Everest 2015: Blessings on the Mountain

Raising Prayer Flags over Everest Base CampRaising Prayer Flags over Everest Base Camp
Raising Prayer Flags over Everest Base Camp

Before climbing in the Himalaya with Sherpas, a Puja ceremony must be held. There can be multiple Pujas, help or blessing. For example we had one with Lama Geshi a few days ago in his home in Pangyboche. Yesterday, Wednesday April 15, we held our Puja at our Base Camp for our Everest and Lhotse climbs.

It is a very special ceremony where “members” and Sherpas come together to ask the mountain Gods permission to climb, forgiveness for any damage to the mountain and safety for all the climbers.

It was a drawn out ceremony with a Lama coming from one of the lower villages. He chanted and prayed for about two hours from a 300 year-old Tibetan prayer book. We placed our climbing gear against the chorten to be blessed

Even though it sounds quite formal it is actually fun and relaxed (see the end of the video) with everyone milling around, taking photos and chatting while the Lama does all the heavy lifting 🙂 Prayer flags are strung from the Puja pole across the tents at Base Camp so every time the wind blows, prayers are sent.

The Puja ends with spreading sampa (barley powder) on each other’s faces to represent white beads and long life. Finally, everyone lines up for some Sherpa dancing – some are much better than others at this part! We had perfect weather this morning, albeit a bit chilly with a 7:00AM start!

At the end Kami, serving as the Senior Sherpa talked about how we are family and must climb together as a team. Then Purba, who lost a brother in the ice fall last year, talked about how we must all be careful and support one another. All in all a moving ceremony which ended with copious amounts of Johnny Walker, Turborg beer and red wine – go figure!

Snow, Snow, Snow

Later yesterday afternoon, we all donned our climbing gear (boots, crampons, harness, ice axe, etc) and took a spin onto the Khumbu Icefall. It began snowing, again, and the clouds covered up any views. Today, we worked on more skills.

This is happening all over EBC in hopes climbers will move quickly and efficiently thought the climb. Regardless of your experience, it is wise to review your skills and practice before doing the real thing.

There were several Sherpas planning to go into the Western Cwm  today (Thursday April 16) from multiple teams but the poor weather stopped them. In fact, no team has climbed into the Icefall, much less to Camp 1 or 2 yet.

This morning, Thursday, it is still overcast with light snow. This is now three days of snow and cold temps and it the forecast looks like more of the same for a few more days. This is a bit unusual but happen occasionally, but it’s a long expedition so no worries.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything


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7 thoughts on “Everest 2015: Blessings on the Mountain

  1. Craig in Brisbane, well said! I’ve never been to Nepal, but from what I have heard and seen in Alan’s reports, if someone does not want to participate in a puja they are free not to. I’m a Roman Catholic. My faith teaches very clearly going back to the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s that we should always allow ourselves to be blessed by whatever is true, holy, noble and virtuous in other religions, but always with the goal of being a reflection of Christ to those around you.

  2. Wonderful writing and video Alan- thanks for sharing it so that everyone who wants to can at least glimpse what a special place and experience Everest affords those open to it.

  3. From Bill in NJ,USA. Good luck in your 2015 Lohtse climb. You are a inspiration. Im glued to your website.

  4. I’d just add some quick thoughts for those going to Base Camp but who ascribe to another faith and wonder about the spirituality of the Puja, as I did before I went. Nepal is steeped in Buddism and other mostly Eastern faiths and you certainly see it on display all over. But if it’s not your thing don’t let it put you off visiting such a magnificent part of the world. The puja is sincere and spiritual for those of this faith, respected and enjoyed by visitors who want to get involved, but if it seems to cross your own lines of thought about such things there’s no compulsion or offense should you choose to not participate. And sitting it out, avoiding it, doing your own thing is certainly up to you. Enjoy!

  5. My favorite video yet — especially the laughter and dancing — all the gray sampa smearing!
    Ohm mani padme hum (I hope I spelled that right!!) Blessings to all on the Mountain!!

  6. As usual, thanks for the interesting and informative post. I question the spelling of the town name Pangboche which you spelled Pangyboche. I consulted several maps including National Geographic’s and found none of them including the ‘y’ in the town name Pangboche. Although there are many place names in the Khumbu and all around Nepal which have a variety of spellings, Pangboche is not one of them and I think it would be unfortunate if an alternate spelling with its associated confusion might crop up because you have spelled it this way to your large audience.

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