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Title image - BAI takes you to: Everest Basecamp
Why climb with Berg Adventures

Leo Power Everest Marathon Dispatch

May 19, 2011 – Thame, Nepal 3820m/12,540ft

Breakfast was a large portion of Swiss rosti topped with 2 fried eggs which, according to Panorama lodge owner Shareb, is the favourite breakfast of Wally Berg- I now know why.

Murals line the trail on the way to Thame

Murals line the trail on the way to Thame

A young American man named Nick was also staying at our lodge, fresh from a solo trek in the Himalaya. Nick had joined the marines straight out of high school, was stationed in Iraq, and quit the Marines after 4 years of service. He told Shareb the day he enlisted he arrived home to find his mother had kicked him out of the family home. He now resides in Colorado and works in a Nepalese restaurant, but this morning just received confirmation he has been accepted for university in the US and so he was quite elated at the positive turn in his life.

Shareb, as is custom throughout the Khumbu region, presented Nick, as he prepared to depart to return to the US, with a good luck ceremonial silk scarf called a "kata" bearing woven images of the eight lucky Buddhist symbols.

We departed shortly thereafter for the next stage of our trek and met 25+ young school children happily walking up a massive stone trail, en route to school. Most exchanged the Namaste greeting with me and it was touching to see them clasp both hands together as if in prayer while exchanging the greeting. They were all sharply attired in school uniforms and many agreed to allow me to photograph and video them so I will have some great memories of this morning.

We wandered slowly through to the western side of Namche and stopped at the Monastery perched on a ledge. I paid 100 rupees to tour the monastery and to read the interesting history of Himalayan Buddhism and the Sherpa people. We then passed by a helicopter dirt landing pad which was directly adjacent to a stone quarry.

Beautiful rhododendrons in bloom

Beautiful rhododendrons in bloom

I saw huge quantities of red and white rhododendrons, irises, birch and fir trees, juniper trees and forests of pine trees, a tree nursery which I was proud to read on a plaque, was funded by the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation of Canada in 1984 and Canadians continues to provide annual support for this important initiative. Apparently with the increase in tourism came deforestation in some areas as increased quantities of trees were cut for heating the main room in guest lodges (I can attest to the fact there is no heating in the bedrooms, at least in the lodges I have stayed in!). Today solar power, mini hydro projects and limits on tree cutting has helped remedy the problem.

I've also noticed it's not only the benevolence of Canadians that has been assisting the local population- the Swiss and Austrians have generously provided assistance during the past few decades, especially with bridge construction and mini hydro projects, and there's plenty of tangible evidence of the good works provided by the Italians, Germans, Chinese, Japanese, British, Americans and other nationalities.

I saw musk deer for the first time which is illegally hunted for its musk, produced by a gland in the male and used for making perfume. I also noted patties of fresh yak dung clinging to stone walls- apparently once the patties have dried and fallen to the ground they are then sufficiently seasoned to serve as fuel in the stoves in the main rooms of the lodges and the homes of locals. Tonight as I was ordering dinner at our lodge in Thame the fragrance from the stove is indeed yak dung so my appetite quickly abated, maybe not so much because of the odour but simply the thought of dining ten feet from the stove!

We passed through the village of Thamo and the old Khumbu Bijuli hydroelectric project which was destroyed in 1985 by flooding. We viewed enormous murals on what seemed like 1,000ft high steep, flat cliffs with the Bhote Kosi River flowing quite fast through a narrow opening and the effects of erosion on the rocks was striking and again I have some excellent photos and video.

The villages never cease to impress with the attractive and solidly constructed homes and lodges, the immaculate fields, the wild flowers and trees, the well dressed people, all as beautiful as any Italian hill village I've been in during travels in Italy.

As we reached our destination for the night, Valley View Lodge in Thame, I saw the famed yak for the first time. A Yak is a pure-blooded, long-haired bull and the females are nak. Up until now the animals I thought were Yaks are actually dzopkyo, the offspring of pure-blood yaks bred with cows or Tibetan bulls.

Spectacular peaks provide an incredible scene outside Valley View Lodge

Spectacular peaks provide an incredible scene

outside Valley View Lodge

The Valley View Lodge is owned by a Sherpa Dr. Kami Temba and his wife Da Doma Sherpa. Dr. Kami Temba is the Doctor at Khunde hospital which we will trek to tomorrow and the good doctor will check the level of oxygen in my blood and my overall fitness level. Dr. Kami and Da Doma have two daughters and a son. Their son, Wandgi Sherpa, graduated from medical school in Kathmandu three years ago, worked with his dad at Kunde Hospital for a couple of years and is now working and studying in Kathmandu and wishes to pursue Internal Medicine. Their daughter Yanzi Doma Sherpa is studying at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and will complete a Masters in Environmental Science this year. Their youngest daughter Da Futi is starting Grade 11 this year and wants to pursue a degree in Business and then she wishes to become a Chartered Accountant.

When I entered our lodge a soft spoken gentlemen, artist Passang N. Sherpa, a good friend of Wally Berg, was waiting to meet me. We were introduced and over the course of an hour's discussion he told me about an expedition climb he was part of some 30 years ago. The climb was to Cho Oyu (8,201m/26,906ft) but Passang was seriously frost bitten and lost four fingers and his thumb on the left hand and he lost half of each finger and half of his thumb on the right hand. With classic Sherpa resilience and determination and a natural inclination for self reliance this man turned to painting and has produced beautiful works of art. He showed photos of his work and will return tomorrow at 7 am with samples of his work. He lives in nearby Thame Ting, a 20-minute trek from our lodge.

Tonight I sleep in a room directly adjacent to a field with four yaks grazing away!


– Leo Power