Mt Everest Trek: Day six

By Ian Connellan November 7, 2013
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A climb to a peaceful monastery inspires AG’s editor to ruminate on the spiritual.

Read more about the AG Society supported Ama Dablam Everest Trek in Nepal, run by World Expeditions.

I’m awake after a wonderful sleep feeling miraculously better. Breakfast is appetising and the thought of the day’s walk is nothing but pleasant. Looks like I’m acclimatising.

Read about artificial glaciers in the high Himalayan desert

We set out, and with each step away from Namche, views are improving of Ama Dablam, Everest, Nupste, Lhotse and our main waypoint for the day – Tengboche Monastery. There’s an ethereal quality to this space, it seems the perfect place for quiet contemplation.

The track is wonderfully well-made — its steepest sections reinforced with neat stonework. The valley is deep and cool and shady, its tempo kept by the rushing of glacial water. 6608-metre Thamserku rears above us, rising from the Dudh Koshi up pine-forested spurs to iced-up khola (creeks), which meld into glaciers that cling to the base of rocky spires. It can’t be 3 km in altitude to the top of that peak, I think to myself.

We stop for a break at Kenjoma, where local crafts and jewellery are arrayed on purple cloth spread atop a wide stone fence. A few bargains are snapped up. From here we descend steadily to the Dudh Koshi, then start the 2-hour climb to Tengboche Monastery, the oldest monastery in the Khumbu Valley. We share the trail with other trekkers, monks, yak and mule trains and porters. We enter Tengboche through a richly decorated gate that’s lined with prayer wheels. The monastery temple is wooden and richly carved. It’s cool and incense burns and swirls around seated, robed, chanting monks. When their cycle of chants is completed there’s a sudden silence and then the monks reach for steaming cups and drink; a young novice monk refills the empties from a large, thermos-like urn.

From the monastery it’s a short walk downhill to our campsite in Deboche. I trundle along with Lincoln, our leader and a dedicated Bhuddist for many years, and try to fit my Christian-philosophy-inured head around the ideas of Bhudda, another great spiritual leader.