From Tallo Phedi it is a long climb to Mathillo Phedi, the ramshackle base camp for the final summit climb. Hundreds of pilgrims cram into tin huts huddled together for the night. The hardships are part of the pilgrimage, and endured uncomplainingly by devotees.
Pathibhara gets over 350,000 visitors per year, and half of them are on the trails at any given time, some even wake up at 2AM and walk with flashlights just to be ahead of the crowds.
Despite the throngs, the forests are lush with oak and rhododendron giving way to pine and alpine meadows. Within a few weeks the rhododendron will be out in full bloom in many colours: pink, red, striped, and sometimes solid and striped flowers on the same tree. This year many branches have broken due to the weight of heavy snowfall.
The majestic peak of Jannu Himal and Mt Kanchenjunga accompanies visitors throughout the climb, and the 360 degree view from the summit is stunning. Even those who are not particularly religious are overwhelmed by a feeling of exhilaration by the panorama, the crisp cold air and the mysterious energy of the shrine that pull many to it.
The Minister and Sherpa reportedly flew to Pathibhara to inspect a proposed cable car up to the shrine. Perhaps the legends are right, and the gods of Pathibhara do not want it to be more accessible.