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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.

1997 A

 

97-A #1

97 A 1 38 1997 TG Hamid Mohawk BarbershopIn the military town of Bayi, Hamid emerges hairless from the Noble Lady Beauty Shop.

 

97-A #2

97 A 2 139 1997 Gil Troy Bunny PorterLeft to Right: Troy, Bunny, Pasang and Gil with his newly acquired mojo Mohawk. (Bunny would rarely look at the camera.) The fading double rainbow in the background burned brilliant a few moments before indicating the passing of a high Buddhist lama.

 

97-A #3

97 A 3 102 1997 Leech Troys AnkleInjecting an anticoagulant, leech bites can bleed for hours.

 

97-A #4

97 A 4 200 1997 Truck in Landslide“Landslide Alley” The geologic instability of the Great Bend area rendered vehicular travel extremely dangerous.

 

97-A #5

97 A 5 146 1997 Gil in Bhaka Showing Photos to MonksThe monks were spellbound by the photos of our 1995 Dorje Phagmo pilgrimage. Ani Rigsang, the tantric Tibetan nun, looks at the camera on the right.

 

97-A #6

97 A 6 198 1997 Ian Talking w Bhaka Porter MonksIan negotiating porter selections and daily wages with the head Bhakha Lama.

 

97-A #7

97 A 7 2 1997 Bhaka MonestaryAt the Bhakha Monastery, Ian becomes frustrated with the porters’ increasing wage demands.

 

97-A #8

97 A 8 7 1997 Group Bhaka MonestaryLining up at the Bhakha Monastery for a departing photo, many would not look at the camera. Standing in the back row on the right, Gil and Troy in white shirts, then Ian and the head Bhakha Lama (with yellow sleeves). Ani Rigsang, the tantric Tibetan nun, is on the far right of the back row.

 

97-A #9

97 A 9 145 1997 Troy Hiking JungleEntering the jungles of Pemako brought back many painful memories.

 

97-A #10

97 A 10 153 1997 Troy Hiking SulaTroy hiking the ice fields up to Su La Pass.

 

97-A #11

97 A 11 12 1997 Gil Troy Sula PassLeft to Right: Pasang, Gil, Troy & Ani Rigsang on top of the Su La Pass. According to Ian, we were the first Westerners to hike this Pass.

 

97-A #12

97 A 12 28 1997 Troy Crossing WaterfallThere was water everywhere. Here Troy negotiates a slick two log bridge over a tumbling cascade. A slip would have been disastrous.

 

97-A #13

97 A 13 60 1995 TG 2 Porters Drink Yak Butter Tea w Crazy Nun or Ani LaArriving at the end of the day we found two porters and Ani Rigsang enjoying a cup of tea at Cabin Camp. It had been a long day with over 4,000 feet of climbing. Soon the others staggered in and the cabin was stuffed with bodies. Nobody minded – at least it was dry.

 

97-A #14

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

 

97-A #15

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

 

97-A #16

97 A 16 160a 1997 Troy Porters Crossing StreamIt was a very steep descent with water everywhere. Here Troy and the porters cross a makeshift bridge.

 

97-A #17

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

 

97-A #18

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

 

97-A #19

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

 

97-A #20

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

 

97-A #21

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-A #22

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

 

97-A #23

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

 

97-A #24

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

 

97-A #25

97 A 22 90 1997 TG Troy Gil Chimed Gompa Lobsong Porter in TerrassaA surprise visit from our 1995 porters. We are convinced Chimed Gompo saved our lives on that fateful expedition. Left to Right: Chimed Gompo (avoiding the camera), Troy, Lobsang, Gil & porter friend (avoiding the camera).

 

97-A #26

97 A 23 151 1997 Gil Dawa Interview Chimed Gompa in Terrasa copyDawa translates as Gil records the conversation..

 

97-A #27

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

 

1997 B

 

97-B #1

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

 

97-B #2

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 would be key to our extraction and exploration efforts.

 

97-B #3

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

 

97-B #4

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

 

97-B #5

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

 

97-B #6

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

 

97-B #7

97 B 7 23 1997 Communist Posters GandenIn addition to Stalin & Lenin, our host cabin sported 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-B #8

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

 

97-B #9

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

 

97-B #10

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

 

97-B #11

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

 

97-B #12

97 B 12 4 1997 TG Matuk Giving Troy ZuchiniOur “coincidental” 2nd encounter with Matuk was the key that unlocked the guarded entrance to Pemako’s forbidden inner gorge for our clandestine expedition.

 

97-B #13

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

 

97-B #14

97 B 14 133 1997 Gil Troy in Ganden w Local Porters copyOur 2 young Tibetan Sherpas, Dawa & Bhim, hired local porters to assist in our escape from Pemako. We were a motley looking crew. Pictured: Back row left, Bhim, Troy and Dawa (hands in the air) with Gil on the far right. Many were wearing the scarves Gil passed out.

 

97-B #15

97 B 15 27 1997 TseBun in DistanceMatuk pointed 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 would play a pivotal role in our upcoming journey and in our lives.

 

97-B #16

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

 

97-B #17

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

 

97-B #18

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

 

97-B #19

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

 

97-B #20

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

 

97-B #21

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

 

97-B #22

97 B 21 149 1997 Porter Cable Crossing TsangPo

 

97-B #23

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

 

97-B #24

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

 

97-B #25

97 B 24 29 1997 TG Cable Crossing YarlungTroy is half way across.

 

97-B #26

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

 

97-B #27

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

 

97-B #28

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

 

97-B #29

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

 

97-B #30

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

 

97-B #31

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

 

97-B #32

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

 

97-B #33

97 B 33 206 1997 LandslideConstant landslides kept us on edge and often erased our trail.

 

97-B #34

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

 

97-B #35

97 B 35 25 1997 TG Porters Dangerous Crossing of Landslide Negotiating the many landslide areas was hard on your body as well as your nerves.

