Thame, with Sagamartha Lodge on the far left.
In Thame we visit the monastery up-hill and have a view at the main North valley towards Tibet, the main trade route to Tibet from the Everest Region. This reminds me of photographs given to me in Holland by Louise for delivery. She traveled up this valley to Tibet illegally in the early nineties and called the crossing of the 5716 meter high Nangpa La pass to Tibet the most tiring journey of her life.
Yesterday we crossed the Trashi Labse Pass of 5856 m, from the Rolwaling Valley into the Everest Region but we were here for mountain climbing and should have camped at the pass to climb the 6200 m high Parchamo Peak. However, 3 out of 8 decided to leave early as we did not feel too well to sleep at that altitude.
I met Louise in a neighborhood photo shop in Amsterdam on the day I left. On hearing I needed batteries for high altitude photography in Nepal she asked me if I would pass through Thame and after some though confirmed this.
She also told me of a female friend who spent 6 months in Dolpo and at the end of the period did a three week trek with her boy-friend that came over for this before moving back to Holland. One morning, somewhere above 4000 meters altitude, she suddenly collapsed and was dead. Cause of death unknown. Her friends still meet regularly but no one knows how to deal with the sudden death. She asked me for suggestions on possible rational causes. I suggest a combination of exhaustion and high altitude, possibly affecting the heart but do not know either. People in poor health condition are know to die suddenly at high altitude.
The photographs I would deliver are portraits of Pempote and her family, the female owner of the Sagamartha Lodge in Thame where Louise stayed for a few weeks. The photographs are of large size and of good quality. She never got an answer after sending them and assumed they never arrived.
The lodge has no sign and is now closed for tourists but Apa Sherpa shows me the nearby house in the middle of Thame. During lunch I try a visit and the door is opened by a reluctant Pempote. After showing the photographs, she insists on coming inside and invites me for a traditional Dahl Bat lunch. Her lodge is a traditional Sherpa lodge with Tibetan carpets and large copper colored storage pots. She apologizes that she has a severe toothache and will see the traveling group of dentists tomorrow I already met in my lodge.
Her husband and two of the oldest children on the pictures are in Katmandu, in the trekking business she tells me, and only her two youngest daughters are at home. She is very emotional seeing pictures of seven years ago and I sense a lot has happened since.
It is very quiet and cold inside when she leave me waiting for a while and I look around at various pictures on a wooden pillar. I do not see any of the pictures of Louise on the wall so she probably never received them.
Getting involved in the private life of this Sherpa family gives me disturbed feelings. They do not look like happy family but merely survive.