Chile

Mt. Aucanquilcha
Vase planted by Mark Bloom, Tess Burrows, Pete Hammond, Shui Lee, Denis MacDermot, Oliver Muncaster, Jo Say and Migmar Tsering on Earth Peace Day, January 1, 2000

‘Climb for Tibet, a cry from the highest mountain’ –

A Tibetan and Chinese stood together in unity on the first day of the new millenium, at the summit of Aucanquilcha, in the Andes at 6,176 metres high, the point on Earth nearest the sun.  They were making a symbolic gesture, as a way of moving forward in solidarity, for humanity.    During the climb, along with burying the peace vase, they released over 2000 peace messages written on biodegradable rice paper, that had been gathered from people around the world.

“In the darkness of 3 am, the prayer flags which marked the gateway to the higher mountain were barely visible.  I could just hear the flutterings of the yellow one that we had soaked in the sacred waters of Lake Titicaca and which stated ‘May all beings be happy…’.  The enveloping ice cold blackness gripped our tents at 5,300 metros base camp in the same way the intense focus of the climb ahead blocked out any surrounding thoughts through the short restless attempt at sleep.  Our team was ready.  We hoped that the weeks of hard work training and acclimatizing through Bolivia would outweigh the group’s lack of mountaineering experience.

10 hours later, we were struggling under acute sun-fry, up the volcanic summit dome, worrying about getting to the summit by 1:35 pm to release the messages.  We were on two ropes.  Pete’s group was ahead arduously pushing the trail through exceptionally heavy snow conditions of the last few days.  The effort to turn my head around to see the group behind me was exhausting.  There was no way to stop without endangering the flow of the climb.  Step up, step up, step up, gasp the sulphur spewing air.  I had a feeling everyone was desperately tired.  But we made it to the top with the weight of all the precious items lightened by the fact that they were so precious…the peace vase, the Life Foundation world peace lamp to be lit, a whale stone from Canada, seeds from around the world, melted snow from Chimborazo, water from Lake Titicaca, the prayer flags, a picture of His Holiness.  Looking up through tears, I saw a perfect halo of a huge rainbow around the sun.”  (Tess Burrows)