Sherpa - The Mountaineering Guide

  • Hemanta Budhathoki
  • Last Updated on Jul 22, 2024

Table of Contents

Sherpa, also called Sharwa is one of the Tibetan ethnic groups that reside in the eastern region of Nepal. They are inhabitants of Khumbu Valley, which surrounds Mt.Everest. Sherpas are considered elite Mountain Climbers in the World. They have developed genetic adaption for living at high altitudes in the Himalayas. They are accustomed to living in mountains and are very courageous people ready for any challenging adventures. In the field of mountaineering, Sherpas are well-renowned climbers internationally.

One of the well-known Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay along with Edmund Hillary became the first people to reach the summit of Mt. Everest in 1953. Temba Tsheri Sherpa became the youngest climber in the world at the age of 16. Likewise, Pemba Dorje Sherpa is the fastest person to reach the Summit of Everest from the Base Camp in a time of 8hrs 10 min. One of the most famous Nepali female climbers to reach the summit of Mt. Everest was Pasang Lhamu Sherpa also the first Nepali woman to reach the summit. Mingma Sherpa was the first Nepali and first South Asian to climb all the 14 highest mountains in the world. He then became the first mountaineer to climb the world’s highest mountain in the first attempt. There are many other notable Sherpas who have climbed high mountains and set records.

edmund hillary and tenzing norgay sherpa

Nepal is famous for mountaineering sports. There are eight out of the fourteen mountains in the world that exceed 8000m: Mt.Everest (Highest Peak in the World), Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, and Annapurna, in Nepal. With more opportunities for mountain climbing and many challenging adventures including less known trekking peaks that require trekking gears and skills, Nepal is a heaven for adventurous mountaineers in the world. Thousands of adventure-loving mountaineers and hikers come here for testing their skills, enduring and fulfilling their desire to reach the summit of the Himalayan peak. Mt. Everest and Annapurna are the main attraction for adventure lovers. There are many other mountain peaks that also suitable for climbing beginners. Mountaineers hire guides to accompany them for climbing these tough mountains. As Sherpas are nature gifted expert climbers, most of them are engaged in this field for guiding tourists’ climbers.

Sherpa - Mountain Guide

Sherpa - The Mountaineering Guide

Sherpas are easy-going and happy people. Despite their apparent climbing talent, sherpas had not attempted to scale the region’s mountain until the 20th century. They have accepted mountaineering as a way of life since then. They take pride in their mountaineering heritage. As Sherpas are stronger in high altitude than anyone else, they are well-suited for alpine-style Expeditions on the Himalayas. Climbers mainly need them to carry the oxygen, the gears and as a safety on the summit path. Many of the solo climbers actually bring Sherpas all the way up to the summit. Sherpas are valuable to aid climbers, as the climb is tough for anyone else who is not adapted to high altitude.

The word “Sherpa” has become a job description for almost any guide or climbing supporter for any mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayan but it is not necessarily filled with ethnic Sherpas. Some of the successful Sherpas employ non-Sherpa ethnicities to carry loads for them and their clients although they only go up to the base camp. From there, highly specialized and usually of Sherpa ethnicity guide continue to the higher camps and summits. The higher altitude jobs are very dangerous and tough, requiring more experienced Sherpas who earn higher pay.

Sherpa - The Mountaineering Guide

Sherpas are genetically adapted guardian angels of the Himalayas. They retain their respect for the mountains. They view the mountains as the home of Gods. They attempt to prevent climbing foreign mountaineers from engaging in profaning and polluting activities such as killing animals and burning garbage which they fear will angry God. Even though they climb and assist expeditions in the mountains, they believe accidents occur when respect is not paid to God. That is why a Puja, a prayer ceremony with offerings to Gods must precede a climbing expedition.

Sherpa Guide in Nepal

Sherpas are widely recognized for their hardiness, expertise, and experience at very high altitudes. Having a Sherpa guide is not a guarantee against your own death. Sherpas do the risky part of the climb by running ahead to set up ropes and ladders and become increasingly responsible for the safety of their clients who paid for their professional services. But some clients who are stuck with climbing summit fever start to take risks and push the safety limits. Mountaineering is an expensive adventurous sport and acclimatization can take months. So climbers must take safety measures. The more self-sufficient and skilled you are the less dependent you will be on them.

Even though you hire a Sherpa guide, keep in mind that they are not your servants. They are not usually schooled and may speak broken English but they think very well for themselves. They will need respect and like any other staff, motivation with clear leadership. Working with Sherpas will require good management on your part. Use them for important tasks. Have meetings with them about gears, climbing decisions, and problem-solving. Check oxygen, regulators, and masks beforehand. Don't leave it all to the Sherpa leader.

Sherpa- The Mountain Leader

Sherpas are highly recognized as elite mountaineers and experts in the international climbing and mountaineering community. They were immeasurably valuable to early explorers of the Himalayan region, serving as guides at an extremely high altitude of peaks and passes in the region. They have genetic adaption to living in high altitude which includes unique haemoglobin-binding capacity and double nitric oxide adaption, hearts that can utilize glucose, and lungs with increased efficiency in low oxygen conditions. They are the ultimate Mountaineering Guides and very courageous. They accept adventurous challenges and are very helpful too.

Mountain Guide in Nepal - Sherpa

Many foreigners understand that all the guides and porters during the Trekking in Nepal are Sherpas. There are many other casts peoples who are involving in trekking, climbing, expedition and other touristic guides. Sherpa is the cast of peoples living in the Himalayan region and they are used to in the high altitude. Due to this reason, they are fit to climbing high mountains and crossing the high Himalayan passes. Many other different casts of peoples involving expedition, climbing and mountaineering also called sometime Sherpa as they are doing the same job. The numbers of Sherpa have earned a good reputation and many have migrant western or other developed countries. Some number of the Sherpa population is still known for mountaineering as their life. 

Hemanta Budhathoki

Hemanta Budhathoki

Hemanta Budhathoki is team leader of Nepal Highland Trekking and travel company. 

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