Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ascension of the Mont Toubkal

I am flying today to Marrakech in Morroco to climb the Mont Toubkal highest peak in Morroco. I am coming back on November 2nd

more info (in french): Le Toubkal (4167 m)

Point culminant de l’Afrique du Nord, le Djebel Toubkal domine de ses 4167 m les vallées encaissées où se dissimulent les très beaux villages berbères de Imlil et Tachdirt : la vie y est restée la même depuis des siècles, à l’ombre des amandiers et noyers centenaires, ponctuée par les rires des enfants et les vives couleurs des tenues des femmes berbères. Au pas des mulets de notre caravane, quittant la chaleur de la plaine pour la fraîcheur de l’altitude, vous parcourerez les terres des Bergers, où le thé à la menthe goûté dans le jour déclinant retrouve toute sa saveur. Un très beau voyage, dans le temps et dans l’espace, au fil des plateaux arides et des oasis de verdures des villages, ponctué par l’ascension du Toubkal.

C'est le massif ancien du Haut Atlas de Marrakech aux roches primitives et aux reliefs élevés et drus.

Il culmine au mont Toubkal, à 4167 m

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Welcome Paris

Paris by night (from Sophie Denis)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Last day in Kathmandu

It was fantastic journey

An experience for life
A life experience

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Buddhist mandalas

Mandalas are works of sacred art in Tantric (Tibetan) Buddhism. The word "mandala" comes from a Sanskrit word that generally means "circle," and mandalas are indeed primarily recognizable by their concentric circles and other geometric figures. Mandalas are far more than geometical figures, however. For Tantric Buddhists, they are rich with symbolism and sacred meaning. In fact, the etymology of the word "mandala" suggests not just a circle but a "container of essence."


Simply stated, a mandala is a sacred geometric figure that represents the universe. When completed, a mandala becomes a sacred area that serves as a receptable for deities and a collection point of universal forces. By mentally entering a mandala and proceeding to its center, a person is symbolically guided through the cosmos to the essence of reality. By constructing a mandala, a monk ritually participates in the Buddha's teachings.

In Tibetan Buddhism, contemplation of sacred images is central to religious ritual, and a mandala is one of the most important of these sacred images. A Tibetan mandala is usually made with careful placement of colored sand, and accordingly is known in Tibetan as dul-tson-kyil-khor, or "mandala of colored powders." In China, Japan and Tibet, mandalas can also be made in bronze or stone three-dimensional figures. In recent years, a variety of mandalas have been created using computer graphics, although these are usually created by non-Buddhists and are not considered sacred.

Constructing a Mandala

The process of constructing a mandala is a sacred ritual. It is a meditative, painstaking process that can take days or even weeks to complete.

Before a monk may participate in the construction of a mandala, he must undergo a lengthy period of artistic and philosophical study. In the Namgyal monastery, the personal monastery of Dalai Lama, this period lasts three years.

Traditionally, four monks work together on a single mandala. The mandala is divided into quadrants with one monk assigned to each. Midway through the process, each monk receives an assistant who helps fill in the colors while the primary monk continues to work on detailed outlines.
 Mandalas are constructed from the center outward, beginning with a dot in the center. With the placement of the center dot, the mandala is consecrated to a partcular deity. This deity will usually be depicted in an image over the center dot, although some mandalas are purely geometric.

Lines are then drawn through the center dot to the four corners, creating triangular geometric patterns. These lines are then used to construct a square "palace" with four gates. The monks usually keep to their own quadrant at this point.

From the inner square, the monks move outward to a series of concentric circles. Here the monks work in tandem, moving all around the mandala. They wait until each section is entirely completed before moving outward together. This ensures that balance is always maintained.

Although some mandalas are painted and serve as an enduring object of contemplation, the traditional Tibetan sand mandala, when completed, is deliberately destroyed. The sand is poured into a nearby stream or river to distribute the positive energies it contains. This ritual reminds those who painstakingly constructed the mandala of the central Buddhist teaching of the impermanence of all things.

Mandala Symbolism

In Buddhism, mandalas are rich with symbolism that evokes various aspects of Buddhist teaching and tradition. This is part of what makes the creation of a mandala a sacred act, for as they work, the monks are imparting the Buddha's teachings.
Outside the square temple are several concentric circles. The outermost circle is usually decorated with stylized scrollwork resembling a ring of fire. This ring of fire symbolizes the process of transformation humans must undergo before being able to enter the sacred territory within. It both bars the unitiated and symbolizes the burning of ignorance.
The next circle inward is a ring of thunderbolt or diamond scepters, which stands for indestructability and illumination. This is followed by a circle of eight graveyards, representing the eight aspects of human consciousness that bind a person to the cycle of rebirth. Finally, the innermost ring is made of lotus leaves, signifying religious rebirth.

