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15 Apr: Puja Ceremony

PujaFor those who listened to Rob’s voice update before he was cutoff, here’s a little more detail about today’s activity. (Rob called in from EBC just after recording the update.)

All our climbers…Rob, Kyle, Colin, Marshall, Drew and Nick, and all of our trekkers are now at EBC. Heidi and Megan have returned to health and have joined Malcolm and Edie at EBC as well. All of our Wounded Warriors had it there, but they have had to head back down the valley to conclude their trek.

As Rob says in his voice update, the big event today was the Puja ceremony. The Puja, a ritual that is part of every expedition to high peaks here in Nepal, is conducted by Lamas from a nearby monastery. The purpose of the Puja is to obtain a favorable blessing from the mountain gods for a successful climb. The Sherpa take this very seriously, and will not climb on the mountain until the Puja is completed. The ceremony involves much prayer, chanting and drum beating, and offerings of juniper smoke, food and drink. As Rob mentioned, the Lama sprinkles flour into the hair and beards of the climbers, to give the appearance of old age, a tradition meant to ensure a safe climb and long life. The Lamas also bless key pieces of equipment like ice axes and crampons. The ceremony concludes by erecting a tall pole festooned with prayer flags.

The rest of the day was devoted to more training with the Sherpa team, making sure everyone is familiar with fixed rope techniques, both ascending and rappelling. Our USAF climbers are looking strong! Tomorrow they will descend to Lobuche base camp to prepare for the ascent there.

We are still working to get some photos of the team, but in the meantime, keep checking the IMG website at: http://www.mountainguides.com/everest-south13.shtml (The USAF climbers are part of Team 3) Stay tuned for more!

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