Two legendary figures are important to the people of the Khumjung Sherpa village high in the Himalayas: the yeti and Sir Edmund Hillary. Sir Ed gave them a school and the yeti brings a steady stream of visitors to their monastery.
Make the long walk to the village, nestled tidily in a valley which at 3790m is slightly higher than Mt Cook, and you're bound to be taken to the relics of both.
In my case - possibly because I'm a New Zealander - the first port of call was Sir Ed's statue at the entrance to Khumjung High School.
The statue features a smiling conqueror of Everest, cast in brown, wearing a sort of stetson hat and with a prayer scarf newly draped around his neck as a gesture of respect.
But, as the plaque on the statute makes clear, Sir Ed is honoured in these parts less for his mountaineering exploits than for the tremendous work he and his Himalayan Trust have done for the Sherpas.
The plaque says the school was founded by Sir Ed in 1961. It is the first of more than 30 the trust has helped to fund, with numerous hospitals, health clinics, scholarships, training programmes and community facilities.
That work has led to him being regarded by Sherpas - in the words of Lhakpa Sonam Sherpa, founder of the Sherpa Culture Museum in nearby Namche Bazaar - as "like a living god".
Mahendra Katset, headmaster of the Khumjung school, is not quite so effusive, but it's clear that he, too, sees Sir Ed as having made an extraordinary difference to the lives of locals.
"This school was mainly built with money from the trust," he says, gesturing around the complex of neat stone buildings and well-groomed playing fields, though funding for the latest improvements has come from other sources.
"The trust also pays for text books and teaching materials and it provides scholarships so students can go on to further education in Kathmandu."
Thanks to that help, he adds, "this is the best school in the district". It has 374 pupils aged 5-16, many boarders from other villages, employs 18 teachers and opens six days a week. "Without Sir Edmund this would not have been possible."
Like the school, Khumjung village has a well-organised and prosperous air, its fields of potatoes bordered with neat stone walls, its houses well-cared for - most with doors and windowsills painted the same shade of blue - its paths paved in stone and devoid of the rubbish common in these parts.
There are several immaculate guesthouses, a few shops - including one proclaiming itself to be "the highest bakery in the world" - and a field full of giant satellite dishes.
But the town's main claim to fame is its association with the yeti, the so-called abominable snowman, a shy, shaggy, primitive anthropoid said to inhabit the most desolate parts of the great Himalaya range.
The Khumjung Gompa - or Buddhist temple - may be fairly small, but standing in pride of place before the figure of Buddha is a locked metal filing cabinet.
Produce a few notes and the gompa attendant will unlock the cabinet and reveal that inside is is a glass-fronted wooden box, about 25cm across, fastened with a padlock and, like Sir Ed's statue, respectfully wrapped in a prayer shawl.
Peering through the glass front in the dim light of the gompa visitors can see a brown hairy shape which the attendant proclaims to be "a yeti scalp". Pressed further, he explains it was a gift from the people of the nearby - in Himalayan terms - village of Khunde.
As he tells it, the villages of Khunde, Namche Bazaar and Khumjung used to have a joint festival which was held in Khunde, but years ago it was decided that each would go its own way and hold its own festival.
For some reason, which I didn't quite understand, this break-up had to be marked by a gift from the people of Khunde to those of Khumjung, "and they expected something special, such as a relic of Lord Buddha or a rare Buddhist scripture".
Instead they were given the yeti skull. "The people in those days were very angry and kicked the yeti skull all the way home just like a football."
But more recently the skull has been regarded as a thing of great value, "attracting the interest of important scientists and Sir Edmund Hillary" - and, of course, tourists.
The attendant didn't mention it but, in fact, Khumjung's two legendary figures - Sir Ed and the yeti - do intertwine quite closely.
In 1960-61, Hillary led an expedition to the Himalaya, aiming, among other things, to explore the many stories of yetis being seen in the mountains.
In return for his promise to establish a school at Khumjung he was allowed to take the scalp away for scientific testing.
Pat Booth's biography, Sir Edmund Hillary: The Life of a Legend, reports the findings as follows: "The yeti scalp from Khumjung, which had been escorted by a village elder on its long flight, was a fake made from an antelope; the skin was from a blue bear."
We kept a keen eye out for yeti during our trek through a spectacular mix of rhododendron forest and soaring mountains back to our base at Namche Bazaar but - like Sir Edmund's expedition - failed to see any.
But then again we didn't see any bears, wolves or snow leopards either, and they certainly exist.
In his book, Booth reports a Sherpa telling Peter Mulgrew, "How can the sahibs expect to see a yeti when they parade around the countryside like a herd of lumbering multi-coloured yaks?" Good point.
Cathay Pacific has regular connections to Delhi, via Hong Kong, with onward connections to Kathmandu with Jet Airways. Check with your travel agent for further details.
World Expeditions' most popular introduction to walking in the Everest region is the 15-day Sherpa Everest Trek. This includes time in Kathmandu as well as trekking to famous Buddhist monasteries, visiting some of Sir Edmund Hillary's Himalayan Trust projects in the Sherpa villages of Khunde and Khumjung, and magnificent views of some of the world's highest peaks.
Trips depart regularly from October to May. The trip from Kathmandu costs $2550 each, inclusive.
See worldexpeditions.co.nz or ring 0800 350 354 tollfree.
* Jim Eagles visited Nepal as guest of World Expeditions and Cathay Pacific.