Tirseng found a small recess in the face of the cliff and collapsed into it. The wind howled across the opening, full of angry demons. Snow had partly drifted across the opening, and this was good, but Tirseng felt the warm inclination to sleep rise into his body and that was bad. If he nodded off, he could be entombed in a matter of an hour. He pulled off his goggles and gloves and rubbed his eyes. This was the danger of Pengandu Pass : Sudden storms that brought blinding snow and wind, and the rush of the avalanche.
From below, all had seemed peaceful "upstairs". He had paused at the Penaghay Monastery to sip tea from his flask, and the sun had forced him to remove his hat and coat. When he had spun the great prayer wheel there, the banners of red and yellow had spun a bright orange circle against the blue sky, and he had prayed for safe passage. But as he climbed the high trail, the white clouds had bloomed on the flank of Kanchenchunga and come slowly down to engulf him.
He sat in the cave and considered what to do. It was three hours until dark, but he could make it down into the valley where his village lay in less than two, if he could hold the path. It was then he heard the Kanchengalta, the Roar of the Mountain, and a wall of snow slid across the entrance to his cave, shutting him in complete darkness. When the rumble stopped,he took his ice ax and began to dig at the snow, chanting om manne padme um to calm his spirit.
In an hour, Tirseng had made a hole large enough to crawl through, and he passed out into the storm. The avalanche had obliterated the trail, but he prayed for the Buddha's hand to lead him, and started plunging forward waste deep in the fresh snow. He had traveled almost two hours in this manner, but had yet to pass the Leopard Rock which signalled the end of the pass. He felt that the path was entirely too steep in it's descent, and that he must have lost the trail above him, so he began to climb. It was very steep, and he began to use his ax. With his right hand grasping for a hold, the ax broke loose in some rotten ice, and Tirseng felt himself sliding at high speed into the ravine below. He fought to use the ax blade to break his fall, but the snow was crusty and fragile as he plunged through it. At last, he felt nothing solid below him, and knew that he was falling, the flake of snow seemed suspended although the wind howled in his ears.
When he struck, he found that Buddha had pitied him, and allowed him to fall upon the soft run-out of the avalanche. He struggled out of the snow, wincing with pain. He had lost both gloves, and he felt his right leg was certainly broken. He staggered vaguely in the direction of his valley, but found the way blocked by a huge fall of boulders. He went in the opposite direction, and he saw through the blizzard a dark shape, and he made for the shape. He fell at the foot of the object, and looked up to see that it was a statue of the Buddha, carved in dark stone, with an inscription in a language he could not read. He touched the statue, and moved past it into a narrow passage way in the cliff. It was like a long tunnel, roofed with stone, but dry and, somehow, warm.
Tirseng found that the rock floor was smooth, and he lay down upon it, and slept.