Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy has restored Everest to its former glory

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The clothes do not make the man. We know the adage. However, looking at Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy sitting cross-legged on the sofa in the living room of a comfortable chalet which has been welcoming her since the start of the pandemic in Switzerland, one is struck by surprise. Where did this woman as thin as a reed draw the strength to climb Everest three times? She smiles and looks into yours, as if to converse with your soul. “If the will to clean up the mountain hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have seen the meaning of climbing it in any way,” she replies. Happiness is the way, says another aphorism.

In his biography Breathe, you are alive (Ed. Massot, 2020), she recounts her life course dictated by choices that are both sincere and radical. The first is taken 24 years ago in the streets of Calcutta. On a trip to the subcontinent, the then 16-year-old met Doctor Preger. This Briton known by the diminutive of Dr. Jack dedicates his life to the poorest in the streets of the Indian metropolis. The devotion of man to the weakest beings overthrows the soul of the adolescent.

On her return to France, she made the decision to leave her family and her native Dordogne to dedicate her life to learning compassion. Two years later, she shaves her head, takes a vow of chastity and joins a monastery to Mirik in the district of Darjeeling, in India, to follow the teaching of the one she will call her master, Bokar Rinpoche.

A joyful effort

The holy man quickly perceives the fire which burns in her. The young nun meditates more than six hours a day. She wants to learn. A lot. To do this, she begins the diligent work of cleaning up her identity. Faced with the many questions that she presents to her master at the beginnings of the four years of teaching that he will provide her, he ends up saying to her: “You want too much”, “You want too much”. Today, it is clear that Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy is incorrigible. The wise man’s sentence still echoes, but she smiles: “I have ambition, but my wishes are realistic.”

Like that of wanting to clean the highest mountain in the world. Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy does not name it Everest. She prefers her Tibetan name: Jomolangma, the elephant mother goddess. Climbing it was a 100% spiritual experience for her. Of its three climbs it keeps the memory of a joyful effort. “I only felt very positive emotions. The fact of lightening the mountain of its waste is gratifying. ” The sporting feat does not interest him. If she is close to the sky, it is to contemplate the link between man and nature. “Everything is interdependent, what we project on the environment will be returned to us,” she repeats.

Since 2016, with the help of the collaborators of Clean Everest project Purposefully created, no less than 10 tons of garbage were collected on Mother Mountain. Tin cans, plastics, beer cans, liquor bottles, meal wrappers are some of the main items. At altitude, it was the oxygen bottles and the tents abandoned on the mountain that had to be brought back.

This ant work carried out first on the back of a man between the summit (8,848 meters) and the base of the mountain, then of yaks between the forward base camp (6,500 meters) and the base camp (5,200 meters) is rewarded with a sum of money varying according to the weight collected. As for international organizations, they are ordered to return their waste under penalty of being banned from returning to the Roof of the World.

After four cleaning seasons, the mountain can now be considered clean. “However, there is still rubbish buried in the ice,” specifies Marion Chaygneaud-Dupuy. And a few corpses. ” Because if Everest no longer embodies the highest landfill in the world, it can still be considered an open-air cemetery. No less than 200 bodies dot its slopes not far from the summit. “It’s hard to get them down. It is as if they were clinging to the mountain, because their down jackets remain hanging on the rock. So we moved them out of the way and offered them a burial. ”

Towards the other

The nun who now prefers to be described as contemplative holds her cup of hot water in her hands, contemplating the Dents du Midi. She gathered all of her long black hair over her left shoulder. “I let them grow since 2016,” she slips. She feels good here in the Swiss mountains. With a free spirit, she took advantage of this forced exile to learn to ski and write her Memoirs. “Writing this book is part of my journey. For me, who walled myself in solitude for a long time, it is my way of bridging the gap and reaching out to others. “

Lhasa remains his home, however. She has lived there for eighteen years, since Bokar Rinpoche invited her to leave the monastery and see the impermanence of everything that shapes it. In the Tibetan city, in the heart of the Himalayas, she has reconciled with her body ignored during years of meditation and undertakes to revive the ecological traditions inherent in ancestral Tibetan knowledge. As soon as possible, she will return. The habit does not make the monk, but his path reveals his soul.


1980 Born in Périgord, in Dordogne.

1996 Travel to India, meets Dr Jack Preger.

1998 Join a monastery in Darjeeling and follow the teaching of Bokar Rinpoche.

2012 Creation of the Clean Everest project. She reached the summit for the first time the following year.

2016 First mountain cleaning season.

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