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Sherpa saw ghosts on record Everest climb
image story

Jun 15, 2004 21: 23 EST
Jun 14, 2004 12: 22 EST

Pemba Dorji Sherpa who claims to have broken the Everest speed ascent record on May 21, told AFP he saw "black shadows" near the summit on his way up.

"When I paused at a mound of rocks I saw some spirits in the form of black shadows coming towards me, stretching their hands and begging for something to eat," he said.

"I think those were the spirits of the many mountaineers killed during and after their ascent of Mount Everest. The bodies of many of those who died are still on the mountain and one climber who died from an accidental fall is still hanging from a rope," Pemba said.

In fact, a team on Everest this year looking for the body of Sandy Irvine came across another body high up on the North side. They inspected the "heavily damaged" corpse and then gave him a "legal burial"; no positive determination of the climber’s nationality or religion was made.

"We believe in the existence of the spirits of the dead and feel the need to perform death rituals," Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association told AFP.

For most climbers it is believed a body should be left where it is on the mountain out of respect for the mountaineer; alikened to a burial at sea. Also, burial rites differ among religions and cultures and performing one ceremony or burial could be found offensive.

Pemba is embroiled in a controversy of his own however, with the tourism ministry investigating claims by Lakpa Gelu Sherpa, who was previously verified the fastest Everest climber, that the weather was too foul and there were no witnesses to ascertain Pemba's feat. Check out the previous story on the contested speed ascent record.

In certain conditions, a mountain like Everest starts to project itself in the sky. A giant, spooky shadow of the mountain rises above it. Climbers call it the mountain ghost. One is rock; the other is a mirage. One is reality and the other a dream. But both are real.

Image of mountain ghost - Shadow of Everest at sunrise courtesy of Wally Berg.

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