Namaste Family & Friends:
Yesterday, we had our Puja at Base Camp. Some Puja photos are attached to this message. The Puja is a Buddhist prayer ceremony considered very sacred by the Sherpas. In fact, the climbing Sherpas will not sleep on the mountain until the Puja has been completed.
At the Puja, a Buddhist Priest (“Lama”), blesses the expedition, including the climbers, the Sherpas, the food, the equipment and every aspect of the expedition. The Lama sits in front of a stone structure and reads Buddhist scripture. As Expedition Leader, I was asked to sit next to the Lama. See photo below. While the Lama reads scripture, juniper is burned. During the ceremony, rice is scattered by the Lama, the Sherpas and the climbers.
In the middle of the ceremony, a large pole is raised and planted in the stone structure. Buddhist prayer flags are attached to the pole and stretched out in all directions around our camp. Food is placed at the top of the pole, and it is considered good luck if a Gorak (a large black bird) lands on the pole. See photo below. At the conclusion of the ceremony the climbers and the Sherpas perform a “Puja Dance.”
This was the best Puja I have attended on Everest. The weather was beautiful and the young Lama was very impressive in his prayers and his reading of scripture.
All of the climbers in our expedition moved up to Camp 1 this morning. I guess they were anxious to get moving. Bud Allen and I decided to wait for the crowd to clear, so we will be moving up on April 25. What’s the big hurry?
Bud, Allan and I are all doing well, physically, mentally and spiritually. Poor Allan has had some stressful days at Base Camp since he is in charge of setting up the communication tent. There were some problems with insufficient power for all of the equipment brought by the climbers. This required us to ration the power. Some of the other climbers were not happy about this and Allan had to deal with their complaints. He was not the cause of the power problem, but they still came to him with their issues. He handled this with grace and style, and I am very proud of him for his performance. Thanks to Allan, I think we have the power problem resolved. See the photo of Allan in the communication tent.
In a future post, I will introduce the team. But, two brothers just arrived at Base Camp, one from Canada and one from the Czech Republic. I can tell they are going to be fun. They told me they are “older” climbers. When I asked their age, one said he was born in 1956. I told him I was born in 1942. He replied with amazement, “oh, such numbers have not been invented yet.” When one inquired about my plans and I spoke of the double summit, he said “this is good. I like crazy people.”
We are still seeing lots of helicopter evacuations from Base Camp.
Personal note to my family: will someone please give Ollie a big hug and kiss for me? He probably wonders where his Papa is. I would also appreciate it if someone would take him on bike rides on the weekend. He loves that. Don’t forget to pick up the new flag for the bike trailer. That flag is needed for safety. I ordered it from the neighborhood bike doctor.