October 26, 2009
As we travel through the Khumbu Valley and over our first two mountain passes, each at 17,200 feet, the landscape gets more arid, and we see fewer and fewer people. I enjoy this part of climbing trips, where you leave the common path and start to explore new territory. Cory and I are constantly amazed at how small we can feel while at such a high elevation. The Himalaya is one of the few places where mountains tower over you at almost all times. The two passes we crossed, Renjo La and Cho La, are roughly the height of high camp on Mount McKinley in Alaska, yet we “hike” over them in nothing more than tennis shoes and Downlight sweaters.
Today we arrived in Pangboche, at around 13,000 feet. Pangboche is important to me because it is where Lama Geshe lives. He is the main Buddhist lama who blesses climbers before they head into the mountains. He always has a big smile and he slowly pronounces my name: Maaaalisssssshhhhiiiiaaaa. It makes me laugh, which makes him laugh. He told us today that he sees “very much safety and success for our journey,” and that we must give the mountains a great level of respect because coming home is the most important thing. I have to agree with this.
This is our last night in a teahouse before we head into the mountains and prepare to climb. I am enjoying my tea and Tibetan bread tonight, because tomorrow we will likely be eating ramen noodles. Cory, Chhewang, and I try to avoid the people who seem to have chest colds, and play a few games of Hangman before checking in for the night, filled with excitement about the climb ahead.
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