Manaslu Base Camp – Preparing for Everest

September 13Today we had our Puja. It started very early in the morning, something at 6 AM. It is because the Lamas who come to do Puja, have to go around and do many of them in one day. So, I got out of my tent just a little after 6 am and everybody was already there, getting ready for the ceremony. Puja is a religious Buddhist ceremony, very important for the Sherpa culture. No Sherpa would agree to go up the mountain before Puja, it would be considered as a bad omen.
Our Sherpas got up even earlier than us to set up the stupa for the ceremony. There were drinks and cookies already there, by the altar, all Sherpas seemed super excited.
For us, westerners, Puja is just a ceremony to respect the local tradition and culture. It usually ends with everyone being super drunk as drinking is a part of the ceremony. So, the ceremony started, the Lamas started singing and playing  drum and gong. After a while, they blessed the climbing gear and we all have to throw flour towards the stupa. We all get a bit white from the flour. 

Then the drinking started. First, we all got three shots of rum and then the Nepalese rice wine. It was still something 9 AM. After a while, the Sherpa singing and dancing began. I tried dancing but got dizzy from lack of air and too much wine. Everybody seemed to be having a good time. The kitchen boy went around with the wine jar every minute, so the wine glass was never empty. As you can imagine, after few hours, we could barely stand on our feet… I went to my tent to get something around noon and I never came out – I felt asleep right away. I woke up around 2 pm, and the camp was dead quiet. Everybody was sleeping… drunk, even Sherpas…
Tomorrow, we are starting our first rotation to Camp 1. It will be interesting to see everyone when they wake up. It will be a difficult
day, especially after all that drinking today. I will pack my bags before I go to bed today so I am ready for a climb in the morning. We need to bring most our gear – crampons, ice ax, ect. as the the glacier climbing (‘crampon point ‘ or as we call ‘crapmton’ as Phil’s last name) starts about 45 min after we leave camp. I will be carrying my lighter sleeping bag which I will leave at Camp 1. The heavier sleeping bag (-40C plus) I decided to leave in the base camp as I want to go as light as possible when traveling in the higher camps. We will drop off the stuff at Camp 1 and return to the base camp. This is a part of acclimatization. Next time we go to Camp 1, we will sleep there and then will tag Camp 2.

 

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