We awoke this morning in Tengboche to clear blue skies affording us a spectacular view of Mt. Everest from our rooms. Our morning ritual of hot tea and washing water brought by our awesome Sherpa Guides helped to motivate us out of our warm beds. Exiting our home for the night, the Hotel Himalayan, we were able to get our first look at the town of Tengboche, which was enshrouded in fog the evening before.
We hit the trail around 8am and entered an enchanted forest, full of rhododendrons on the cusp of blooming. Several pleasant hours passed, mostly quiet as we all focused on breathing above 13,000 feet. The highlight was a sighting of the endangered alpine musk deer, grinding us all to a halt with a quick scramble for cameras.
In Pangboche, we participated in a climbers' ritual of visiting Lama Geshe for a blessing, supposedly the second most holy Lama after the Dali Lama. We all received a special scarf, known as a kata, which was placed around our necks by the Lama. In addition to the kata, the blessing was completed with the tying of a gold string around our necks and receiving a prayer. We were also fortunate enough to meet Phunuru Sherpa, a renowned local Everest climber who will be running the IMG Base Camp this year.
After about an hour on the trail, we were treated to a delightful lunch with views of Mt. Amadablam. We indulged in our favorite trail drink, hot mango, as well as momos, fried rice, and some excellent Khumbu fries. No one turned down seconds.
We were all relieved that much of the remainder of the trek was flat-ish, with the exception of one last hill before arriving at Pheriche. This is a special town for several of our Everest ER docs, having worked at the medical clinic here in the past.
Lulu Didi (Dr. Freer) presented a very-relevant talk on cold injuries with some photos that probably shouldn't have been shown before our much-anticipated dinner. Afterwards, once again the trekkers and Sherpas came together for some Uno and "Shithead" card games.
We'll spend our first night at approximately 14,000 feet, a record altitude for many of our group members. We'll all be hoping for a good night's sleep in advance of our 1,000 meter acclimatization hike planned for tomorrow.