Below the mountains of ancient Nepal, a young man born into a Sherpa family imagines a peaceful world. When he ascends Nepal’s high altitude trekking regions, he imagines every flag of every country on Planet Earth blowing in the thin air of Mt. Everest. He visualizes these flags as beacons of hope, friendship and world peace.
|Photo courtesy of Phurba Thile Sherpa|
“The highest of the world’s mountains, it seems, has to make but a single gesture of magnificence to be the lord of all, vast in unchallenged and isolated supremacy.” George Mallory, 1924
|Phurba Thile Sherpa|
Phurba Thile Sherpa dreams big. The Nepal mountaineer and tour operator is, in fact, promoting his dream, The Mount Everest Expedition for Global Peace 2014.
His history indicates his willfulness to make his vision of world flags brandishing harmony into the air we breathe, may bear fruit. But there are mountains of money and project coordination to climb and conquer first.
“All the winds of Asia seemed to be trying to blow us from the ridge.”Peter Boardman, 1975, about the South Summit
Phurba grew up in the remote Rolwaling Valley near Dolakha just south of the Tibetan border. His family’s livelihood came from raising sheep and yaks. With little formal education, but a keen ear to the language of visiting tourists eager to explore and trek an unspoiled region, Phurba learned several languages including Japanese, English, Hindi and Bengali. In 1988 he started as a mountaineering porter for high altitude trekkers and worked his way thru to his position today–mountaineer and tour operator.
Perhaps it’s the rich life found along these mountain treks, or the glory of absolute silence in opposition to a clamorous world that lead this mountaineer to cringe at the pain and conflict he witnessed when away from his Himalayan home. Phurba explains, “There was conflict in the name of politics, religion, caste, gender,or social status…Lots of people know Nepal as a peaceful country, but there were frequent clashes among people for reasons unseen by the outer world. I personally suffered from conflict in Nepal. As I began to see (the) outer world, I came to know we were not (the) only (ones) to suffer from conflict. There were greater violence and terrorism in (the) world. I came to know about world wars, cold war and many other wars… I realized that millions of people lost their lives in the wars and more lives suffered from violence in war. Millions and millions of people lost their loved one. And wars always have after effect and usually start bitter rivalry among groups involved in war.”
He resolved that without trust and friendship there would be no peace.
|Photo by Claudia Thompson|
“The end of the ridge and the end of the world… then nothing but that clear, empty air. There was nowhere else to climb. I was standing on the top of the world.” Stacy Allison, first American woman to summit Everest
“The only thing I know is mountaineering,” Phurba begins. “Mountaineering is an effective way to send friendship and peace messages to all the people.”
But why flags on Mt. Everest? The trek is expensive. The climbing permit, alone, is about $70,000. By the time equipment, climbing guides and supporters are added, tents, technical climbing equipment, oxygen, food, camera equipment, etc., this proposed expedition tips the $300,000 mark. But for the cause of friendship, Phurba has determined that it must be Everest because “…it is world heritage that is known to all…peace is not possible without friendship among every nation in the world. Every country must be involved in this project. And the best way to involve and unite every country in bond of friendship is to use their national symbolic pride, national flag,” the mountaineer explains.
Once the flags fly on Everest he intends to return them to their respective nations “…with friendship and peace messages after (the flag) reached the highest point of the world.”
Symbolic. Magical. Photographic. Possible.
|Trail to Mt. Everest. Photo by Claudia Thompson|
“Everest is a matter of universal of human endeavor, a cause from which there is no withdrawl, whatever loses it may demand” G.O. Dyrenfurth
The Mount Everest Expedition for Global Peace will not be Phurba’s first climb up Everest. He’s trekked it before and understands the immense effort and the near-mystic sense of accomplishment when standing on top of the world.
The target date for the climb is May 2014, but between communication issues, like the 12 hours of electricity allotted to his home each day, slow internet, and perhaps his dream overpowering the stark reality of raising funds to manage the climb, the project may be pushed forward to a later date.
The world is blessed with the kindhearted and cursed with those of wicked hearts. Phurba Thile Sherpa believes that the kindhearted will join his cause and the wicked will accept his friendship and peace shall begin as each flag from every nation blows in the wind.
|Photo by Claudia Thompson|
“Altitude is the great equalizer” Anonymous