No expedition, whether coddled commercial or at the forefront of exploration, dares depart without tsampa and rice offerings, prayers and blessings sought from the relevant deities. Multi-coloured flags flutter invocations to the wind and the clunk of prayer wheels resonates throughout the camps.
“Tourism, it’s been good for the Sherpas… but it’s bad for the gods,” Kancha, veteran of the 1953 Everest expedition, said recently, gesturing at the lines of trekkers and towering mountains that lie beyond his Khumbu window. “When I was a boy, there were many feet of snow in winter. Now, the summits are black. That’s not good.”
Far away in the hot heart of Australia, it has been a long battle for the aboriginal people to achieve a similar spiritual respect for Uluru (Ayers Rock), worshipped by the Anangu tribes as a creation of ancestral beings during Dreamtime. But it is happening. From 26 October 2019, the climb will close permanently.
Read also: Climbing to divine, Stéphane Huët