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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.

97 #16

97 A 14 11 1997 Porters Crossing StreamHiking in the rain we descended from alpine glacier country to the tropics. We have GORE-TEX while our porters have simple sheets of plastic.


97 #17

97 A 15 150 1997 Monpa Boy w Chicken FootA severed chicken foot is a simple Lopa tribal toy. The young boy shows us with great amusement how pulling a tendon causes the claw to contract.


97 #18

97 A 16 160a 1997 Troy Porters Crossing StreamHere Troy Gillenwater and the porters cross a makeshift bridge. It is a very steep descent with water everywhere.


97 #19

97 A 17 180 1997 Troy Hiking in JungleHere Troy Gillenwater negotiates the tricky jungle slopes. Even though the village of Charasa is 2,000 feet below us, this portion of the trail heads steadily upwards.


97 #20

97 A 18 25 1997 Porter Girl FlowerThe tribal women of Pemako are remarkable. In addition to their natural beauty, their strength and sure-footedness as porters is phenomenal. And their calm and even demeanor helps balance out the aggressive energy of the male porters.


97 #21

97 A 19 105 1997 TG Seductive Porter Girl Eating FlowerThe tribal women of Pemako can also be extremely seductive and beguiling.


97 #22

97 A 20 119 1997 Tiny Porter Below WaterfallThis is Pemako in all its immensity and magic. Note the tiny porter crossing the stream at the bottom of the waterfall.


97 #23

97 A 19 56 1997 TG River View from LongLipOur first glimpse of the Yarlung Tsangpo River. Even from 2,000 feet above it looked daunting.


97 #24

97 A 20 20 1997 Gil HunterGil Gillenwater and a Lopa takin hunter pose with flintlocks. These smooth-bore rifles looked like they are right out of the American Revolutionary War.


97 #25

97 A 21 39 1997 TG Troy Looking Back on GandenTroy Gillenwater scopes out our evenings camp – Charasa – 1,000 feet below. 


97 #26

97 A 24 83 1997 TG CharasaAt an elevation of only 4,100 feet the barrack grounds of Charasa are sweltering hot and crawling with bugs and leeches.


97 #27

97 A 22 90 1997 TG Troy Gil Chimed Gompa Lobsong Porter in TerrassaA surprise visit from three of our 1995 porters. We are convinced Chimed Gompo saved our lives on that fateful expedition. Left to right: Chimed Gompo (avoiding the camera), Troy Gillenwater, Lobsang, Gil Gillenwater, and Sonam Chimbe (avoiding the camera).


97 #28

97 A 23 151 1997 Gil Dawa Interview Chimed Gompa in Terrasa copyDawa (in green shirt) translates as Gil Gillenwater records the conversation. Left to right: Chimed Gompo, Lobsang, and Sonam Chimbe laugh as they recount the trials and tribulations of our 1995 Kundu Dorsempotrang expedition.


97 #29

97 A 24 16 1997 Leech on CandleLike moths drawn to light, the heat-seeking leeches would slither into the flame and die.


97 #30

97 B 1 147 1997 Gil Troy Hike out of GandenThe day’s climbing is hot – really hot.


97 #31

97 B 2 2 1997 TG Ken Storm on Way to LongLipKen Storm decides to also split from the expedition and join us on our unpermitted dash to Pelung. His study and knowledge of the Pemako area will be key to our extraction and exploration efforts.


97 #32

97 B 3 13 1997 TG Gil Ken Hiking to LongLipTroy Gillenwater and Ken Storm cross a cliff face over a primitive scaffolding on their way to Longlep.


97 #33

97 B 4 58 1997 TG Gil Troy on Hike to LongLipGil Gillenwater and Ken Storm get their first view of Longlep.


97 #34

97 B 5 75 1997 TG Monpa Father 2 Boys near LongLipArriving in Longlep late in the day, the few villagers welcomes us as family.


97 #35

97 B 6 19 1997 Troy Ken in LongLipWe are graciously offered a place to stay in Longlep. While waiting for dinner Troy Gillenwater and Ken Storm discuss possible escape routes out of Pemako. Our wet clothes can be seen drying in the background.


97 #36

97 B 7 23 1997 Communist Posters GandenIn addition to Stalin and Lenin, our host cabin sports a poster of the Kalachakra. In Vajrayana Buddhism this symbol represents the “wheel(s) of time” and is one of many of the tantric teachings and esoteric practices.


97 #37

97 B 8 20 1997 TG Valley View from LongLipThe view from our cabin’s glassless window is spectacular. The mighty Yarlung Tsangpo churns through the serpentine valley below.


97 #38

97 B 9 26 1997 Troy Ganden to RiverInitially, cloudless skies escort us on the trail back down to the river and the village of Gande.


97 #39

97 B 10 65 1997 CloseUp Konla KarpoA telephoto view of Kangla Karpo.


97 #40

97 B 11 19 1997 TG Monpa Boys KonlaKarpoTwo Gande boys with Kangla Karpo in the background.


97 #41

97 B 12 4 1997 TG Matuk Giving Troy ZuchiniOur “coincidental” second encounter with Matuk is the key that will unlock the guarded entrance to Pemako’s forbidden Inner Gorge for our clandestine expedition.


