Climbers Reflect and the Icefall is in Early

Apr 6, 2010
Outside Magazine

Everest_2008_0513 This week, the majority of the 2010 expeditions are working theirway up the Khumbu towards Everest Base Camp on the south side. Permitsand visas have now been issued for north teams and they have leftKathmandu, crossed the boarder and are already in Tingri and otherTibetan villages.

We can expect to see climbers arrive in the base camps later thisweek. The Altitude Junkies team is looking at Friday, April 9th for thesouth BC and SummitClimb, the 8th over on the north.

As the south teams make their way north, they experience the secondof three Pujas for some teams. The first is usually in Kathmandu, thenone along the trek and finally the most important one at Everest BaseCamp. A Puja is when a Lama performs a ceremony where he asks themountain Gods for permission to climb and for the safety of theclimbers. He also asks for forgiveness for the damage caused to themountain by the climbers.

The one along the trek is with the honored Lama Geshi. He is one ofthe most important Lamas in all Buddhism. Climbers visit his personalhome in Pangboche where they are served tea and snacks by his wife anddaughter. Everyone feels a bit different during these ceremonies. Hereare two takes. First from Dave Hahn with RMI

It was our second night in Deboche, and the group isdoing really well. After breakfast we started hiking along the ImjaRiver, following its banks until the valley walls narrowed and we beganthe climb up to Pangboche. Pangboche is a small village, but a veryimportant stop on our trek to Basecamp. It is here that the Lama Geshegives his blessing for a safe expedition. Each climber receives a"kata" and blessing card and this is followed by his blessing. Thetradition is for the climbers to take a picture holding the blessingcard while on top of Everest and then mail it back to him. One wholewall is covered with pictures of climbers, spanning many years. To takepart in this ceremony is an honor and gives valuable insight into theSherpa culture.

Tim Rippel of Peak Freaks describes the impact on his team

Our Puja today had a very special affect on everyone.The emotion among the group was heavy. This is a time where for some,they realize they made need a little help in a spiritual sense andconfront that fact head on. They acknowledge they are about to engagein something that may throw obstacles at them that will be out of theircontrol. Lama Geshi's blessing helps give them the tools to deal withthis and offers prayers for safe passage.

One of the most interesting moments with Lama Geshi is after heplaces the white scarf or kata and the sungdi,which is a red stringaround your neck, he will do a small head-butt with you more or lesssealing the deal. A special moment to be sure.

In Icefall news, it is in!! This is incredibly early and it appearsthe route is much safer this year according to this dispatch fromEverestEr. Last year is April 14th when the route was finalized.

Back to the icefall doctors - these 6 rugged guystraverse the icefall, toting ladders and rope and other equipment toset the route up to camp 1.  They are way ahead of schedule this year,and have reached the top of the icefall with only a few hundred yardsleft to fix to camp 1.  Ang Gyaltzen tells me there are no segmentslonger than 2 ladders (excellent news for climbers wary of thoselegendary 9-ladder-long spans across yawning crevasses) and they haveused ~ 30 some ladders so far (last year I recall 40-some.)

Great news for the early teams because they can start theirrotations to the higher camps almost immediately. Perhaps this willreduce the crowding when the summit window appears in mid May.

Climb On!


Arnette is a speaker, mountaineer and Alzheimer's Advocate. You can read more on his site


Please help the Cure Alzheimer Fund get $250,000. No donation, just your vote at the Pepsi Refresh Site. Thank you.

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