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 Mt. Everest Climbing Sherpas and friends.  

 

SHERPA FAQ'S

[SHERPA CULTURE]         [SHERPA HOMES]  

 

WHAT IS A SHERPA?

The ethnic group inhabiting the Everest region. They moved to this region from Tibet over 500 years ago. Sherpas are Buddhists and believe the mountain is the home of an enlightened deity. The name "sherpa" literally means "people from the east" and not a person who carries your luggage for you as many people think. 

WHAT IS A PORTER?

A porter can be a sherpa living in the Everest region or a Nepalese living elsewhere in the Himalayas. A porter is the term used for the work they do carrying your luggage and other goods up and down the valley's to stock the villages or work for you on a trek. Some speak English but most do not.  Everyone is a porter at one time in their  life in the Himalayas. The ones that learn English and work with foreigners eventually start working in the tourism industry as guides.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE OF A CLIMBING SHERPA GUIDE and A TREKKING SHERPA GUIDE? 

All sherpa guides and other Nepalese guides working in the tourism and mountaineering industry follow rank. They start by learning a second language working as a porter be it Japanese, French, English, German and so on. They would learn these languages by working with international expeditions usually on Everest. Then they earn the time to learn in a cook tent on expedition, learn about food and get acquainted with foreigners. Some become such good friends during an expedition that members take them to their country where many find a part-time job working in the food industry before returning to Nepal with their newly acquired skills. After time they start working on the mountain and learning from their western mountain guides and eventually get certified by the Manang Mountaineering School establish in 1979. This enables them to work on the mountains a climbing guides. All sherpa guides must have their NMA card to work in the mountains.

Trekking sherpa guides or Nepalese trekking guides speak good English and have a good understanding of the area they work in.  They are sometimes sherpa climbing guides who for an example in the autumn are not on a climbing expedition so take up other work in the guiding industry. And some are guides that have no desire to work on the mountains because of the cost of the mountain school or are afraid from the haunts of lost family members in the mountains.  

HOW TO HIRE A TREKKING GUIDE

Be careful! Some arrive in Kathmandu and take a guide from one of the local trekking shops. Later they may learn this guide has not been to the trekking region they are taking you to. They will never tell you this but it becomes evident quite quickly that they are out of their comfort zone. Also be very careful doing it this way because sometime some of these guides have never been to altitude or have proper clothing for the cold nights and days on the trek. If you go this route make sure you ask questions and check their gear to see that they have proper boots, a sleeping bag, coat and rain protection.

Another way people sometimes do it is to arrive at the gateway of your trek like Lukla or Pokhara and select a trekking guide at the airstrip. Also be careful here! Worker's will walk for miles to try to catch a job in the industry. Some come for the lowlands where altitude will be a problem for them and access to adequate clothing will be even more difficult for the to acquire in theses regions. 

HOW TO HIRE A SHERPA CLIMBING GUIDE 

Hiring a professional climbing guide is like most countries where they are governed by rules and regulations in this capacity. They are complex requirements of proper permits, liaisons and applications and is best to work through a credible mountaineering organization when hiring a sherpa climbing guide. They do freelance and are connected to some Nepalese mountaineering organizations. 

WHAT DOES A SHERPA GUIDE COST?

Trekking guides work on a day rate. Some includes meals and some do not. This is open to negotiations and vary considerably.

WHAT DOES A CLIMBING SHERPA GUIDE COST?

Climbing sherpa guides depending on the mountain they are climbing, its location and height and duration determines their wage. Also a consideration is the infrastructure they work with, comfort, quality and number of members they are responsible for. Some companies pay more or less depending on the individual negotiations that take place pre-climb. Expeditions are required to provide an equipment allowance as set for by the Nepalese government. Many climbing sherpas today have substantial equipment from previous expeditions so they will opt to have the allowance paid in cash or, they will sometimes sell their climbing equipment one season and therefore need new equipment the next. Each season is different and so is the price.

 

THE LIVING LEGEND

Gyalzen Sherpa (Pal Dorje Sherpa) now 83 was born in Namche Bazaar in 1920. Uneducated due to lack of schools in the Khumbu at that time spend his childhood herding yaks and collection firewood. At the age of 22 he married a sherpa girl from Namche Bazaar named Pemba Lhaki Sherpa and had 9 children, unfortunately only 2 out of 9 survived and one we at Peak Freak's have had the opportunity to get to know.  At times when the house is full of just our team members she will bring her precious photo album out to share with everyone. 

