National Geographic : 1992 Dec
am climbing for Solu pride too," he told me at Base Camp. When Sherap and I arrived at his house, his 22-year-old wife, Ang Chopka, seated us in the places of honor near the fire and fixed Tibetan tea, a pungent mixture of tea, butter, and salt. She was in constant motion. She boiled potatoes and warmed a pot of chang, urging it gently on her guests with the words, "Shay, shay-Please, please," filling the cup three times as is customary. Soon the house was filled. Chamji Sherpa, mother of climber Nima Gyalzen, on the sup port team, and two neighbor women arrived. I asked them how the women coped when left behind for months at a time. "If someone dies in the village, there is no one to carry the body," Chamji told me, "but now that the planting is done, we just sit around and sunbathe." She giggled. Chamji offered us some rakshi, a distilled liquor she had made from rice. "The son goes off to the mountain and we drink," she added with a touch of melancholy. Shortly the rakshi took root. Chamji surveyed the male visitors, stood and swayed: "We could have a dance." "If we teach our children pride in Sherpa cul ture, perhaps we can save what is important," says the head lama of the Tengboche Monas tery (below). Monks mold Tsering Dorje (right), believed to be the reincarnation of a lama who died a decade ago.