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Monk Chants

Recorded on August 20, 1995, at the Rinchenpung Monastery. Symbolically Vajrayogini’s naval, the gompa houses a statue of Rang Rig Gyapo - the king of self-awareness and the wrathful emanation of Padmasambhava. The monk chants are an invocation to this meditation deity to protect all sentient beings from the consequences of their own misguided behavior.

95 #22

95 A 22 24 1995 TG Ian Counting Money when Monk Porters ArrestedThe Communist Chinese forbade the Bhakha Buddhist monks to travel with us. Ian Baker counts the group’s cash. Certainly a bribe will change their minds.


95 #23

95 A 23 35a 1995 Prasena Takshim Monastery BomiThe head Lama of the Taksham Monastery bears a remarkable resemblance to Yoda.


95 #24

95 A 24 gillenwater v5 051At the Taksham Monastery (the, “Tiger Skin Monastery”) we find a most unusual mural depicting five tigers devouring a corpse.


95 #25

95 A 25 88a 1995 Old Tibetan woman w Prayer Wheel
An elderly Ani (Nun) looks on in knowing devotion as Buddhist monks conduct a divination ceremony known as a "prasena" to manifested a rainbow to guide us to our trailhead.


95 #26

95 A 26 Rainbow
The Rainbow of “Divine Guidance.”


95 #27

95 A 27 163b 1995 Communist Chinese Sign
Driving out of Pome, we passed this sign claiming the Communist Chinese as the protectors of the Himalayas.


95 #28

95 A 28 113b 1995 Valley Beginning of Hike
The Himalayan scenery from our first camp is other-worldly.


95 #29

95 A 29 48 1995 TG Jolly Lama w Attendants
Seemingly out of nowhere a Lama - Kaba Tulku (pronounced Kawa) - and his small entourage arrive. What a gift!


95 #30

95 A 30 75 1995 TG Troy Kaba Tulku Jolly Lama RinchenpungThe enigmatic Kaba Tulku (the “Cloud Lama” ) with his tell-tale red hat. This represents his adherence to the Nyingma or “Old School” sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The ethereal Lama was to become an integral part of our pilgrimage and the mystery of our journey.


95 #31

95 A 31 39a 1995 Huge Glacier on DashingLa Pass Hike
We are surrounded by massive Himalayan glaciers.


95 #32

95 A 32 2b 1995 Start Big Porter w Big LoadDouble loads equal double pay. Here our “Gentle Giant” carries over 120 pounds.


95 #33

95 A 33 48b 1995 Tiny Porters Hiking to DashingLaFinally we are hiking! Our group moves as a multi-legged centipede wending its way along and across the glacial spillway.


95 #34

95 A 34 12b 1995 Gil Hiking to DashingLaSoon the climbing begins. At first I feel bad – me carrying 25 pounds and the porters carrying from 60 pounds to double that. I soon get over it. That is what they are trained and paid to do.


95 #35

95 A 35 117b 1995 G T T Trail up DashingLa
It is a dream come true. Hiking the Himalayan “Hidden Lands” with the two people I can count on the most – my brothers Troy (left) and Todd Gillenwater (right).


95 #36

95 A 36 143b 1995 Camp before DashingLa
Camping at the base of the Dashing La Pass. At an elevation of 12,850 feet, we have half a mile of vertical climbing to reach the pass. Then we will descend into the depths of Pemako’s “Hidden Lands”.


95 #37

95 A 37 14 1995 TG Gil Looking Back Down Dashing Valley
Following a dip in the glacial stream, Gil Gillenwater and his “Buddha Eyes” survey the Dashing Valley.



95 #38

95 B 1 42a 1995 Jolly Lama w Bear
Finding a dead bear incurs no negative karma. Our food shortage is solved. We will eat like Kings! Kaba Tulku guides the bear’s soul to a better rebirth.


95 #39

95 B 2 155b 1995 Porters Skinning Bear
Gutting the bear in search of the prized gallbladder. Soon we will have meat aplenty.


95 #40

95 B 3 131b 1995 Porters Cooking Bear Meat
Roasting the meat takes all night. We have over 200 pounds of bear steaks.


95 #41

95 B 4 118b 1995 Butchering Bear 2
The butchering and tribal incantations go on for hours. The Guardian Spirits are pleased. They’ve given us this gift. The porters chanted their gratefulness.


95 #42

95 B 5 61 1995 TG Butchering BearThe porters play with the bear’s head throughout the night hoping to embody its spirit. They keep the head for several days.


95 #43

95 B 6 39 1995 TG Hiking up Dashing Valley
At 14,000 feet in elevation, climbing up and out of the Dashing Valley is a formidable task.


