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Day 13/14. Gear Sort, Puja and Icefall! (September 14, 2010)

Current Position
Position Date: 2010-09-15 05:45:15
Position Latitude: 27.98761
Position Longitude: 86.87811 

For our morning Puja, a newly erected shrine complete with prayer flags, Coca Cola, Mt. Everest Beer and much more.I think I can finally say that I have nearly all of my systems sorted. My gear is unpacked, patches sewed on clothes (at least some) and food for high camps is sorted. It feels good to have a small handle on the many systems we need in order to climb safely. With the exception that I thought today was yesterday (day 13 instead of day 14) I think I'm doing pretty good.

If nothing else, there is stability in Base Camp. My roomy Sierra Designs Mountain Meteor tent (plus the Grand Mothership), an extra Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad, chairs... Here, we have way more reliable and consistent power, too. Our Goal0 solar panels and Sherpa battery packs provide nearly unlimited power for all our electronic gear - definitely more than anywhere during the hike here. At Base Camp, I am also able to get a satellite connection through a Wideye BGAN system and will be able to finally send out regular video posts. Of course, I still have my trusty Iridium phone that has already been to both poles which I use to send out daily updates and pod casts.

STP Everest - Day 14: Base Camp & Puja

Today, it was determined, would be a good day for a Puja. Dawa and Pasang (besides being climbing Sherpas, they are also monks) started early decorating a shrine with offerings, candles and other odds and ends. Many were adorned intricately with butter shaped into an assortment of slivers, small discs and delicate arcs. Next, we all sat in front of the shrine while Dawa and Passang proceeded to issue an nearly three hour series of chants. In the hot morning sun, I was impressed by their dedication. 

Later, I asked Tshering what they were saying during the Puja to which he replied, 'They are just prayers.' Not exactly the answer I was looking for but knowing Tshering it would have to suffice.

At several points during the Puja different offerings were made. A pole was placed upright, then guyed for stability. Simultaneously five long lines of prayer flags were unfurled and tied to distant rocks. Another Pasang diligently served milk tea to anyone and everyone throughout the entire proceedings.

With the Puja reaching its first climax we toasted with soda and beer, but the celebration would be short lived as Tshering (#2 our Sirdar or climbing leader) and I geared up and headed into the ice fall to get a feel for the conditions, scout the route that the ice fall doctors had blazed, and most importantly, practice the precarious act of walking across ladders to span crevasses.

I would learn later that while Tshering and I were navigating our way through an increasingly complex series of cracks, pinnacles, and ice heaves, the Puja would reach its second climax with singing, dancing and some specially made local beverages.

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