Conquering Mt. Everest’s impossible without Sherpas ①

Shown above is Appa Sherpa, who climbed mt Everest for 21 time

*This is the first of two-part story about the role of Sherpas they have played for the successful climbing of the Mt. Everest.

Kathmandu, June 14: Sherpas have been synonymous to mountaineering since the first Mt. Everest expedition of 1921.

“The first Everest Expedition of 1921 had seven to eight Sherpas including my grandfather,” said Ang Chhiring Sherpa, former president of Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA).

The first expedition to Mt. Everest, led by Colonel Howard Bury, started from Darjeeling India as Nepal was not open to the world then. The expedition that  included George Mallory  who died in the third expedition in 1924 while descending from Everest (it is still not confirmed whether he made an accent) had recruited Nepali Sherpas as porters.

Nepal opened to the outsiders only in 1949 so no Everest climbing expedition was allowed from Nepal until then. Thus, all the expeditions before the opening had to start from Tibet. However, all expeditions made from Tibet used to have Sherpas.

Before Eric Shipton managed to reach Khumbu region where the tallest peak lies, in 1949, six Everest climbing expeditions — in 1921, 1922, 1924, 1933, 1935 and 1936 — were made and all of them from Tibet. All these expeditions hired Sherpas, most of them as porters. The Dalai Lama of Tibet had imposed a ban on Everest for nine years beginning 1924 after the deaths in the Mountain increased.

Everest expeditions from Nepalese side began formally from 1951, two years after the opening. An expedition team led by Lord Hunt in 1953 ultimately became a history when two of its members — Tenzing Norgay Sherpa of Nepal and Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand — set the fist human feet on the top of the 8,848-meter peak for the first time.

Since then about 6,000 successful ascents have been made with Sherpas making the highest number of climbs. They also set several records in mountaineering. Of the total 3700 individuals to climb Mt. Everest, Appa Sherpa made record 21 ascents, Phurba Tashi Sherpa 19 ascents and Angrita Sherpa who is nicknamed as the Snow Leopard climbed it for 10 times.

Late Sundare Sherpa was the first person to scale it for the fifth time while Nawang Gambhu Sherpa was the first man to climb it twice. Both son and grandson of Tenzing had made it to the highest peak becoming the first family to have three generations to make successful ascents to Mt. Everest. His son Jamling Tenzing conquered it in 1996 and grandson Tashi Wangchuk Tenzing in 1997.

Ming Kipa Shrepa who climbed the peak in 2003 at the age of 15 years and nine months set the record of the youngest female climber. Likewise, Temba Tshiri Sherpa who scaled it in 2001 at the age of 16 was the youngest man to stand on the roof of the world. Pasang Lhamu was the first Nepali woman to reach the peak. She scaled it in 1993 but died while climbing down.

*To be continued.

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