 

97-B #36

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

 

97-B #37

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

 

97-B #38

97 B 38 41 1997 BW Matuk TseBunMatuk ceremoniously offers three full prostrations and then beckons us to follow.

 

97-B #39

97 B 39 33 1997 TG Troy w Takin Skulls Tsebum1Takin skulls adorned mossy grottos along the shrine site.

 

97-B #40

97 B 40 66 1997 TG B W Troy in Tsebom TunnelAn unnoticed crack in the stone led us to the inner sanctum of Tsebung “Million Lives”.

 

97-B #41

97 B 41 43 1997 BW Gil Matuk w 1000 Lives SticksGil and Matuk. The Tsebung “Long Life” ceremony included carving a notch in a stick for each year you have been alive.

 

97-B #42

97 B 42 65 1997 TG B W Troy Emerging from Tsebum TunnelTroy emerges from the birth canal of Mother Earth. 

97-B #43

97 B 43 46 1997 Clear Skies to IndiaAs 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.

 

97-B #44

97 B 44 53 1997 TG Gyala Peri Above GorgeOur telephoto lens captures a distant peak manifesting from the clouds (see top of photo).

 

97-B #45

97 B 45 47 1997 BW Dorje Phagmo MtnThe Dorje Phagmo Mountain – our guidepost into the Inner Gorge.

 

1997 C

 

97-C #1

97 C 1 48 1997 Off Trail Up to Inner GorgeLeaving the trail, we climbed up into the unknown.

 

97-C #2

97 C 2 142 1997 Porters Hiking up Misty RidgeOur porters were anxious. Entrapment by monsoon clouds was a constant threat.

 

97-C #3

97 C 3 49 1997 Troy Porters Making TrailHacking our way through the entangled rhododendron thickets slowed our progress and zapped our energy.

 

97-C #4

97 C 4 143 1997 Troy Porters Hiking up Exposed RidgeThe 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.

 

97-C #5

97 C 5 186 1997 Troy Portes on Hidden Falls ScoutHiking on the edge of the rhododendron thickets was easier going. But the risk of a landslide and an endless fall was also heightened.

 

97-C #6

97 C 6 144 1997 Porters Hiking Exposed RidgeOur porters gain the ridgeline.

 

97-C #7

97 C 7 50 1997 Porters on RidgelineFresh evidence of landslides and earth fissuring were everywhere.

 

97-C #8

97 C 8 52 1997 Climbing Trail on PeakOn the steeper sections we were reduced to crawling on our hands and knees.

 

97-C #9

97 C 9 61 1997 Gil HikingThe higher we climbed the more spectacular the Himalayan views. Gil in photo.

 

97-C #10

97 C 10 54 1997 Hiking up to Pass in MistAs the mists got thicker and thicker our group spread out.

 

97-C #11

97 C 11 53 1997 Porters on Ridge in MistEvery now and then the clouds would part and we would, with relief, see our porters traversing the same ridgeline.

 

97-C #12

97 C 12 55 1997 Hunter in Appears in MistWho was this apparition manifesting from the clouds? With no pack he wasn’t one of ours.

 

97-C #13

97 C 13 89 1997 TG Troy Ken in Rhododendron Tiny Porters BehindWhen 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.

 

97-C #14

97 C 14 156 1997 1st Hunter Running GilSuddenly the apparition, with his flintlock, charged us.

 

97-C #15

97 C 15 56 1997 Hunter from Mists“Mystical Warrior from the Mists” Our guide for the next leg of our journey.

 

97-C #16

97 C 16 54 1997 TG Poerter Lunch in GorgeOur porters were truly people of the earth. Here they are breakfasting after a long rainy night. Their plastic rain cover lies nearby.

 

97-C #17

97 C 17 64 1997 Mtn near Namche BarwaNamcha Barwa - 25,531 feet

 

97-C #18

97 C 18 120 1997 Konla KarpaKonlakarpo - 23,733 feet

 

97-C #19

97 C 19 121 1997 Gyala PeriGyala Peri - 23,891 feet

 

97-C #20

97 C 20 195 1997 NamcheBarwa Traksen Gyala PeriThe 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. 

97-C #21

97 C 21 22 1997 TG Gil Troy w KonlaKarpoWe were miraculously granted clear weather and unprecedented views.

 

97-C #22

97 C 22 68 1997 Troy Traksen Gyala PeriWith 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.

 

97-C #23

97 C 23 32 1997 TG Tiny Porters Base of Dorje DraksenOur Buddhist shaman guide’s mystical dream assured the porters that we could continue without incurring the guardian protector’s wrath. In this photograph they can be seen as tiny specs on the ridge approaching the formidable Dorje Traktsen Mountain – the gateway into the Inner Gorge.

 

97-C #24

97 C 24 92 1997 TG Troy Starting Dorje Draksen ClimbTroy readies to ascend the almost vertical slope up Dorje Traktsen. Porters can be seen inching their ways skyward.

 

97-C #25

97 C 25 72 1997 Climbing TraksenWithout ropes the exposure of this climb was daunting. Here we stop and take a break. Dawa is in the green shirt.

 

97-C #26

97 C 26 73 1997 Gil Reaching Summit TraksenGil approaches the summit of Dorje Traktsen.

 

97-C #27

97 C 27 74 1997 Hunter Reaching Summit TraksenOur Buddhist shaman guide, likewise, reaches the summit of Dorje Traktsen.

 

97-C #28

97 C 28 75 1997 Porters Atop TraksenOn 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.

 

 

 

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