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  Mt. Everest 2006: TRUE STORIES ABOUT MOUNTAINEERING, MOUNTAINS AND THE PEOPLE WHO CLIMB


Part I of report from George Dijmarescu edited by Betty Anne Cox

 

Here I am again at the base of Mt. Everest.  For the fifteenth time I ask Mother Goddess of the World to protect me from harm as I serve climbers trying their luck on the tallest mountain in the world.  My name is Dawa Nuru Sherpa and my village friends call me Nawang Chandu, a name I got from the Lama Tushi Rimbuse who is closely allied with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. I was blessed by this high Lama whose powers seem to have brought me through many dangers.  If Buddhists have "guardian angels", I have been blessed with one.

 

This expedition is different.  From the start I have been included as a full partner with the two American climbers, George Dijmarescu and Dave Watson, and George's wife, Lakpa Sherpa.  Their expedition is called "US AND NEPAL EVEREST EXPEDITION - FANTASY RIDGE", a true partnership.  Fantasy Ridge is called something else in my culture so I did not recognize it immediately when the Americans wrote me about their plan.  When I realized that they were choosing a route which has never been climbed, I understood why no other climbers or sherpas had signed on.  This is a very dangerous expedition.  I continue to discourage them from attempting this, but they are going ahead with it.  And I have agreed to be a partner in it. Part of this partnership is my freedom to tell about my life as a sherpa.  Many books are written about the climbers, but the stories of sherpas hardly exist. This is a great opportunity to tell my story, uncensored.  I hope it will bring a more complete understanding of my activities and opinions to those who have viewed sherpas as little more than beasts of burden.  Trust me.  We are much more.

 

Religion plays an important role in my life.  While I was raised to honor and respect my own religion, I also respect the beliefs of others and do not seek to convert anyone to my way of thinking.  My descriptions of my own life are just that.  As a young boy I wanted to live in our village monastery, Thame Monastery. Many of my friends were there and were role models for me.  My parents were not enthusiastic to have their only child living away from home, but my persistence prevailed.  I was accepted.  There I dressed in a burgundy cloak living under the rules of the monastery and the rules of Buddhist scripture.

 

While prayer was very important, the monastery life included many, many chores.  Preparing meals in the kitchen, cleaning up, serving the older monks tea, studying the books and learning to play musical instruments -  all of these activities enriched our day.  As soon as I mastered one of the instruments, I played at the prayer sessions.  I also was given the job of shopping for the entire monastery which gave me a sense of caring for the whole community.  Those at the monastery were my family just as my birth parents were my family.

 

My parents' house was just below the monastery so it was easy for me to walk for half an hour to see them. My Father and Mother were very loving.  I was a happy child growing into a young man.  Even though they respected my strong ties to the monastery, they regularly encouraged me to "walk down the hill one last time" in hopes that I would marry and have a family of my own.  I continued to reject this idea, but they had a strong sense of continuity of family. I should marry, produce grandchildren and complete the circle of life.  And so according to our culture and village custom, they found a girl for me, visited with her parents and drank chang (a type of homemade rice wine).  After several more meetings, an agreement was made for our future together.

 

The deal was struck, but nothing much happened.  We were not allowed to spend nights together, but were expected to remain friends.  This period of courtship is controlled by the groom's aggressiveness or lack of same.  I was a young man, just 23 years old and recently descended from the Thame Monastery.  To put it bluntly, I had no idea what to do with this girl! Time dragged on until my instincts begin to take over.  Still, she never really left her home.  She spent time at her parents' to help them, and then spent time with me.

 

One might well wonder how I qualified as head of a new family.  How could I support a wife and family?  An unexpected benefit of living at the monastery was an opportunity to try our luck at climbing and trekking. And that activity also brought money into the monastery.  In 1987 I joined a Japanese expedition to Annapurna on the South Face.  For veteran climbers this face needs no introduction.  For those who do not climb let me say that it still remains the most dangerous climb today.  It was tragic for me to witness four Japanese atop the mountain during this climb, but only two survivors of the descent.  My second expedition was with a Spanish group on Mt. Manaslu.  Mother Nature put an end to this climb with heavy snows.  There were no ascents.

 

I like to think that my stories of these early climbs bolstered my standing with the girl.  She liked hearing these stories of my adventures with people from other cultures, some of whom respected our own culture and some of whom were totally ignorant of our life.  Their behavior clarified my purpose in life.  I came to understand why I was in the place I was and what my mission is life would be.  These thoughts I will share with you in the next part of my story.

 

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