Matuk ceremoniously offers three full prostrations and then beckons us to follow.
Takin skulls adorned mossy grottos along the shrine site.
An unnoticed crack in the stone led us to the inner sanctum of Tsebung “Million Lives”.
Gil and Matuk. The Tsebung “Long Life” ceremony included carving a notch in a stick for each year you have been alive.
Troy emerges from the birth canal of Mother Earth.
As we emerged from the womb of Mother Earth the storm abated and the skies miraculously cleared affording us unique views all the way into India.
Our telephoto lens captures a distant peak manifesting from the clouds (see top of photo).
The Dorje Phagmo Mountain – our guidepost into the Inner Gorge.
Leaving the trail, we climbed up into the unknown.
Our porters were anxious. Entrapment by monsoon clouds was a constant threat.
Hacking our way through the entangled rhododendron thickets slowed our progress and zapped our energy.
The geologic exposure was frightening. See Troy in the foreground on the bottom right and the porters dotting the top of the hill in the upper left.
Hiking on the edge of the rhododendron thickets was easier going. But the risk of a landslide and an endless fall was also heightened.
Our porters gain the ridgeline.
Fresh evidence of landslides and earth fissuring were everywhere.
On the steeper sections we were reduced to crawling on our hands and knees.
The higher we climbed the more spectacular the Himalayan views. Gil in photo.
As the mists got thicker and thicker our group spread out.
Every now and then the clouds would part and we would, with relief, see our porters traversing the same ridgeline.
Who was this apparition manifesting from the clouds? With no pack he wasn’t one of ours.
When the clouds lifted we saw our porters scattered all over. Note Troy and Ken in foreground and some of our porters in the top left on the distant ridge.
Suddenly the apparition, with his flintlock, charged us.
“Mystical Warrior from the Mists” Our guide for the next leg of our journey.
Our porters were truly people of the earth. Here they are breakfasting after a long rainy night. Their plastic rain cover lies nearby.
Namcha Barwa - 25,531 feet
Konlakarpo - 23,733 feet
Gyala Peri - 23,891 feet
The Konlakarpo peak (Sanglung) on the Indian continent, looms large on the left of the photograph. The Namcha Barwa peak, also on the Indian continent, is the pyramidical peak just to the right of Konlakarpo. The Gyala Peri peak, on the Asian continent, is situated on the far right of the photograph. Between Namcha Barwa and Gyala Peri lies the deepest gorge in the world. With these landmarks revealed we knew how to find our destination. The uncharacteristically clear weather allowed these to be the first photographs ever taken from this vantage point. The spirit of Pemako was with us.
We were miraculously granted clear skies and unprecedented views. Troy and I knew a divine guidance was at play in revealing this once in a lifetime experience. Luminous Kangla Karpo in the background.
With the 23,891 foot Gyala Peri in the center, Troy scopes out the guardian protector’s Dorje Traktsen Mountain on the left. This would be our gateway into the Inner Gorge.
Mesmerized by the mountain, our porters revolted and refused to continue. They understood that this was the guardian protector’s gateway into the Inner Gorge. To take Westerners into this most sacred place would incur the wrath of the local spirits. In this photograph Gil attempts to convince the porters to continue. His pleas, offers of more money and cajoling fell on deaf ears.
Our Buddhist shaman guide’s mystical dream the night before assured the porters that we could continue up and over the sacred mountain without incurring the guardian protector’s wrath. This would be our gateway into the Inner Gorge. In this photograph Matuk and the others debate the surest route of ascent.
In this photograph the porters can be seen as tiny specs on the ridge approaching the formidable Dorje Traktsen Mountain.
Troy readies to ascend the almost vertical slope up Dorje Traktsen. Porters can be seen inching their ways skyward.
Without ropes the exposure of this climb was daunting. Here we stop and take a break. Dawa is in the green shirt.
Gil approaches the summit of Dorje Traktsen.
Our Buddhist shaman guide, likewise, reaches the summit of Dorje Traktsen.
On top of Dorje Traktsen our porters got a “bird’s-eye-view” of the region they lived in but had never seen from this vantage. Dawa is in the green shirt with our Buddhist shaman guide to his left in the photo and Bhim to his right. Matuk points from the tip of the hill.
Rock solid Matuk on the left with a pair of socks I gave him, and our hunter/shaman guide who appeared from the mists on the right. Nobody could believe how clear the skies were. They told us the Pemako Guardian Protectors were pleased!
We were truly on top of the world.
The sheer grandeur of Pemako was an acute lesson in the transiency of continual process. Troy is in the left hand bottom comer of the photograph.
Troy and I realized this experience was a mystical gift. Pemako was revealing herself.
The porters were ecstatic to be on top of the mountain. In this photograph Matuk points our way down and into the long-sought Inner Gorge.
We were provided an unprecedented view into the Inner Gorge. In this photograph a porter marvels over the use of Troy’s binoculars. Bhim is looking at the camera.
Readying to descend into the Inner Gorge, Troy confers with our Buddhist shaman guide as to which route to take. Unfortunately, our hunter guide from the mists had never been this far out of his territory and could offer no advice. We would have to proceed on intuition alone.
With the clouds moving in, we began our long descent down Dorje Traktsen.
Our porters were rock solid as they descended into unknown territory. Note the line of porters tracing down the mountain in the upper right.
Sooner than expected our Buddhist shaman guide called a halt to the day’s march. He said the weather was too unstable to continue that late in the day.
We pitched our tent on the platform constructed by one of our Gogden porters. The porters camp is below.
Troy surveys the scene from the tent porch of our platform perch.
Our setting afforded us miraculous views into the upper portion of the Great Bend of the Yarlung Tsangpo. The gorge was so steep we couldn’t yet see the river.
Our porters’ camp. There was magic afoot as we all knew we were on the adventure of a lifetime.
With clouds moving in and out we proceeded to climb. In this photograph our porters can been seen in a tiny line on the left.
Gil and Ken look on as the porters gather crystals. They called the stones, “Vajrayogini’s tears”.
We were startled to find that Buddhist pilgrims had traveled this way many years before.
Another hunter manifests from the mists.
The hunter’s name was JamYang. We nick-named him the Gentleman Hunter.
JamYang knew the way to a large waterfall. We negotiated a price and he agreed to guide us.