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  Mt. Everest 2005: WITH ALL THE BLESSINGS By Carlos Pauner 


Makalu, K2, Kangchenjunga Summiter Carlos Pauner returns to Everest to attempt without oxygen!

WITH ALL THE BLESSINGS By Carlos Pauner 

Here I am sitting again, in front of an altar decorated with butter figurines that the cooks made with a lot of work.  Here I am again surrounded by the high mountains, while the wind and the sun hit my face.  Again, a Lama recites, with monotonous rhythm, some mantras, the prayers that will bless all of us who are here.  Another expedition has begun and as always, we have the Puja ritual, a Buddhist ritual that will concede us with the best outcome in the days to follow.  In this occasion, because of the category of the mountain, the Lama who directs the act has a high hierarchy and began a more especial ceremony, more powerful, with more energy.  This is called the black Puja.  The act evolves slowly, with no rush, because if there is something that we have a lot here, it is time.  The wind shakes the flags, the smoke surrounds us creating an especial atmosphere, while our looks are fixed on the mountain, in this harsh slopes that will be our terrain for adventure during a few weeks.  We end the act with some ritual yells that mean the happiness that we will feel if we are conceded the grace of getting to the summit.  We throw rice to the air, and flour, liquor, offers for the gods of the Himalayas to get respect from them and to hope that the expedition develops with no trouble.  Very slowly, the Lama puts some colorful laces around our necks, the talismans that will protect us from any evil.  Afterwards, sitting around the altar of stones, the chorten, we eat the food we had placed on its base as a gift.  From the solemnity of the ceremony, the rhythms of the prayers, we get loud, to enjoy a moment of peace, of friendship, the eve of everything that is still to come.

Suddenly, an agile and small figure comes to me, greeting and getting my attention.  It's Apa Sherpa, one of the most interesting characters around here.  He has climbed Everest 14 times, along with commercial expeditions, working for them and letting them get to the highest point.  This year, again, he wants to get to the top, working with an American group.  I greet him with admiration and he start telling me stories about his ascents.  He tells me to be careful, that if I want to complete my ascent with no artificial oxygen, I have to leave earl on the day of the summit attack.  He tells me that I have to be faster even than those who carry those miraculous bottles on their backs, because if I'm not I will have to be standing a lot of time at the Hillary step, waiting for those ahead of me to pass that narrow passage, very close to the summit.  We spend a long time chatting, telling experiences of this and other mountains.  He looks at me with respect, because he knows I am one of the only 5 mortals that this year will try to get to the summit of Everest by their own means, with no artificial help, like the real climbers.  I also express my admiration to a person that has been so many times on the roof of the world, and above all, that he is not doing it for his own pleasure, but as a hard and formidable way to earn a living.  My most sincere hug and respect to him.  Carlos

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dispatches

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