I just finished reading every accessible document on Tsewang Paljor – the most famous dead body that lives above 8000mts.
BBC’s Rachel Nuwer investigated the sad and little known story behind Everest’s most prominent resident, also called as ‘Green Boots’. She traced every possible thing about Paljor and has beautifully articulated the story. There have been several controversies around Paljor’s death, but no firm action has ever been taken against anyone, because whatever happens in the mountains; stays in the mountains.
Paljor, a kind and happy soul, was only 28 when he lost his life climbing the Everest. He was a member of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force. If you type “Green Boots” into a Google search, you will learn that Paljor, along with climbing partners Tsewang Smanla and Dorje Morup, perished in the 1996 storm, immortalised in Jon Krakauer’s best-selling book Into Thin Air and, more recently, the big-budget thriller Everest.
He joined ITBP for two reasons: to support his family and to climb world’s highest mountain because the men who serve in ITBP specialise in high altitude landscapes – a necessity, given that India’s border with its domineering neighbour stretches across the Himalayas.
To be frank, all of this didn’t surprise me. People who love mountains, belong to the mountains and want to die in the mountains – and Paljor was no different. What caught my mind was his mother, Tashi Angmo. What about her! If you have read any of my previous posts you know how I love to be in the mountains. I live to travel – sounds better. I have a regular job and have been managing my travel by clubbing leaves with the weekends. But of late, the urge to travel and like they say ‘chase my dreams’ is getting stronger. So strong that I have been only and only thinking about what do I do next?
On Monday, I discussed my stray mind with my mother. She lured me into that conversation tactfully. I told her I am contemplating quitting my job and traveling for atleast a year. I spoke for about 20 minutes and she kept listening. I never thought she’ll let me speak for even a minute given she hates my travel plans because I chose not to get married and because I am turning 30 next month. Her only question was ‘what after 1 year?’, to which my answer was, ‘I don’t know’. I may come back and find another job, or may just start something in the mountains. The conversation ended there because she walked out of the room with a sad face.
Right after she left, I could literally see Paljor’s mother, Tashi Angmo, in front of me. I was imagining the conversation she and Paljor must have had when he broke the news about joining the grandiose mission – to become the first Indians ever to summit Everest from its north side. What would have been her reaction? Did she also walk out of the room? Or she stayed back to tell her son with a pat on his back that she is proud of him? I don’t know… I feel most mothers would react the way my mother did – more so because I am a girl. I just hope the rest of the conversations on this go well. Someday I want her to say “you are my daughter and I am proud of you.”
PS. all these pictures have been taken from Rachel’s article on BBC.com.