Celebrations in full swing in the Khumbu

On the afternoon of May 26, Peter, Min and I descended from Kala Patar and rejoined Lloyd and the rest of the crew at a beautiful campsite at Loboche.

Chorten at DingbocheOn the 27th we all trekked together to the village of Dingboche. The weather and the scenery were beautiful as we walked along the high ridge above the village of Pheriche where we had stayed for two nights on the way up to Base Camp. Now, as we descended back to elevations below 15,000 ft., the air seemed thick and rich.

We made it all he way to Ang Temba’s lodge in Pangboche, the Highland Sherpa Resort. We enjoyed conversation with friends returning from an Everest attempt this season, as well as Steve Knoble, from Michigan, who is visiting the Everest Region after six years living in West Nepal helping to develop hospitals.

The conversations with other travelers at the tea shops and lodges along the way are always interesting and meaningful. Travelers in these parts are always full of great tales of adventure and are open, sincere and sharing. As we trekked, Peter and I commented how refreshing it is to have real conversations that have depth with chance acquaintances we meet briefly along the way.

Today, May 28, I said goodbye to Lloyd, Peter and the Sherpas for the day. My plan was to trek quickly to the village of Khumjung with my cameras in order to be present for the unveiling of the statue of Sir Edmund Hillary the Khumjung School, the first “Hillary school”.

I raced the steep trail from Pangboche to Thangboche then all the way down to the river at Phunkatanka and back up to Khumjung. It was a trek that could easily be considered a full day, but I managed to cover the distance in just over two hours, carrying my cameras so that I could record this event. I arrived just after the festivities had begun. Hundreds of Sherpas from the area we there and the air was full of excitement and celebration.

After a couple of hours, I realized that such events worldwide are a time for many people to speak and perform as a lead up to the anticipated event. I took a break for lunch and returned after 1:30 pm to find various officials still speaking. The best parts were the dances performed by children from each of the eight levels at the Hillary School.

In preparation for the unveiling of the Hillary statueI knew that I did not have the stamina to wait until the statue was finally unveiled however, so I continued on to Namche.

When I walked into Namche, all my friends were talking about the helicopter accident at Base Camp. As Peter, Lloyd and I have trekked these past days, the helicopters have been overhead almost constantly and it is sad, but not a surprise to hear of today’s mishap.

At the cybercafe in Namche, we checked the web for late breaking news and my Sherpa friends spoke fondly and sadly of those who were lost today.

Now I will return to Tangboche to rejoin the group. When I walked past the monastery this morning, the final construction of the tents and banners – which are being prepared for tomorrow’s celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest – was underway. There were few people, other than monks around however.

Monks celebratingI know when I return this evening it will be very different however. Hundreds and hundreds of people will be arriving. Sherpas, climbers, trekkers… somewhere in the mass of people I hope to easily find the BAI tents and our little party, still in the midst of a fascinating, challenging and constantly surprising adventure in the Khumbu.

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