Sherpas have been recruited as high altitude porters by expeditions as early as the 1920's. Because Nepal was closed to westerners, Darjeeling, near Kachenjunga in India was the base of all major climbing expeditions. Lots of people during his time migrated from the Khumbu to Darjeeling in search of mountaineering jobs.  The fancy clothing and wrist watches of the Sherpas who returned from such climbing expeditions. However, the youngest child his responsibilities were at home taking care of the yaks and trading salt.

When Nepal opened its borders to westerners in the early 1950's expeditions began recruiting climbing Sherpa from Nepal instead of Darjeeling. As a result he got his break in 19522 when the Swiss expeditions to Mount Everest guided by Tenzing Norgey Sherpa hired him as a high altitude porter to carry oxygen and supplies to the south col of 26000ft.

After 1952 he was well on his way. He worked for many expeditions including the historic Sir Edmund Hillary expedition with Tenzing Norgey Sherpa who summited on May 29th 1953. Being par of the successful expedition he was honored by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth It's Coronation Medal. 

He is one of the oldest surviving climbers in he world. A living legend for the Sherpa community. He still lives in Namche Bazaar at the age of 83.

FAMOUS SHERPA CLIMBER PASSES AWAY - July 14, 2008

Dear Becky, This is to inform you that Mr. Gyalzen Sherpa expired a week ago in Namche Bazaar. His funeral was held on July 7,2008. His wife Pemba Lhaki is now 93 years old and is survived by a daughter. their eldest son died of motorbike accident and the elder daughter died of cancer.

 
My father Mr. Pasang Futar Sherpa was also in the 1953 Everest Expedition with the famed Hillary and Tenzing. My father expired 8 years ago and I am his second son. Gyalzen Sherpa is my father's sister in-law ( married to my fathers younger sister now aged 93)

It is so nice to see you are keeping track of our senior sherpas for the world to see. 

Best regards,
Dorji Tsering Sherpa
Kathmandu, Nepal.

 


In memory of our dear Lhakpa Tsering Sherpa  

 

 


On Jan.1, 2003, the beginning of a new year, the phone rang with news that has deeply saddened many, the death of a wonderful man. December 30, 2003 Lhakpa Tsering Sherpa passed away. Lhakpa had just left our home in Canada late November were we had shared many memories of days gone by. Our lives are richer and have more meaning due to people such as Lhakpa. His unbridled exuberance touched many people around the world.  Without question, the world was a better place because he was part of it. We will miss him, but we will not forget him

During our many years of expeditions and travel we have crossed paths with thousands of people.  A handful of these people have affected us deeply and changed our souls forever.  Our dear friend Lhakpa Tsering Sherpa was one of those individuals. Lhakpa was introduced to us by Pat Morrow during our first trip to the north side of Everest with the 1991 Canadian "Climb for Hope" Everest Expedition.  Pat Morrow summited in 1982 with Lhakpa marking not only Canada's first successful Everest summit but it was also Lhakpa's first Everest summit.

This individual immediately caught my attention, an obvious extravert, characterized by not only his eccentric edge on dress, including the bright bandanas, but by his spontaneous laughter that erupted continually.  Lhakpa’s spunk for life was never hindered by language, situation, people or, even outrageous circumstances.

 

My very first experience of Lhakpa’s spunk and ability to disperse a difficult and emotional time was during this 1991 Everest expedition.  The time had come for the wives of the expedition team to leave the Tibetan base camp to head back to Kathmandu so that the climb could begin. The Tibetan driver was poised in his jeep anxiously waiting to depart.  Our good byes were long accompanied by tears and sad faces.  Lhakpa, being the playful catalyst for laughter, quickly jumped into the jeep and started blowing the horn to a tune in his head while bobbing up and down in the seat of the jeep. It was so hilarious that tears were turned into barrels of laughter.  Onward we went our hearts a little lighter and our spirits encouraged in that moment about leaving our loved ones to tackle the tallest mountain in the world.   That was our Lhakpa!!

