Avalanche!

Saturday 7th January 2006.

Trek day 5: Namche Bazar to Tengboche

As we neared Tengboche we heard a loud rumble.

Avalanche!

A huge avalanche of snow and ice, perhaps 400 metres wide, thundered down the valley opposite us. We were in no danger whatsoever. We stopped in awe and wonderment, excited by this spectacular display of the powerful forces of nature unleashed in a split second. Despite this we all had the presence of mind to take some excellent photos.

Snow and Dust

The snow start billowing up several hundreds of metres, whipped up by the wind. Soon we were walking in dust around our feet from the path and with snow flakes swirling around our heads from the avalanche. Bizarre! It only lasted a few minutes. Ten minutes later we heard another, smaller avalanche. Amazing! I never even thought about the possibility of an avalanche, and here, we had seen two in the space of ten minutes.

Test of Endurance

In the morning I knew that this walk would take about six hours, the average time for most trekkers. I set a goal of doing it in seven hours. I managed to do it in five and half hours, so I felt a good sense of achievement. Despite that, I acknowledge that I was way beyond what I thought was my level of endurance physically. I was way beyond what I thought I could achieve. On arrival I felt very distressed. Ananta (our guide) gave me some medication, a diuretic tablet, as well as plenty of hot liquids. The hot lemon is very refreshing. After about two hours I had recovered except for some discomfort due to stomach cramps.

I DID IT

The view around here simply awesome with 6000 metre+ peaks all around. The view of Mt Everest shows only the top of the peak. Despite the relatively poor view of Everest, it seems incredible that we are only about 20km from it. We are still at least five days walk from Base Camp. It seems impossible that I have reached this far, and so close to the “Top of the World.” The dreams and aspirations of so many years have, in part, been realised today. I think, on reflection, my distress was in reality total relief that I had made it.

I did it.

I achieved the highest point on this particular trek. The enormity of what I have achieved has not yet fully sunk in. It may take weeks.

Buddhist Monastry

At 4pm the rest of the trekking group went to the nearby monastery to watch the afternoon prayers. This is a Buddhist monastery which is the predominant religion in this region. I found it interesting that so many make a long pilgrimage to this place. Many coming from India for example, would have to travel for two to three weeks, much of it on foot. A sign in the dining room of our lodge is thought provoking: “Prayer is the pillar of religion and the key to paradise.”

Pilgrimage

I was not on a religious pilgrimage as such. Rather, it turned out to be something of a journey of personal discovery. I discovered that I was capable of achieving something way beyond what I had ever imagined. I discovered the true meaning of perseverance. And I also discovered that travel agents’ brochures not only look glossy, their descriptions are also very “glossy”, that is, they gloss over the hard bits.

 

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  1. […] From my travel journal written on the trek. < Leave a comment >   […]

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