We were invited to sit in the kitchen while waiting for breakfast. Cooking was done on a semi-open fire, and surprisingly there seemed to be little smoke from the wood used. It was a cheery sight, and though a bit wasteful of wood the blaze got the breakfast ready fast.
The path crossed landslides triggered by the 2015 earthquake, but the terrain appeared well-trodden and stable.
No disturbing whine came from the helicopter, its entrance deterred by mist patches coalescing in bright air. We climbed out of the narrow valley and stopped for another ginger tea in brilliant sunshine.
The setting of the old Langtang village came into view with Tsergo Ri in the distance. The earthquake had funnelled a mass of rock, silt and ice from above, submerging all dwellings. A single untouched house remained, hedged from the descending projectiles by proximity to the mountain. Huge slabs of rock had fallen off, creating a sharp pressure wave. The explosive force severed the tops of trees on the other side of the valley: their stubs remained.
New houses had been built on higher ground further up and away from the cliffs. They beckoned across a bleak sea of rocky debris. The buildings encroached on yak pasture, but no one could construct on that movable morass of stone and silt, under threatening cliffs. An expression of trust, a bold rejuvenation – would the new village remain safe?
Now that Tsergo Ri was visible and closer, the determination to have a go at climbing it became stronger. We could see the long sloping shoulder that we would have to go up, free of snow and leading onto the rocky approach to the summit. It looked possible.
A half-grown kitten accepted a tea-dipped ginger biscuit, returning enthusiastic for a dry crumbled one. It had an attractive coat, though the beastie was gaunt. Bishnu complained that village cats became too lazy to hunt mice these days, being fed liberally enough, though not kept as pets. Such a creature as this would probably be hungry all the time, in the austere boondocks of upper Langtang. I could only be its friend for a moment, before the tide drew us apart.