THE SKY WAY EXHIBIT
La Via del Cielo becomes a multimedia exhibit on the Second Life platform
On the occasion of the celebrations of SL18B, the eighteenth birthday of the Second Life platform, Camp Italia Community Gateway presented the multimedia exhibition “The Sky Way” in collaboration with Explora Nunaat International, the Italian team that built the first Via Ferrata in the Himalaya.
«With this multimedia installation, Camp Italia Gateway wishes to celebrate the friendship between the Peoples and the excellent work of the Italian Team of Explora Nunaat International towards the direction of Peace and Cooperation between Italy and Nepal», explains Asia Connell, head of the team of Camp Italia on the Second Life platform.
«We are very happy with this collaboration between Camp Italia and Explora Nunaat – continues Asia Connell – we, as a Camp Italia team, strongly believe in the ability of virtual worlds to take on the value of a strong added value as an extension of real life as well as we know».
It is November 9, 2019 when the Italian team of Explora Nunaat International finishes the construction of the last piece of the highest Via Ferrata in the world, in Nepal.
November 14th when the “David Lama” bivouac becomes reality within a close collaboration between the Italian team led by mountaineer and explorer Davide Peluzzi and the Austrian team led by Josef Einwaller.
«The Rolwaling with the size of “Cinderella of the Himalayas” became the first to have a via ferrata and a bivouac for the safety of porters and climbers. Structures located in a strategic place, on the vertical rocks between the Trakarding glacier and the Drolambau glacier, the frontier of glacial research and the new Himalayan mountaineering», says Davide Peluzzi, President of Explora Nunaat International and Ambassador in the World of the Gran Sasso e Monti Park della Laga at the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park Authority.
But how did the idea of the Himalayan via ferrata, the first and highest of its kind in the world, come about? We asked two of the protagonists of this venture: Davide Peluzzi and Phurba Tenjing Sherpa.
“Ten years ago Explora was engaged in research on Arctic ethnic populations, in collaboration with some universities” – says Davide Peluzzi, founder and President of Explora Nunaat International.
And he continues: «Between 2006 and 2008 we conducted expeditions to Greenland. The Rolwaling Himal has become the second step of such research. Over the years we have also published in important scientific journals such as Nature, studies on the physiology of local populations, to better understand the mechanisms of adaptation to high altitude with the University of Bologna the BiGeA with Prof. Donata Luiselli, Prof. Marco Sazzini and Prof. Stefano Benazzi. In parallel to the scientific activities we started to carry out projects aimed at bringing development, I would say a rebirth of a region, the unknown Rolwaling Himal, in the early 2000s. Now it is the only valley in the Himalayas to have a refuge (Austria) at high altitude and a via ferrata (Italy). Among other things, this region, between Everest and Gaurishankar, also represents the new frontier of mountaineering. The still untouched and unnamed peaks are innumerable».
«The altitude at which it is placed makes it an excellent place to conduct research on high altitude physiology and therefore its use for scientific purposes cannot be excluded. Among other things – says Davide Peluzzi – I had the opportunity to speak personally with the astronaut Nespoli who expressed his interest in using the structure for the preparation of astronauts in a hypoxic environment. But it was not born primarily for this purpose».
«Our Explora motto is: “When Exploration becomes Cooperation” and the realization of the Via del Cielo was not the search for a record.
Nor a business. Otherwise we would have thought maybe of making it in the Alps – explains the founder of Explora – and I would prefer to define the Austrian refuge and the Italian via ferrata as two gifts for the Sherpa people. We Italians also gave them the 19 kg Milwaukee drill, used for the work. Among other things, I am convinced that when one sets out to achieve a record, the competitions are triggered. In short, we would never have been able to do what we have done, cooperating. Therefore, the Ferrata, the Via Del Cielo and the refuge were not born to provide aids only to western mountaineers. Then obviously the bivouac is open to everyone, by definition. We made them to protect human lives with a vision and attention to the local economy which is essentially linked to tourism with the awareness that the work of the Sherpas is highly exhausting “.
«The fundamental concern when you go to these areas and see boys in their 20s busy carrying tens of kilos of material on dangerous routes, is that they won’t get hurt. Suffice it to say that the upper part of the wall along which the via ferrata runs is called ‘the bomb’. Many have died up there. It comes natural to think of doing something to facilitate their work».
Davide Peluzzi concludes: «The story of why we built the Via del Cielo – Sky’s Way? During the Earth Mater expedition in 2011 in the Rolwaling Himal, I saw three of our porters burst into tears. I think they must have been 16-17 years old. It was a cold, very snowy April. There was a lot of ice and constant storms. We were on the rocky spur on which the ferrata leading to the bivouac develops today. I felt so responsible that once I returned to Kathmandu, in response to Undersecretary of Culture Sherestha asking me for a comment on the Himalayas, I said ‘No, I tell you about the people, the porters, the conditions in which they live … I’m going to tell about three guys’… I felt I had to do something and so the projects started. We started with the construction of an aqueduct in 2013, reconstruction of earthquake houses in 2015. Meanwhile the scientific research and human relationships continued with the knowledge and fraternal friendship with the members of the Team Dreamers Destination of Phurba Tenjing Sherpa becoming collaborators of the same group the Explora Dreams. Why are they there? I answer with an anecdote: years ago in 2013 Mingma G. Sherpa, the climber of K2 in winter 2021 asked me ‘Why are you here?’ And my answer was because the place where I was born is very similar with the same problems, only that the mountains are much higher».