95 #44 & #45

95 B 7 66b 1995 Porters Going Up DashingLa

95 B 8 26b 1995 Porters Climbing DashingLa Pass
The Sherpas and porters are super-human.


95 #46 & #47

95 B 9 107 1995 Gil on DashingLa

95 B 10 123b 1995 Troy Looking Glacier on DashingLa
Stopping to soak in the scenery. At times it is overwhelming.


95 #48

95 B 11 40a 1995 Porter on DashingLa Pass Hike
Hiking the ice fields is treacherous. Especially with a 100 pound load.


95 #49

95 B 12 121b 1995 Glacier on DashingLa Hike
One final look back into the Dashing Valley.


95 #50

95 B 13 25b 1995 Todd Atop DashingLa Pass
Todd reaches the Dashing La Pass.


95 #51

95 B 14 18 1995 TG Troy Porter on Dashing La Pass
Troy and Pasang Sherpa reach the Dashing La Pass.


95 #52

95 B 15 8a 1995 Pony Group Dropping into Pemako
A pony caravan emerges from the roiling Pemako abyss.


95 #53

95 B 16 38a 1995 Gil Dalai Lama Photo DashingLa Pass
With Mr. Zang well ahead I offer Dalai Lama photographs.


95 #54

95 B 17 1 1995 TG Gil Hiking Down of Dashing La
Dropping off the Dashing La Pass and negotiating the ice fields at the head of the Chimdro Valley.


95 #55

95 B 18 10a 1995 Pemako Chimdro Vajrayogini Waterfall
Hundres of waterfalls cascade into the Chimdro Valley. Waterfalls have special significance in Pemako.


95 #56

95 B 19 24b 1995 Dropping into Chimdro Valley
The throat of the Chimdro Valley.


95 #57

95 B 21 62 1995 TG Gil after Dashing La Pass
This cabin has wall to wall porters chomping on putrefied bear meat.


95 #58

95 B 24 12 1995 TG Sick Camp near Taken
The ground is so saturated with water our tent feels like a waterbed.


95 #59

95 B 25 41 1995 TG Gil w Leech on Stomach
Our dropping elevation takes us deep into leech country.


95 #60

95 B 20 71b 1995 Todd Tiny Porters Descending DashingLa
A steep descent off Dashiing La Pass and into Chimdro Valley.


95 #61

95 B 23 23b 1995 Todd Crossing Cantilevered Bridge
Pemako weather vacillates from pounding rain to scorching sun several times a day. Here Todd Gillenwater crosses a cantilevered bridge.


95 #62

95 B 22 60b 1995 Gil Looking Down Chimdro
Pemako is a fairyland.


95 #63

95 B 27 63 1995 TG Crazy Nun
The Crazy Nun.


95 #64

95 B 28 49a 1995 Crazy Nun w Dalai Lama Photo
Here the Crazy Nun is proving to us she is not a poison witch. Poison witches in Pemako have tattooed tongues. Therefore, local etiquette requires the sticking out of tongues for all female introductions.


95 #65

95 B 29 32a 1995 Gil Hiking Between Opposing Rivers
Two different rivers - 30 feet apart - flowing in opposite directions?


95 #66

95 B 30 73 1995 TG Troy w Leech on Butt
Troy Gillenwater wins the “worst place to find a leech” contest.


95 #67

95 B 31 68 1995 TG Troy Drinking w Leech on ArmLeech bites becomes common occurrences.


95 #68

95 B 35 67 1995 TG Gil in Chimdro Bamboo Tiger Jungle
The tunneled bamboo thickets are very disorienting. Knowing of the area’s large tiger population doesn't help.


95 #69

95 B 34 146b 1995 Troy on Bamboo Trail
Troy Gillenwater and porters hope they’re on the right trail.


95 #70 & #71

95 B 32 36 1995 TG Gil in Chimdro Tiger Jungle

95 B 33 134b 1995 Troy Todd Ian in Rhododendron Forest
The hot and tangled Rhododendron forests becomes oppressive. 


95 #72

95 B 39 28a 1995 Deformed Kids Looking in Tent Chimdro
The local children would stare at us for hours. Inbreeding has taken a toll in these isolated villages.


95 #73

95 B 36 27a 1995 Gil Porter w Leech Eye Dalai Lama Photo
With Mr. Zang in Ghutan trying to secure our permits, I have free license to hand out Dalai Lama photographs in the village of Samdrup. This man lost the sight in his left eye due to a leech bite.


95 #74 & #75

95 B 37 20b 1995 Porter w Dalai Lama Photo2

95 B 38 145b 1995 Portes Tent door w Dalai Lama
The tribal people’s love for the Dalai Lama knows no bounds.


95 #76

95 B 26 30a 1995 Jolly Lama Chinese Policeman Mr. Zang
I love this photo. Here our Lama rests in meditative peace. Next to him, exhausted, is our Communist Chinese military escort – Mr. Zang. Mr. Zang is conflicted. He can't square the spiritual magic of Pemako, he witnesses through the Lama, with his atheistic Communist beliefs.


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