Yesterday we took the short Druk Air flight from Bumthang back to Paro in western Bhutan. The ticket counter, security and gate were all in one room. We saw one other “western” family with kids among the locals and monks. They asked the kids if they want to play tag in the grass parking lot before the flight - turns out they live in Austin.
During the 30-minute flight as we rose just above the clouds, we saw the most amazing sight. Poking through the clouds in the not too far distance were several snow-capped Himalayan peaks. Each of them had to have been over 20,000 to 24,000 feet tall. The tallest of the Bhutanese Himalayas, Gangkhar Puensum (Bhutanese name), to this day remains unclimbed. The mountain is believed to be sacred and the locals don’t want climbing expeditions “cursing” the mountain with litter, human waste and even dead bodies from climbers that would meet their fate, as would certainly happen over time. We heard that the current offer to the Bhutanese government is equivalent to $1 Million USD by a Japanese group (vs around $50k fee for Mt Everest) to climb, and so far, these offers have been denied, but time will tell. It reminded me that we also saw the one helicopter in Bhutan which serves as rescue vehicle or sightseeing for the right price. Nevertheless, the mountain views are spectacular and I hope that we catch a glimpse of Everest on our flight back to India.
In Paro, we met a new guide named Pema. Dorji and Karma are still driving back from Bumthang with our luggage along the curvy mountain roads. A truck had flipped the night before across the single lane mountain roads and it would be late into the next night before they arrived.