Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Everest ~ Cathedral of the world
And now for something completely different: some Tibetan chants.
May 29, 2013 is the sixtieth anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest, or as the mountain is locally called Chomolungma. On the south side of this peak is the icefall in Nepal; on the north side, the Tibetan plateau.
In the Sherpa's Buddhist teaching, Chomolungma is home to a beautiful goddess called Miyolangsangma. She is a protective spirit that dwells high on the mountain. Many Sherpa have told of dreams where a beautiful young woman approaches them and makes her presence known before retreating to the heights of the mountain.
It was prophesied that a Sherpa would be the first to reach the highest point of the mountain and of the earth. In 1953 that prophecy came to fruition when Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reached the summit. Hillary callously remarked that they, "knocked the bastard off." But one cannot completely blame the old chap. Though he failed to see the mountain for what it was, he did many good things for the people of the Khumbu community, building schools and medical centers in the decades after.
Following the historic climb, some of the Himalayan communities fought over the nationality of Norgay and the supporting climbers. Many porters were originally Tibetan, though the Chinese military had driven them out of their homeland. They settled in Darjeeling, India, the kick-off location for most climbing expeditions at that time. And then the teams traveled through the heart of Nepal to reach basecamp and the summit.
The cultures and people in this area have their differences, but the Himalayan community all share one thing: the extraordinary backdrop of these mountains and their mystique. One day in the not too distant future, I hope to find myself at the base of these mountains. Anatoli Boukreev said it best:
"Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambition to achieve, they are the cathedrals where I practice my religion."