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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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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