Record-breaking: The first one from Taiwan who reached two world's major peaks in 11 days
Exclusive Interview with DDM Honorable Director Grace Tseng
Grace Tseng spent 18 hours to complete hiking from 8000 to 8848 meters above sea level at Himalaya Mountain, a so-called Death Zone by hikers where the oxygen content was only 30% of its regular level. Grace was not able to wipe her running nose dry. Water coming incessantly from her nose turned frozen on her face.
No one lacking regular exercise routine would ever dream of mounting the 5364-meter high Everest Base Camp (EBC) as the first mountaineering destination. Yet Grace Tseng did it. Ever since she visited EBC with her photographer friends, she decided, upon looking up at the Roof of the World, to make it to Mount Everest, the highest peak of the world. None of her family and friends thought it feasible, but Grace succeeded in reaching the top on May 12, 2021. She made it by rigorously sticking, of her own accord, to her disciplined daily training of running 10-15 miles and climbing up and down stairs of 200-story high. Grace is the third Taiwan female to reach Mount Everest, but she is the first one from Taiwan who also succeeded in reaching the 8516-meter Lhotse 11 days after her climbing Mount Everest.
Such heroic feat was unimaginable unless it is accomplished, just as what Grace Tseng wrote in her Facebook – Nothing seems possible before it is done. One cannot but wonder what drove the 28-year-old Grace to do it!
When Grace Tseng first arrived at the EBC, she came across a senior mountaineer, who enthusiastically taught her much knowledge about mountaineering and shared with her a story of a heroic mountaineer who gave the highly needed oxygen and water at Death Zone to his companions that needed them more. The story had a great impact on Grace. She came to understand how admirable it is to show, especially during the time when one's own life is also at risk, empathy and put the kind thought into beneficial actions toward the ones in difficulties.
During the 50-day training period preparing herself to reach the summit, Grace Tseng realized further that mountaineering is all about how to be prudent and careful all the times, to forsake what one is accustomed to, and to learn how to walk along with death step by step. Before she started her adventure, she hesitated because her cruciate ligament was ruptured. Yet, she faced the problem, accepted the fact, and determined to continue exercising so as to strengthen the peripheral muscles to lend support to the rupture. Once she made up her mind, she let go of all her concerns and moved on.
Whenever bumping into obstacles, Grace Tseng was often inspired by Master Sheng Yen's teaching, which is never giving up by adopting the four steps in dealing with any problem: face it, accept it, deal with it, let it go. She said, "The Master's words ring in my ears especially at a place where it is even difficult to take a breath. Why should I fuss over people and things in my everyday life? With every breath possible, I cherish more what I have in my life. Life is eventual, so calm demeanor is what we need in facing life and death, just like mountaineering."
Enjoying the beautiful scenery at the top of the world must be heart-touching. Even though we cannot stand side by side with Grace Tseng to experience the beauty, but we should be able to share her feelings, just as what Master Sheng Yen has taught us, "Even with a single breath remaining, hope is unlimited, and that is untold wealth."
Grace Tseng has visited 192 countries when she was 26. She travelled light, packing in one bag all she needed for her trip of several months. In fact, the many necessities we think we need are simply out of our desire. After having stayed on the mountain top without the internet for more than 100 days, Grace came to the realization that it was simply fantastic to get along with the nature whole-heartedly.
Having explored the world, Grace Tseng considered smile the universal language. She considered other modalities in addition to language also facilitate effective communication, as she recalled she once ordered her meal in Uganda by picture-drawing. Based on her abundant world-exploring experiences, she believed if one really wanted to get anything done, one would have the ability and strength to make it happen.
When she traveled alone to a foreign place, Grace Tseng often thought about Master Sheng Yen's Dharma words: It's no use to be afraid, so why feel afraid? It's no use to have fear, so why have fear? She recalled her trip to Equatorial Guinea in Africa. She needed to transfer three times before arriving at her destination. She however missed one connection flight and did not know what to do at the transfer airport. Fortunately, one local passenger helped her to fly out on the connection flight the next day. Well said Master Sheng Yen, "It's no use to worry, so why worry?" One is never well-prepared until one is no longer bothered by one's own worry, anxiety and uneasiness.
If the Olympics is the temple of divine for the sportsmen, then the Everest should be the kingdom for the mountaineers. Grace Tseng has successfully made it to the kingdom. What then will be her expectation for the future?
Grace would like to reach the tops of the world's 14 mountains with peaks over 8000 meters. Moreover, she wishes to visit all member countries of the United Nation, and to travel to outer space. Her ultimate hope is to bring back all the experiences back to Taiwan, to encourage more to explore the world, also to make more know about mountains of high altitude. It goes without saying that one's will is the decisive factor for mountaineering. Grace aspires to encourage all to stick to what they love, to maintain their most beginning minds by never giving up.
Among Master Sheng Yen's words, Grace Tseng is particularly fond of the following postmortem verse: Busy with nothing, growing old. Within emptiness, weeping, laughing. Intrinsically, there is no "I." Life and death, thus cast aside. The verse is from the 108 Adages of Wisdom, which she was shared by the President of the DDM Fellowship of Honorary Directors, Charles Hwang, whom she became acquainted with on her way to Mali in West Africa. President Hwang also recommended to her the video clip of "The Original Face of Master Sheng Yen", which encouraged Grace to emulate and act like Guanyin Bodhisattva to me and to learn to contemplate that all sentient beings are like Guanyin Bodhisattva.
Grace Tseng, the heroine who made it to Mount Everest, is bravery itself. She is bound to endow many with generous positive energy.
(Interview/ Mei-wen Sun; English translation Lily Su)