97 #42

97 B 13 22 1997 Troy Kids in GandenWe are such a curiosity in the sequestered world of Gande that the children follow us everywhere.


97 #43

97 B 14 133 1997 Gil Troy in Ganden w Local Porters copyOur two young Tibetan Sherpas, Dawa and Bhim, hire local porters to assist in our escape from Pemako. We are a motley looking crew. Left to right: Bhim (back row), Troy Gillenwater and Dawa (hands in the air) and Gil Gillenwater (far right). Many are wearing the scarves Gil Gillenwater have passed out.


97 #44

97 B 15 27 1997 TseBun in DistanceMatuk points out a tiny rock spire situated high on a cross-valley mountain shoulder (as seen in the top right of the photograph). This stone outcropping will play a pivotal role in our upcoming journey and in our lives.


97 #45

97 B 16 46 1997 TG Trail to Yarlung w KonlaKarpoWith an average annual rainfall of around 25 feet, these uncharacteristically clear Pemako skies are a true blessing. Gil Gillenwater hikes down a grassy shoulder in the bottom right of the photograph. 


97 #46

97 B 17 29 1997 Gil Near RapidWhile Dawa is negotiating with the porters we hike down and explore the river. Here we were 8,000 feet lower in elevation than we were when we rafted this same river three years ago - in 1994. Even at these lower elevations the “Everest of Whitewater” is earning its name.


97 #47

97 B 18 18 1997 TG Cable Crossing YarlungWith our porter dispute settled everyone jumps into action to set the lines and get us across the Yarlung Tsangpo River in the fading day’s light.


97 #48

97 B 19 86 1997 TG Porter Cable Crossing YarlungThe immensity of the Yarlung Tsangpo River gorge makes this late afternoon cable crossing a daunting task.


97 #49

97 B 19 16 1997 TG Yarlung Cable CrossingWe have 12 people and a lot of gear to cross in the fading daylight.


97 #50

97 B 20 31 1997 Porter on Cable Crossing 2The heights and churning waters below are daunting. Notice the lone porter at the top of the photo.


97 #51

97 B 21 149 1997 Porter Cable Crossing TsangPo


97 #52

97 B 22 60 1997 TG Troy Strapped in for Cable Crossing YarlungMatuk looks on as Troy Gillenwater gets lashed to the pully for his cable crossing of the Yarlung Tsangpo River.


97 #53

97 B 23 34 1997 Photo from Cable CrossingPhoto taken in the middle of the crossing.


97 #54

97 B 24 29 1997 TG Cable Crossing YarlungTroy Gillenwater is half way across his cable crossing of the Yarlung Tsangpo River.


97 #55

97 B 25 7 1997 TG Night Hike up to GogdenThis night hike brings us together as a group. The extreme circumstances allow us to better recognized our shared human condition. This bond will grow tighter as our journey continues.


97 #56

97 B 26 78 1997 TG Lopa Father Son w Florescent Pen LuguIn Lugu we peeked inside a small home. It is filthy. A Lopa man and his son lived there and Gil Gillenwater gives the boy a glow-in-the-dark pen. He hangs it proudly from his neck.


97 #57

97 B 27 38 1997 Troy in Lugu w White TaraIn Gogden we are offered a shrine room as a place to sleep. Here a thangka of the goddess White Tara is displayed prominently.


97 #58

97 B 28 14 1997 TG Monpa Boys in Room in GogdenTwo boys from Gogden. The locals are always so happy to see us.


97 #59

97 B 29 37 1997 Porters Yak Butter TeaOur porters Matuk, Brad Watts and Trashi Padi load up on yak butter tea in preparation of the day’s grueling hike ahead.


97 #60

24 1997 Communist Poster GandenIn Gogden we spy a propaganda poster tacked to a wall purportedly representing the harmony between the Communist Chinese military and the Tibetan people. To see this brain washing propaganda in a cabin this remote is absurd.


97 #61

97 B 30 36 1997 Lugu HunterIn Gogden the village chieftain proudly shows us his flintlock rifle. There are only three such rifles in the village.


97 #62

97 B 31 39 1997 Troy Marajuana in LuguUncharacteristically clear skies shine on Troy Gillenwater and the chieftain’s flourishing marijuana crop.


97 #63

97 B 34 40a 1997 TG Landslide AreaThe ongoing collision of two continents creates seismic geologic instability and constant landslides.


97 #64

97 B 35 25 1997 TG Porters Dangerous Crossing of Landslide Negotiating the many landslide areas is hard on our bodies as well as our nerves.


97 #65

97 B 35 40 1997 BW HIke up to TseBunLaThe steep climb out of the Yarlung Tsangpo Gorge to the Tsebung La Pass is two vertical miles in elevation.


97 #66

97 B 36 110 1997 Gyla PeriCresting the Tsebung La Pass we have our first view of the 23,891-foot-high Gyala Pelri Mountain. Standing on the Asian continent, it is only 13 miles away from the 25,531-foot-high Namcha Barwa Mountain situated on the Indian sub-continent.



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