The square structure in the middle of a mandala is a palace for the resident deities and a temple containing the essence of the Buddha. The square temple's four elaborate gates symbolize a variety of ideas, including:

•   The four boundless thoughts: loving-kindness, compassion, sympathy and equanimity

•   The four directions: south, north, east and west

Within the square palace or temple are images of deities, which are usually the Five Dyani Buddhas (the Great Buddhas of Wisdom). The iconography of these deities is rich in symbolism in itself. Each of the Dyani Buddhas represents a direction (center, south, north, east and west), cosmic element (like form and consciousness), earthly element (ether, air, water, earth and fire), and a particular type of wisdom. Each Buddha is empowered to overcome a particular evil, such as ignorance, envy or hatred. The Five Dyani Buddhas are generally identical in appearance, but are each represented iconographically with a particular color, mudra (hand gesture), and animal. See the article on the Five Dyani Buddhas for more information.

In the center of the mandala is an image of the chief deity, who is placed over the center dot described above. Because it has no dimensions, the center dot represents the seed or center of the universe.

Types of Mandalas

Tibetan Mandalas come in a variety of forms, but most are variations on the basic themes outlined above. Broadly speaking, there are two basic types of mandalas:
•    Garbha-dhatu (Sanskrit: “womb world”; Japanese: taizo-kai), in which the movement is from the one to the many
•    Vajra-dhatu (Sanskrit: “diamond world”; Japanese kongo-kai), from the many into one

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Back from white water kayaking

White water kayak is quite an intense experience. You have no control over the water, experience and technic would help you, but as I have none, so the first days were really tough ! I drink lots of water, swim a lot. Not as relaxing as expected, I have to admit :-)

I kayak on the Trisli River

Video of me doing a T-Rescue : White Water Kayak - Sophie doing a T-Rescue
More about the Trisuli River:
The Trishuli is named after the trishula or trident of Shiva, a powerful god in the Hindu pantheon.There is a legend that says high in the Himalayas at Gosaikunda, Shiva drove his trident into the ground to create three springs – the source of the river and hence its name Trisuli

Trisuli river starts from Betrawati (625m) and flows to Narayanghat (170m) covering distance of 141 kms. The river is approchable from Kathmandu by vehicle in 2 to 4 hours' drive and the river days would be from 4 to 7. The difficulty in class is 3+ to 4

Friday, October 14, 2011

Après l'effort le réconfort ...

I am going White Water Kayaking for 5 days.
Should be fun ....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Back to Kathmandu - Manaslu sum up in very short

I've just came back to Kathmandu today. Trek out via Larke Path was really good

Sophie summit Manaslu on Oct 4th 2011

Quick Manaslu climb sum up:

Approach: Sept 16th, after 8 days trek, I've finally made it to Base Camp. I have trek in with the donkey drivers. We had lots of work to make the way safe for the donkeys : building bridge, path, help the donkeys crossing rivers .... it was quite of an experience
Arrive at Base Camp on Sept. 24th.
First Carry: On Sept. 25th, I did a first carry to Camp 1. I carried about 15kg, and I was feeling very good. At that time, I knew that I could keep going and go up to 7000m with an heavy load. I did not sleep at Camp1 (5700m). I just went up to Camp 1 and drop a first load of gear, and went down to Base Camp (4700m)
Waiting for window: Sept. 26th and Sept 27th, it snowed a lot. Everyone went down the mountain as there was lots of avalanches between Camp 1 and Camp 2 and above in some sections.

Summit Push:
Sept 28th : Climb and sleep at Camp 1 (5700m) - load 15 kg
Sept 29th : Climb and sleep at Camp 2 (6400m) - load 30kg
Sept 30th : Climb and sleep at Camp 3 (6800m) - left behind me at Camp 2 half of the load - carry only 15kg up to Camp 3
Oct 1st : Go down to Camp 2 to pick up the remaining of my gear that I left the day before, then climb back up to Camp 3. Sleep at Camp 3
Oct 2nd : Sleep at Camp3 - wait for good weather
Oct 3rd : Climb and sleep at Camp 4 (7450m)
Oct 4th : Summit without O2 (As usual, I did carry a O2 bottle with me up to 8000m just in case, but I was feeling really good, and I did not use it. I start late, at 7am. So I did not carry my stove and pot :-). After summit, I went down to Camp 4 and sleep at Camp 4
Oct 5th : Went down to Base Camp
Oct 6th : Packing my bags at Base Camp
Oct 7th : Went down to Samogon, and start my trek out via Lake Pass

Sophie on the trek out : Manaslu Circuit Larke Pass
Pictures, Videos, .... more coming later ....

Friday, October 7, 2011

sommet du MANASLU le mardi 4 octobre 2011

Paris, jeudi 6 octobre 2011
Sophie vient de me téléphoner vers 17h00 pendant quelques secondes, avec un téléphone qu'elle a emprunté, pour me dire qu'elle avait atteint le sommet du MANASLU le mardi 4 octobre 2011 et qu'elle allait bien. Qu'elle était fière de son succès et que dès qu'elle serait dans un lieu où elle pourrait communiquer elle donnerait plus de précisions.
Elle voulait surtout rassurer tout le monde après un challenge si difficile.
Je dois dire que, pour la première fois, j'étais inquiet.
Yves Denis