everest Update 2 April: Scott Parazynski: Puja Ceremony in Pangboche, Trek to Pheriche, Farewell to Greenery
Prayer flags above the Khmubu
Scott Parazynski

Yesterday was a day of remarkable transitions and cultural awakenings. We left our comfortable tea house and lodge in Tengboche early in the morning, such that we all could meet with the senior Lama (Abbott) of the Pangboche Monastery, several miles and feet up the trail. Leaving the dense pine forrest of the Tengboche plateau behind, we traveled through wind-blown juniper to the paradise of Pangboche — there even was a sign that said “Paradise Lodge” along the trail, and judgiing from the God’s Eye view of Ama Dablam across the valley, the sign might just be correct.

Tengboche Monastery, Ama Everest

The Lama was a genial 70-ish monk dressed in characteristic red robes, and he kindly greeted us in his personal quarters. Quick with a smile and laugh, he began reciting Buddhist prayers once we’d all been seated and received a cup of tea. Via translator, he blessed all of our journeys: those to the summit of Everest, others to the summit of Lobuche, and still others headed to the top of Island Peak. For Everest summit aspirants, he had a special blessing, which he wrote by hand on a card, with instructions to take to the Top of the World, take a photo, and then send the photo back to him — there were several amazing photos on the walls from those who had followed his instructions. We each received a kata — a silk scarf — and a cord, which he tied around our necks for good luck. He then pulled us down by the kata and gave us a gentle head bump, followed by smiles and lots of laughter!

Ama Dablam from Tengboche

Following lunch in Pangboche, we really transitioned biomes, walking onto trails cut through tan tundra, up and over a ridge to the small village of Pheriche. I was back in the mountains for real now, and it felt great: the wind had kicked up, and the temperatures were a crisp 10 deg F cooler than below. My new friend from the trek, Dave Bakker, an artist and generally very observant guy, quipped: “walking into Pheriche is like walking into a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western: the wind is howling, the dogs are braying, and you half expect a cowboy to step out of a doorway along the tomostly deserted streets.” Instead of cattle or horses wandering untended along the streets, you’ll meet with an occasional yak, and towering mountains rim the valley as opposed to the buttes of the desert southwest — but a very apt description overall.

Lama Puja

I’m in one of the world’s highest internet cafes, sitting next to Knoxville opthalmologist and trekker Les Cunningham*, hacking out the last of my reports for a few days. Ang Jangbu, owner of Beyul and IMG’s partner in Nepal, is heading up to Everest Base Camp today, where he’ll test our satellite data link, BGAN. I won’t have access to this system until my arrival in a few days time, but you can certainly follow along via my trusty SPOT unit: Lobuche tomorrow, for 2 nights, then to Gorak Shep, and then to EBC (arrival April 6 or thereabouts).

  • One of my favorite down-home quotes from Les: “I’m eating like I’m going to the electric chair.”

Thanks for following along!

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