April 8, 1999
The Gompa is home to the Guru Rinpoche who brought Buddhism to Tibet and by extension, to the Sherpa culture. The current Guru Rinpoche is one of a long line of reincarnations going back many centuries. Pete Athans and I have met the current Guru several times on the way into expeditions.
So it feels good to be back here in Base Camp. Everyones excited about our puja, which will take place the day after tomorrow. One lama who will be coming up from Pangboche will give the final blessing to the team. Then well be able to move under his good auspices up to Camp I and well actually send a Sherpa team to Camp II. The monastery burned down about a decade ago after the installation of electricitythe inevitable case of an electric heater left on in the wrong location. After a very successful fund-raising campaignfor which I will refer you to Norbu Tenzing of the American Himalayan Foundation in San Francisco for further details which I do not have to hand at base campthe monastery was rebuilt, and the interior is a very fine example of Buddhist liturgical art.
Download the Thyangboche QTVR panorama (160K).
Download the Namche QTVR panorama (160K).
To the right of the ridge (moraine) is the Khumbu glacier itself. Unlike the popular image of glaciers as glistening white rivers of snow and ice, this one has a granola topping of rocky debris which has fallen down from the surrounding mountains. It is only right at Base Camp, immediately below the Ice Fall that the glacier displays a classical white aspect. I estimate the glacier to be 1,000 to 2,000 feet (305 to 610 meters) thick (assuming the bottom of the glacier has a very shallow slope, and then subtracting the altitude of Tugla below the terminal moraine from the altitude of Base Camp).
To the right of the Khumbu is Nuptse, and if you look carefully you will see a half moon of paler rock pushing up into the darker overlying rock. This is a batholith or pluton of granite that rose up into the overlying sedimentary rocks, cooking them into schists and marbles. The pluton extends the whole way under the Everest massif, and is visible in the Western Cwm where the Khumbu glacier has scraped a gouge through the middle of the original mound of rock. It is possible that the buoyant uplift from the pluton has contributed to Everests height. Moving past Nuptse, the entire lower glacier is visible with several melt water tarns visible (currently frozen over).
At the far end of the glacier you can see a puff of cloud rising over the terminal moraine. This is a dust cloud from the Pheriche valley. This winter has been so dry that everything is very dusty, and indeed forest fires have been burning elsewhere in Nepal, making the atmosphere very hazy except at the highest altitudes. To the right of the terminal moraine are the mountains of Tawoche and Cholatse, with the least snow any of us can remember. Finally at the right hand side of the panorama is the mountain Lobuche East, with a glacier which is rapidly receding back from its most recent terminal moraineperhaps evidence that global warming has reached the high Himalaya.
Charles Corfield (typing in a hurry after a morning trip to through the Ice Fall to Camp I and back).