 

Lhakpa was 49 years old and was born in Kunde in the Everest region of Nepal.   His parents passed away when he was a young man. He was raised by his Aunt Urken Doma and Uncle Pemba who didn't have any children.  Lhakpa is survived by his Aunt and has two brothers, Pemba Nuru who lives in Khunde and Ang Pemba who lives in Khumjung and two sisters whom are married, his older sister, Pemba Doma lives in Khunde and his younger sister, Pem Phuti lives in Khumjung.  Lhakpa is married to Nim Phutti and has two sons Sonam Tashi 16 & Ang Tshering 14.

 

Our company, Peak Freak Expeditions, began its life in Nepal in 1991 and Lhakpa became our expedition Sardar, trek leader and family.  Lhakpa’s family became our family. Lhakpa's wife Nim Phutti was a pleasant addition to the trips; she became involved with both our climbing expeditions and trekking groups.  She was almost as colourful as Lhakpa and loved to laugh as much as he, Lhakpa fondly referred to her as his "party girl".  We were also graced many times with the presence of Lhakpa's Uncle Pemba who herded the Zok's for our expeditions. 

 

Uncle Pemba slowly deteriorated over the years, his small frame becoming more fragile and his health more precarious.  The time came upon arrival into the valley, that I learned Pempa would not be meeting us in Lukla, his legs were too weak for the trip. With great concern I departed from my group and made way to his home in Kunde. I found Pemba enjoying the sun outside. We took some tea, thanks to Aunt Urken, and his binoculars, and headed off to the field to enjoy a moment together. Though Pemba’s English was sparse we always managed to communicate with no problem.  After finishing our tea we lay down on the freshly tilled potato field.  Tim and Lhakpa were climbing on Ama Dablam at this time and we were trying to see if we could spot them. It was the most magical afternoon. In our spirits we both knew that this was good-bye and I am so grateful for those moments we shared.  Those moments have a special spot on my heart forever, right next to the spot for Lhakpa. 

Over the 14 years that Tim and I knew him, Lhakpa never wavered in his friendships. He would seem to magically appear at just the right time. He always amazed me how he seemed to know the moment Tim and I had arrived in Nepal.  I remember a time when I needed a day in Namche Bazaar to recover from a cold.  Lhakpa heard of my situation and scampered down from Everest, a full days walk (by Sherpa measurements only) to bring me a power bar from the expedition cache and left a half an hour later back to Everest Base Camp. He seemed to have a knack with identifying people that were in need and acted quickly to help remedy the situation.  One time, during an Ama Dablam expedition I started to feel anxious and concerned, especially when the clouds rolled in preventing us from watching the team as they climbed.  However Lhakpa was right there. He quickly built a fire and started burning juniper for good luck.  The smoke created an eerie feeling at the camp magnifying my feelings. I didn’t want anyone to see how worried I was, so I snuck away to my tent to have a moment by myself but moments later the zipper was opened and Lhakpa jumped in. He lay down beside me, held me in his arms, and started to talk to me about how everything was fine, encouraged me to be happy that the team was so close to the summit afd everything was good. He even managed to break me up into a fit ob laughter, which was no small task during moments like thats we. We had some chuckles about his first visit to Canada to our home and discovered the dishwasher, first time on skiis, seeing the ocean for the first time and more. . All was forgotten, a cup of tea, and when he started to sing the words to a new Nepalese song at that time "Pani Man" which was about rain, teasing me about my tears. That was my Lhakpa!  

Both trekkers and climbers alike, from the many different expeditions, talk about Lhakpa being a major part of their Himalayan expe2ience. T(ere Are so many stories it couLd fill a book with the comments from the people whose heart he touched.  He was the epitome of the Sherp` quahities, compassion, laughter, joy, kindness, and generosity.  Lhakpa fully embraced every ioment.  A few of these memorable momentr include:  times he wou,d run ahead of the grou` to 0eel potatoes at the lodges so they could all have fanger chips for lunch (a big treat along the way), assisting with deliveping water bnttles and batteries for their head lamps in the dark during the early morning ascents on Kala Pattar, running (not walking) ahead to secure the nights lodging. Lhakpa was always very sensitive to everyone; every group was rpecial to him.  <span>He would invite each group to his home for lunch in Kunde as part of the trip.  A home that was filled with an eclectic mix of memorabilia, walls covered in old expedition photos of his climbs on Everest, expedition barrels and bags chock full of clothing and gear from past climbs.  He was always pulling out something to wear that had Canada represented on it.  While the trekkers and climbers were enjoying the visual journey through the past, a wonderful tea with goodies would be served.  That was Lhakpa! 