“I feel very proud and honored to have a birth in Nepal, especially in my village in the Sherpa community. I belong to the Rolwaling Valley, located in the Dolakha district. I grew up there playing with the mountains just like children in Kathmandu play with cell phones or computers ».
Now speaking is Phurba Tenjing Sherpa of the Dreamers Destination team.
«Rolwaling is a holy valley, excavated more than 2000 years ago by Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava). Guru Rinpoche chose this place for meditation and stayed there for three months and returned to Tibet as written in the Buddhist script. There are ancient historical caves, different signs, ancient monasteries that make you believe that Guru Rinpoche was there. That is why the valley itself was hidden from the outside world to preserve and protect its holiness. I feel very lucky to have grown up in this holy place among simple and always smiling people».
«My ancestors, grandparents and father were farmers. They have potato and yak fields. My father used to cross the Tashi Laptsa pass to visit the Khumbu valley carrying loads of tourist luggage, simply because other people from lower altitudes could not survive the harsh conditions of 5000m. My brothers followed my father’s path and I, too, had no other choice. We became porters to earn a living: this led us to mountaineering and today we own a shipping company. Dreamers Destination Treks and Expedition Pvt. Ltd is my company and every season we organize trekking and mountaineering expeditions. When I look back, it is a difficult journey of life that we have been through».
«My village has it all. It is rich in natural flora and fauna, fresh air, fresh water, fresh food, surrounded by awe-inspiring hundreds of sacred mountains. It is quiet. For us it is a paradise. My mother lives there. She doesn’t like being in the city. But we don’t have electricity, school facilities, roads or the internet. We are only eight hours drive from the capital Kathmandu, however, my village is one of the most rural areas in Nepal due to its geographical structure».
«I visited Davide’s house in Italy. His hometown is similar to mine, surrounded by mountains and mountain people. Thanks to science and technology, there are many facilities to improve life and the government understands the needs of people in Italy. But the government of Nepal is not actually doing any significant work for the mountain residents».
«That’s why I was trying to change the status quo of my village according to my abilities. I was trying to build a health center and extend the roads to Tashi Laptsa Pass and do a biwak a few years ago, I think it was around 2016».
«My valley is part of the protected area of Gaurishankar where it is not allowed to disturb its ecosystem. More importantly, we villagers work together to protect local ethnic values and the natural environment. Also, my valley is a vegetarian valley, which means you are not allowed to kill or hunt for the sake of the flesh due to religious belief. We have the monastery committee, the Rolwaling Everest Summiteers Club, the forest consumers committee to regulate local rules and regulations. Due to geography, the only way to elevate my village is through tourism. I say we need more and more tourists: they could be botanists to study rare species found in Rolwaling, zoologists, anthropologists, geologists, medical scientists, astronomers (we have no light pollution at all, you can sleep under the Milky Way), and adventure lovers. , travelers, … anyone !! Tourism is the only way to make a proper living for the locals residing here. And I would say that my valley is not a commercial tourist destination, it is still unexplored and unheard by many».
«There is this famous quote, “Where there is a will, there is a way”, and my path led me to my friends from Italy. I heard I met some angels disguised as humans! They came to my village, adopted the local culture, norms and values of the mountain people and helped them. The health camps they had organized, the first via ferrata they had built in Tashi Laptsa Pass, the biological medical research they had conducted, are some of the examples of their contribution to the improvement of my village. I mean, why should they do it for someone far from Italy? But they established this high definition of friendship, brotherhood and humanity. I really thank the brothers Davide, Giorgio, Marco, Paolo and all the Explora Nunaat International team including all those sponsors or supporters who supported them».
EXPLORA NUNAAT INTERNATIONAL TEAM
1) Davide Peluzzi – President and Expedition Leader Creator of the Project: Earth Mater HIMALAYA
2) Giorgio A.Marinelli – Director and Deputy Head of Expedition
3) Marco Di Marcello – Explora Executive and Biologist
4) Paolo Cocco – Director and Photographer
5) Marco Sazzini – BiGeA Alma Mater Studiorum
6) Roberto Madrigali – Meteorologist in Italy via satellite link
7) Carmela Modica – Journalist and Explora Report
8) Lidia Di Blasio – Jmotion Video Agency
Camp Italia thanks Explora Nunaat International for the authorization to use the photos and videos by JMotion, granted on the occasion of the SL18B Celebrations!
You can visit the exhibition at the SL18B celebrations up to July 6th at SLurl>
*Team Explora Photo: courtesy Explora Nunaat International
**The Sky Way Exhibit 1, 2, 3 photos: courtesy Rig Torok