A bit of life…and death…a Sherpa funeral…three days of a happening! We arrive to be fed tea or local brews – chang or rakshi – in a tented waiting area. Lakpa, our host, is sitting, talking, and laughing with us. To my surprise, he tells me it is his father who died–so typical in this country where life and death are one. A German lady arrives with her Sherpa escort. The lady is building a Sherpa Cultural Center in a monastery above the village. She appears to know it all, yet she has brought her camera equipment. I couldn’t. I am not here to stare but to learn and pay my respects. After tea and chang, we go inside the house. I sit a bit with Alice, a client and new friend, listening to the chanting of orange-clad monks, smelling the incense, and feeling the vibrations of their voices in my stomach, the familiarity of the sound. How can this now be so familiar, this strange Sherpa world? I remember laughing rudely in my first concert of chanting Gyuto monks in America. Now the chants here in the mountains are comfortable, peaceful. Rituals and Rites Lakpa explains what is happening […]
Deciding the best time to hike the Annapurna Circuit is an elimination game. You can rule out December through February–too cold. Take May off the list–too hot. And you certainly don’t want to go in the summer–too wet. June through September is the monsoon season, when as much as 70% of the annual rainfall occurs. This is also when rock fall and landslides are most likely to occur.
The deadly Himalayan blizzard conditions and avalanches caused by Cyclone Hudhud are no stranger to Nepal… “Move the tents,” I told my friend Dawa, “It’s going to pour for two days and we need to set them up so rain and wind won’t wreak havoc.” He looked at me as though I was crazy. “I bet you the pants you’re wearing we are getting a storm,” I taunted. “It’s a bet, Didi,” he replied laughing. The day had been sunny and beautiful, yet suddenly clouds were coming up over the horizon, dark clouds that should not have been there on a day like this or at this time of year. I did not like it. In 1987, I had been caught in a heavy blizzard at 15,000 feet that lasted for more than 36 hours on a route rarely traveled in the Everest region. We ended out having to break trail over two precipitously difficult 17,000-foot passes down to safety below the tree line. Now, as we were just about to head up above the snow line on a side path of the main Annapurna route, the weather looked exactly as it had in 1987. Although fall in Nepal is […]