A porter sets the line for our river cable crossing.
Troy Gillenwater offers a last-minute prayer before placing his life in the hands of our porters.
Troy Gillenwater grins as he’s lashed to the pulley.
Troy Gillenwater midway over the Po Tsangpo River. He must now pull himself up to our group waiting on the other side.
Gil Gillenwater readies for his cable crossing.
Tibetan bamboo pit viper coiled and camouflaged on a broad leaf. The porters call these vipers “Nagas.”
A tiger leech full of Gil Gillenwater’s blood.
The hamlet of Zachu has the cat-bird seat at the apex of the Great Bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo River. Here the Himalayan views are endless.
A Monpa boy from Zachu. In addition to their ubiquitous daggers, note the Dalai Lama portrait on a string around his neck. Even in the Hidden Lands, they love their God King.
Our hosts in Zachu – a young Monpa family.
Troy Gillenwater shows his camera and zoom lens to a young Monpa boy above the village of Zachu. Introducing outside technology is tricky business.
A typical Monpan kitchen. That night we slept in the smoky attic above.
Tibetan tough guys.
Gil Gillenwater and Jerry Dixon above the stream where Jerry had a leech attach to his eye.
Troy Gillenwater mingling with the locals on our hike back to Pelung (Leaping Rat Lodge). We are as curious to them as they are to us.
Gil Gillenwater and Bill Bacon give the porters a break on the hike back to Pelung (Leaping Rat Lodge).
Left to right: Troy Gillenwater, Jerry Dixon, and Gil Gillenwater, happy to be safely back at the infamous Leaping Rat Lodge.
Tashi Island and its Tsozong Gongba Monastery appear to float as the crown jewel on the emerald Basong Tso Lake. Built in A.D. 1400, Tsozong means “Castle in the Lake.”
Riding a hand-pulled log ferry for the short crossing to Tashi Island. There, Troy Gilenwater, Gil Gillenwater, and Chris Grace each receive a special blessing from the head lama in the monastery’s inner sanctum.
A Buddhist ceremonial tent erected next to the lake.
Not to be rude, Troy Gillenwater, Chris Grace, and Gil Gillenwater get just as drunk on chang as the locals.
Ferrying back to the mainland from Tashi Island, we are immediately surrounded by a throng of Tibetans in traditional dress. Before we leave, we gather a brightly clad group of locals on the ferry landing for a parting photograph. Truly a day to remember.
The Potala (the Dalai Lama’s palace) is a 13-storied building containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines, and 200,000 statues. Situated on top of Marpo Ri, the "Red Hill," at 384 feet in height, it has a commanding view over the Lhasa Valley. The year we are there – 1994 – it is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
94 #80 & #81
Built in AD 652, the Jokhang Temple is Tibet’s most revered sanctuary and the "spiritual heart” of Lhasa. In 2000, the Jokhang became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as an extension of the Potala Palace.
The Barkhor’s public square with the Potala Palace hovering on the top right. The two large incense burners (sangkangs) are fed juniper boughs constantly to please the gods protecting the Jokhang.
Gil Gillenwater and young “Monks in Training” at the Sera Monastery.
It’s a long, dusty 600-mile drive from Lhasa, Tibet, to Kathmandu, Nepal. But the view of Mt. Everest from the north makes it all worthwhile.
The ruins of the ancient Shelkar Dorje dzong (fort) snake up the mountain above New Tingri. This fortress was constructed in 1266 to protect the Kagyu Monastery.
The climb up to the Shelkar Dorje dzong affords spectacular views.
Soon the climbing becomes very steep.
Skulking through town to avoid detection, we follow a centuries-worn pilgrimage path up to a saddle. Troy Gillenwater stands amongst 800 years of devotional Mani stones and prayer flags crowding the pass. Now the real climbing is about to begin.
A night Troy and Gil Gillenwater shall never forget atop the Shelkar Dorje dzong.
Todd and Gil Gillenwater on the streets of Kowloon, Hong Kong with their new friend and fellow expedition member - Christiaan Kuypers.
Left to right: Gil, Todd, Troy Gillenwater with fellow expedition member Christiaan Kuypers - having a gay old time in the, “Top Gun” bar. This did wonders for our jet-lag.
Buddha eyes on the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu.
Bodies burning at the Pashupatinath Temple funeral pyres in Kathmandu on the edge of the Bagmati River.
Left to right: Oy Kanjanavanit, Christiaan Kuypers, Troy Gillenwater, Todd Gillenwater, Gil Gillenwater
Bhakha Tulku appeases the Himalayan mountain gods with a two-hour Puja Ceremony.
Photo taken in Tucson, Arizona, of the Dalai Lama in front of a saguaro cactus. I had 100 copies laminated and smuggled them into Tibet.
Left to right: Todd Gillenwater, Christiaan Kuypers & Oy Kanjanavanit. On our way to Lhasa, Tibet. Little did we know what lay in store.
Hamid Sardar pretending to eat a chicken foot while Ian Baker searches for the elusive chicken breast.
Following a military convoy in the rain, the muddy road leads us deeper and deeper into the land of Vajrayogini.
Slogging through the logging town of Tumbatse. Not much has changed in 13 months.
Passing Pelung (Leaping Rat Lodge), the road conditions are deteriorated.
95 #13, 14, 15
“Landslide Alley” - a lottery of luck. Some made it. Some didn’t.
Through cloud tangled skies waterfalls appeared as wedding veils, serenading the valley with pouring grace.
At the Bhakha Monastery, Ian Baker and our Chinese travel liaison - Geng Quanru - (AKA Mr. Gunn) negotiate with the monks and local Monpa tribal people to serve as porters on our pilgrimage. A few females are a must to balance the male energy.
At the Bhakha Monastery, the local Monpa tribal people weave their own backpacks.
At the Bhakha Monastery. Left to right: Todd Gillenwater, Christiaan Kuypers, Mr. Zang (seated in army camouflage), Mr. Gunn, Troy Gillenwater and Oy Kanjanavanit. Note: nobody is swallowing the rancid Yak butter tea.
Todd and Troy Gillenwater eating a lukewarm dinner at the “Carnage Cafe”. When we got back to our dumpy room Troy asked Todd, “Did that dinner taste a little weird to you?”
“Surreal” is the only way to describe a roller skating rink in the squalid frontier town of Pome.