I got an early start out of Tengboche and promptly starting hiking down the wrong trail out of town. I was quickly corrected by some of the ever-friendly locals and carried on down the ridge. The trail descended to the milky white river at the bottom of the valley, where I was able to get a good look at a solitary male tahr and at Ama Dablalm, the 6,812 meter peak framed perfectly at the end of the narrow valley. Along the way I got stuck behind a porter with the biggest load of stuff on his back I had seen yet. It turned out to be empty plastic bottles, which apparently are shipped up to villages along the trail, filled with locally purified water, and sold at very high prices (up to $4.50 per bottle) to trekkers in lodges and restaurants. Shortly after this I saw my first red-billed chough, a curious looking member of the crow family with a bright red beak and similarly colored legs.
I ended up arriving at my destination of Dingboche quite early in the day. Because of the rapid gain in elevation it is necessary to undertake fairly short hikes as you move higher in order to let your body acclimatize and avoid AMS – Acute Mountain Sickness – a potentially deadly affliction. We learned a few days later that a lot of the helicopter traffic in the valley wasn’t actually sightseeing tours, but rather emergency medical evacuations for hikers with AMS. With a price tag of $7000 for one of these short flights we were careful not to overdo it. I checked in to what turned out to be a rather unappealing guesthouse in Dingboche, with unusually unfriendly and unhelpful staff and did a day hike up the ridge beside town before returning back down to town in the afternoon for supper.