Puja, Night Shots, and Heading Up!

April 19, 2011 7:19 pm Everest BC

Before ever setting foot on Everest, or other Himalayan peaks for that matter, it is customary for the Sherpa staff and climbing members to celebrate a “Puja,” an offering to the mountain in exchange for safe travel and good weather for the teams. We celebrated our Puja in BC on the 17th of April amidst a gorgeous, warm alpine morning. We have three lamas on our staff and they presided over the ceremony, which went on for well over an hour. Once the Puja has finished and the blessings made, the climbers are then able to go up the mountain knowing that they have done their part to placate the mountain gods. So after a merry day of celebration, our first Sherpa team headed up through the Khumbu Icefall to establish camp one on the 18th.

Our program now moves into full climbing mode, with three “blocks” or “rotations” on the mountain. Tomorrow at 4 am we will leave to climb to Camp I for our first block, which consists of two days at Camp I on top of the steep part if the icefall at 20,300′, followed by a move up to Camp II in the great Western Cwm at 22,100′.

Once in Camp II we will spend four nights working hard at doing nothing but acclimatizing- which means hydrating, playing games, reading, and I’m pretty sure dealing with a headache or two. We’ve got loads of books and movies for Camp II, as well as Cribbage, Scrabble, Chess, and Poker chips. Neal and I also have our skis and boots loaded on our packs and are excited to get that gear up to where there might be the possibility for some turns. Our skiing expectations are fairly low; but we will be happy to ski whatever we can. I’m told the face of Nuptse above the Cwm might have some amazing skiing potential.

After this first rotation up the mountain we will come back to Base Camp for a four-day rest and recovery period. The goal of this period will be to recover our strength and motivation before we head back up again for a higher push up the mountain. Right now, we are looking for a summit window some time between May 18 and 28, however; we will see what Mother Nature and Sagarmatha offers us.

So I will be back in touch with another dispatch as soon as we are down from this first rotation.

Thanks for reading, enjoy the images.
-Chris Davenport

Prayer flags spread out from the top of the pole on our chorten. The background highlights the Khumbu Icefall, with our route up to Camp I going from left to right in the frame.

Raising the juniper-tipped pole onto the chorten. The peak in the background is Lingtren

The Puja taking place at Base Camp

It is customary to tie a Khata scarf to the prayer flags which will fly over camp for the next 6 weeks. I wrote a dedication to my family on mine, as I’m thinking of them every day over here.

From left to right: Neal, Bill, Ephi, and Scott. Everyone gets tsampa, or flour, caked on their faces during the ceremony.

During the last two nights Neal and I have been out working on some photography during the full moon. The light was almost too-bright at times, but we managed to get some great shots from our camp.

Here is our dining tent at 10pm as the moon lights the clouds from above.

Full moon and prayer flags in front of the Khumbu Icefall.

We had a lot of fun “painting” Everest late at night.

Moonrise over the West Shoulder of Everest.

chris davenport
davenport mountainsport inc
90 katydid lane
snowmass colorado 81654
chris@steepskiing.com

www.chrisdavenport.com
www.antarcticskiodyssey.com
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****Check out the new book- “Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America” here: http://www.wolverinepublishing.com/guidebooks/snow_and_mountain_sports/Fifty_Classic_Ski_Descents

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