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Everest with Mountain Madness

Tsum Valley Trek 2012 Part 2

Nuns of Rachen Gom­pa. Over 80 nuns live here in total. Deana Zabal­do photo

Tsum Val­ley is a beyul, a sacred Bud­dhist val­ley. Killing is pro­hib­it­ed and small monas­ter­ies abound. Monks and teach­ers from Tibet used to come reg­u­lar­ly to the val­ley, and Bud­dhism has thrived here. In addi­tion to tra­di­tion­al monas­ter­ies, every vil­lage has a lin­eage hold­er (some­times two). A lin­eage hold­er pass­es Bud­dhist teach­ings and scrip­tures down from father to son instead of train­ing some­one else. They hold spe­cial teach­ings and knowl­edge and are revered and respect­ed by the com­mu­ni­ties. In addi­tion, most fam­i­lies send their sec­ond son to a monastery around age 10 to become a monk. Rachen Gom­pa is the largest nun­nery in the area with over 80 nuns. Though fam­i­lies don’t send the girls as a require­ment, many girls choose to become nuns.

Deana Zabal­do photo

Cel­e­brat­ing at 16,700 feet — the bor­der of Nepal and Tibet. Deana Zabal­do photo

Walk­ing through Tsum, the trail is lined with carved prayer stones and tall square chort­ens as it carves up the val­ley beside a crys­tal clear riv­er. Yaks graze in fields, and we move ever clos­er to Tibet. By the time we make a push to the bor­der pass at 16,700 feet, we are beyond the high­est set­tle­ments, where herds of blue sheep roam eas­i­ly and breath­ing is hard. Reach­ing the pass, we are sur­round­ed by moun­tains. We string prayer flags and soak in a sense of accom­plish­ment before head­ing back down to a cold high camp. By the time we’re back in the vil­lages a few days lat­er, every­one is in high spir­its – just in time for a horse festival.

Sky on fire at sun­set. Deana Zabal­do photo

Our days in Tsum have been marked with vis­its to homes and monas­ter­ies, steam­ing cups of salt but­ter tea (more like a soup broth than a tea), teach­ings from the Bud­dhist monks trav­el­ing with us, sun­set med­i­ta­tion, sto­ries of the myth­ic Yeti, and an incred­i­bly gra­cious hos­pi­tal­i­ty from every­one we meet.

Join us for this in-depth cul­tur­al trek in 2013!

~ MM Guide Deana Zabaldo

(excerpt from para​ham​sa​.com)

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Pre­vi­ous Tsum Blog