Sherpa - The Mountaineering Guide
Sherpa (The Mountaineering Guide), 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 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 the 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 on the first attempt. There are many other notable Sherpa (The Mountaineering Guide) who have climbed high mountains and set records.
Nepal is famous for mountaineering sports. There are eight out of the fourteen mountains in the world that exceed 8000m: Mt.Everest (the highest peak in the world), Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Dhaulagiri, Gokyo RI, 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. Mountaineers hire guides to accompany them in climbing these tough mountains. As Sherpas are nature-gifted expert climbers, most of them are engaged in this field for guiding tourist climbers.
Sherpa (The Mountaineering Guide) 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 altitudes 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 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 expedition 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 guides continue to the higher camps and summits. The higher altitude jobs are very dangerous and tough, requiring more experienced Sherpas who earn higher pay.
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 anger God. Even though they climb and assist expeditions in the mountains, they believe accidents occur when respect is not paid to God. That’s why a Puja, a prayer ceremony with offerings to Gods must precede a climbing expedition.
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.
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 at high altitudes which includes unique hemoglobin-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.
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