This morning, after breakfast, we had our Puja at base camp. The entire team attended the Puja including all climbers, climbing sherpas, and kitchen staff. The Puja began with two our our Sherpas chanting together from the dharma (teachings of Buddha). A short while later, there were joined by a Lama from a neighbouring team (it’s not unusual for a team to have a Lama since many Sherpa families send one or more children to spend some time studying in a monastery or nunnery. Once the Lama arrived, the Puja proceeded in similar ways to past ones with more chanting, rice throwing, and terma cake and buckwheat flour (tsampa) eating/tossing. Terma cake is made by mixing tsampa with butter and sugar. As part of Buddhist rituals, terma cake is moulded into elaborate forms. Tsampa is one of the staple foods of Sherpas and Tibetans. They often carry a small sack of the flour and mix it with water into balls they eat with vegetables. I like tsampa best as pancakes or terma cake.
The Puja closed with snacks and beverages. Different than past Pujas, the atmosphere was less party like and more somber. It also lasted about twice as long as in past years (about 3 hours).
After, we took pictures of the entire team all dressed in our puffy red jackets and I presented all of the staff with their Recreation Newfoundland and Labrador Find Your Fit Buffs. The buffs are bright orange and should complement the puffy red jackets really well.
We’ll spend the rest of the day sorting and packing our gear, having a briefing on our cooking stoves, and on our oxygen systems.