Yesterday was a great trekking day. We departed Kyanjuma bidding farewell to Tashi and Lakpa and trekked up to Khumjung where there are the most amazing mani walls.
The trail steadily gains height to a small col where we then dropped down to the tiny airstrip at Syangboche, above Namche.
After a well earned tea break we carried on down and picked up the trail through the woods to Thamo. This valley has a completely different feel to the Gokyo and Khumbu valleys and the trail is gently undulating in the most amazing forested area.
We stopped in Thamo for lunch before continuing to Thame which is at around 3,800m where we are now spending 2 nights. It was also the day that we met up with our final team member, Ilina from Macedonia, who trekked in a day behind us. It's great that we are now a full complement.
That was yesterday - today has been a most auspicious day. Unbeknownst to us there was going to be a very special puja taking place at the monastery above Thame. It's a fantastic monastery in the most amazing setting sitting high on the hill side and almost built in to the hillside.
We mooched up to the monastery, which is situated at around 4,000m, and were able to attend the most amazing spectacle of horn and trumpet blowing, bell clanging, drum beating and chanting.
Usually a spontaneous puja when you arrive at a monastery will be conducted by one monk who happens to be around at the time. It is always a great intimate affair and generally lasts around 30 to 45 minutes.
This one was being conducted by 35 monks and lasted for around 3 hours! Although it was a general puja we were accepted in to the monastery as well and blessed individually by the head monk.
I've only happened upon one of these big pujas before - which happened to be at The Rongbuk Monastery on our 20005 Everest Expedition on the North side. To witness one again, especially bearing in mind what we are here for, was a fantastic event.
This afternoon we have had a chat about altitude and acclimatisation, AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Oedema), HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema) and the importance of hydration. The team are starting to refresh their knowledge about how to avoid problems associated with ultra high altitude mountaineering and how to deal with any problems that may occur. They are really starting to look out for each other already. This is definitely a positive aspect of trekking together as a team, away from the hustle and bustle, where folk start to morph together in to a team. Having a disparate group of competitive individuals accomplishes very little and indeed can undermine the safety of the expedition as people become competitive with each other as well as with the mountain. Having a group who help each other along the way, however, is mutually beneficial to the expedition and makes for a far safer experience all round.
From here we will be heading up the Thame valley for the next few days before heading on up and over the Renjo La. We'll be having our first night under canvas below the pass as part of our acclimatisation before going up and over to Gokyo. I guess that reception will be very limited so this may well be our last proper update for a while.
Remember to check our progress on Twitter (timmosedale) and FaceBook (tim.mosedale) as I'll be able to text updates when we get sporadic signal.
That's all for now but just a final word to say many thanks for all the well wishes and texts that have been coming in - it's nice to know that you guys and gals are following our progress and rooting for us.