 Lhakpa contributed to 24 expeditions throughout his long and successful climbing career.

After several years of working with the officials Pat Morrow finally convinced the Nepalese government to let Lhakpa come to Canada in 1992, this was so exciting not only for Lhakpa but also for those of us he was visiting.  Lhakpa had never been outside Nepal, so he had never seen the ocean, never flown on a large plane, never saw such technological devices.  He traveled to Alberta and throughout the interior of British Columbia to visit all his past climbing partners and friends. Of course every visit was special!  There was just so much to share with our dear friend. He had a keen sense of adventure and never said never should it be Heli-Skiing, sailing or hang gliding, he was in.  

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the time after death can be very difficult and critical.  Those close to Lhakpa must send him their unconditional love and reassure him that though we miss him, all will be well with his loved ones that he left behind.  He must be able to continue his journey with our blessings, love, assurances and he must travel on the other side of the mountain in the same way he traveled on this side; full of confidence and joy.  I am sure that he can make this journey on his own, but it is easier and better to do it with the support of your loved ones.     

LHAKPA TSERING SHERPA CLIMBING BIO

  • 1979- Spring Yugoslav Everest Expedition

  • 1979- Autumn German Everest Expedition,/span>

  • 1980- German Kanchenjunga Expedithon

  • 1981- Yugoslav Lhotse Expedtion

  • 1982- Canadian Everest Expedition- summit with Pat Morrow

  • 1983- German/American Everest

  • 1985- American Everest (west ridge)

  • 1987- Snowbird Everest Expedition

  • 1988- Korean Everest Expedition- summit

  • 1991- Canadian Everest North Expedition

  • 1994- Canadian Everest North Expedition

  • 1996- New Zealand Everest- summit- Alan Hobson and Jamie Clarke

  • 1997- Canadian Everest- summit

  • 1998- American Everest with Tom Whitaker200

  • 2000- Canadian Everest South

  • 2001- German Everest South

  • 2003- Canadian Everest South

Pat and Baiba Morrow have organized an Education Fund for Lhakpa's children that we are in full support of and that assists us all in showing understanding and compassion to his family that is in Nepal.

Love is an action and we must join together and make sure that his family is well looked after until his children take over the reins of their extended family.

For more infnrmation on the Education Fund and to be kepT informed with updates on Lhakpa's family we invite you to contact: Peak Freak Expeditions.

 

Lhakpa Tsering Sherpa Trust


Lhakpa Tsering Sherpa Trust
Account # 8054-899
Branch #2543

BMO Bank of Montreal,
701 8th St
Canmore, AB T1W 2B2
Canada
 
There are several ways to make the deposit:
 
1-- Go to any BMO branch in Canada, and directly deposit the money or cheque (made out to Lhakpa Tsering Sherpa Trust) into the account.
 
2-- Mail a cheque (made out to Lhakpa Tsering Sherpa Trust)  to the branch in Canmore, and the money will get deposited by the helpful folks there.
 
3--- You can also wire money to the account, however, there’s a small fee at both ends of the transaction. For depositing (by wire) from outside Canada, please use this number: 25439-001-8054-899. You will also need to provide the bank address.
  
In case you need to talk to someone at BMO, Tracy Hoffman opened the account for us (tel: 403 609 6045).
 
The plan for the money is as follows. With advice from the BMO advisor, we decided on the BMO Monthly Income Fund which is a medium risk fund with an estimated return of 6.7%.
 
The hypothetical target we’ve set for the fund is $10,000, and with the guesstimated return of 6.7%, the annual payout to Nim Phuti over the next 10 years would be $1,340 . We’ll try to monitor whether this meets her actual needs and supplement it from our own pockets if necessary. The total accumulation of funds to date (June 24/04) is CDN $6,500 .

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