Everest climb makes 13 the lucky number
July 3, 2003
May 26 was a day filled with significant 13’s; Mimi Vadasz became the 13th American women to ever summit Mount Everest, and Apa Sherpa broke his world record of 12 by summitting Everest for the 13th time.
Apa Sherpa was the Sirdar of the Everest 2003 team. The Sirdar is the Sherpa in charge of all other Sherpas on the expedition.
Apa has summitted Everest from both the north and south sides with and without supplemental oxygen.
Sherpas are a class of people living in the mountains of Nepal.
Out of the 1,500 people to ever summit Everest, 450 of those people are Sherpas.
“I was really glad to see that they get credit for being the ones to summit Everest the most,” Vadasz said. “Without Sherpas hiking Everest would be a whole other world. They carry the oxygen bottles, tents and fuel; all of the heavy things. We just had to carry our personal things.”
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According to Vadasz, to the people of Nepal everything is karma.
Since Vadasz and the rest of the team were traveling with Apa they had the chance to participate in many rituals and blessings at the monasteries along the trail to base camp. Apa meet with the Dahli Lama prior to his 13th attempt.
“To them the mountain is a women, they worship her. She is their goddess,” Vadasz said.
The people of Nepal refer to Mount Everest as Chomolungma or Sagarmatha.
Once arriving at base camp a poja is set up. A poja is an altar where items are placed to be blessed by a monk. The team placed most of their gear and pictures of their families and other things they would carry with them on their journey.
“Every time we were going to leave base camp and head through the ice falls we had to pass by the poja. Apa would burn juniper and throw rice. The juniper smoke was used to clear the air and make room for a peaceful accent,” Vadasz said. “The two who Sherpas fell into the Khumba Ice Falls on April 22 didn’t pass by the poja before beginning their climb. We became even more superstitious about passing by the poja after the accident.”
The juniper seemed to work for Vadasz, as she managed to have a completely peaceful summit.
“I hope Nepal and its people always keep their spirit. They are the most caring and giving people you’ll ever meet. They will give unconditionally and expect nothing in return,” Vadasz said.
For this trip Apa asked the Everest 2003 team to raise money to help the local school in his village of Thami. Currently the school consists of first through fifth grade.
The goal of raising money is to build classrooms and hire teachers to add grades sixth through eighth so kids won’t have to walk two hours to school.
In Nepal it would take $30,000 dollars to fund the school’s addition and staff for the next 10 years.
“Karma is the word for this entire experience. I always thought and believed it, but in the U.S. it’s not always the case. There they don’t want anything in return, they just do it because it feels good,” Vadasz said.