Overnight in Monjo, the Sherpa who lost his eyebrows, and other stories

After a quick bite to eat in Lukla, the three of us started off to our first destination, the village on Monjo (about 2800 meters) – if you are slow, and stop for lunch, it is about 5 hours. I found it a bit tough, to be honest, and at times thought to myself “am I in over my head with this whole expedition?”

The lodge we stayed in was very cold – even the main room – and a rather funny scenario then unfolded when the young Sherpa who was tasked to try and start the heater began. His technique was based around opening the hearth door and squirting in kerosene and then blowing on the fire. He then closed the door, and walked away. Unfortunately this didn’t start the fire. He then repeated his previous attempt, this time with a bit more kerosene. No joy; five minutes later, he’s back again, with yet more kerosene (each attempt featured a doubling of the kerosene volume… you know where this is going, don’t you?.

The other guides in the room could see this wasn’t working, and their clients were looking more and more miserable so they decided to get involved. This involved opening the door … and shooting in even more kerosene. Predictably, the first Sherpa was blowing on the flames when with a soft BOOM! Out comes a tongue of flame (and quite a few embers, which go all over the place). He turns around …. and all the "helpers" start laughing and pointing. He had finally lit the fire, but also his eyebrows, which were completely gone! He of course found this as amusing as they did.

Unfortunately I don’t have photos of this event for you. You’ll just have to trust me.