Loveland resident Matt Brennan has begun the ascent of the tallest mountain in the world. Currently above 18,500 feet and with temperatures dipping to 10 degrees and only getting lower, the climb is still young.
Upon arrival, Brennan underwent icefall training with his guides (Sherpas) and fellow climbers. Brennan held a poster made by Loveland High School teachers and Elementary School students in order to represent Loveland and shared photos on his Facebook page,
Matt Brennan of Cincinnati and The Conquering of Mount Everest.
On April 17th, Brennan took part in a Puja Ceremony, in which Matthew Brennan, his peers, and his guides asked Chomolungma (Mother Goddess of the Earth) for permission to climb the mountain.
The Puja ceremony is a Hindu ritual that is celebrated my some daily and others at important life events. Puja translates roughly to praise, worship and invocation. There are various forms of puja with varying levels of complexity and steps.
“[The Puja] an extremely emotional event given the fact the ceremony was held in the shadow of the Khumbu Icefall where, in 2014, many of our Sherpa lost relatives in the icefall collapse. I have no shame in the fact I spent most of the ceremony wiping away tears.
On April 18th, mountain climbing was closed in order to honor the anniversary of a tragic disaster resulting in the death of seventeen Sherpa in an icefall disaster four years earlier. The avalanche on April 18, 2014 lead to Nepalese Government-required changes in ascent route.
Of the 19 climbers who died that season, only two were uninvolved in the avalanche. What Sherpas believed to be poor government compensation for the deaths of their friends and peers lead to a strike and refusal to work on April 22nd. Now, the 18th is held as a day of respect for the Sherpas who passed in the Icefall. Not only is it a somber memorial, but it serves as a reminder of the perils that Mt. Everest holds.
A Sherpa is often misunderstood by western culture to be a specialized profession but is rather a Tibetic ethnic group. They are a multi-millennia old culture renowned for their skill climbing mountains. The group is specially adapted due to their thousands of years living at high altitudes and have literal super-abilities that assist in mountaineering. Sherpas produce twice the nitric oxide of most humans, have a higher metabolism and a hold a considerably increased ability to convert oxygen into energy, reducing risk for hypoxia.
While 18,500 feet is already a considerable height, miles lie ahead. The summit sits at 29,000 feet, and the six-week ascent is always, to some uncontrollable extent, uncertain. But, as Brennan frequently states on his Facebook updates, “it’s only walking uphill”.
Read more about Matt Brennan’s preparation and expectations for for Everest here:
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