Inspiring Nepali Climbers Who Changed Mountaineering in Nepal
Sherpas are an ethnic group hailing from parts of Tibet and
eastern Nepal, well known for their climbing expertise, resilience and
record-breaking achievements. Sherpa make excellent mountain guides as they
have spent most of their lives at high altitude, giving them unique
physiological traits that give them incredible mountain endurance. Having
guided thousands of foreign visitors to the summits of the Himalayan mountains,
Nepali sherpas have been the backbone of mountaineering triumphs throughout
history and have set numerous world records.
Over the past century, Nepali sherpas and climbers have
conquered the impressive heights and challenging terrains of the Himalayas and
other mountains ranges beyond, earning themselves a place in the global
mountaineering hall of fame. They have not only pushed the boundaries of mountaineering
but have positioned Nepal at the heart of the mountaineering map, inspiring
climbers and mountaineers around the world.
This blog celebrates to some of the most influential Nepali
climbers of the past century and their ground breaking achievements.
1. Kami Rita
Having worked as a porter on the Mount Everest Base Camp trail
as a teenager, Kami Rita summited Everest for the first time himself aged 24.
Since then, Rita has made the ascent to Everest summit a record breaking 25
As well as holding the record for the most ascents to the
summit of Everest since 2018, Kami Rita also holds the record for conquering
the most 8,000m+ summits with an impressive total of 38 peaks in the bag. Among
his successes are K2, Lhotse, Manaslu and Cho You.
2. Tenzing Norgay
Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary were the very first
Everest climbers to successfully reach Everest summit, although this was
Tenzing Norgay’s seventh Everest expedition. Tenzing embarked on his first
Everest expedition as a porter accompanying Eric Shipton at age 19.
Tenzing Norgay went on to be named as one of the most
influential people of the 20th century for his extraordinary
achievements by Time Magazine and India’s most prestigious adventure award was
renamed in his honour.
3. Pasang Lhamu Sherpa
Before successfully conquering Nepal’s most notorious peak,
Pasang Lhamu Sherpa attempted to reach Everest summit three times, proving her strength
Her triumph had a tragic end, however, as she did not
survive the descent on her successful summit of Everest. On her descent of the
mountain the weather changed drastically and her group split into two. The
first group began making the descent and the second stayed overnight at the
South Summit as expedition member Sonam Tsering was sick. Pasang then fell ill
and eventually they ran out of oxygen. The leader of the expedition sent for
more oxygen, but worsening weather conditions prevented their return and Pasang’s
body was recovered after 18 days.
Pasang Lhamu Sherpa’s achievements continue to inspire women
from around the world and a life-size statue of Pasang Lhamu was built at
Bouddha Chuchepati in Kathmandu was erect to commemorate her astounding feat.
4. Nirmal Purja
Nims Purja’s quest to summit all 14 of the world’s 8,000m+
peaks was documented in the 2021 Netflix documentary series ‘14 Peaks – Nothing
is Impossible’. Nims set the record for completing all 14 peaks in the quickest
time at 6 months and 6 days, overriding the previous record by over 7 years.
However, this record has since been beaten by the Norwegian mountaineer Kristin
Harila who climbed all 8,000m+ peaks in 3 months and 1 day.
A former Special Forces soldier in the British Army, Nims
Purja lead the team of 10 sherpas that set out to recover the body of Michael
Matthews, the older brother of reality TV personality Spencer Matthews, who
disappeared on Mount Everest after becoming the youngest Briton to summit it in
1999 in Disney+ documentary ‘Finding Michael’ that came out in March
Nims is continuing to make an impact in the mountaineering
world, having most recently set two new world records conquering Everest,
Lhotse and Kanchenjunga in under 9 days and completing the Everest to Lhotse
traverse in 26 hours without supplemental oxygen in May 2022.
5. Sanu Sherpa
Before creating mountaineering history, Sanu Sherpa started
out as a porter for climbing expeditions before he was promoted to climbing
guide a year later. In his first attempt, Sanu guided 19 Korean mountaineers to
the top of the Cho Oyu and made a successful ascent of Shishapangma in 2006.
17 years later, in July 2022, Sanu Sherpa climbed to the
summit of Pakistan’s Gasherbrum II, the 13th highest mountains of
the world’s 14 peaks over 8000m and became the only person to climb all 14
highest peaks twice. Sanu Sherpa continues to work as an expedition leader and
is a celebrated individual in the mountaineering community.
6. Ang Tharkay
Ang Tharkay is most famous for his role in the first
successful attempt of an 8000m+ peak during the French Annapurna expedition led
by Maurice Herzog in 1950. It was this expedition and the subsequent book
‘Annapurna’ written by Maurice Herzog that made Ang Tharkay famous.
Tharkay was the very first sherpa to be awarded the Legion
d’Honneur, a European honour when he turned down the opportunity to be one of
the first to summit Annapurna, allowing the rest of his team to receive the
7. Ang Rita
Having entered into mountaineering as a porter at the age of
15, Ang Rita became popularly known as the Snow Leopard for his climbing skill
and was said to have been as active as snow leopards on the mountains. He has
been an inspiration for climbers and mountaineers around the world with many of
Nepal’s climbing training courses having drawn from his climbing experience and
8. Lakpha Sherpa
Lakpha Sherpa’s passion for climbing began at a young age,
where she would often join her father on his expeditions as a porter in the
Makalu region in the Nepalese Himalayas. She first summitted Mount Everest on
18 May 2000 but this was seemingly not enough as Lakpha summitted the mountain
a further 9 times and has completed numerous other peaks throughout the
9. Purnima Shrestha
As a student in Kathmandu studying photojournalism, Purnima
Shrestha’s love of mountaineering came about almost accidentally when she was
tasked with a photography assignment covering the 2017 annual Everest Marathon.
Since climbing her first big peak in 2017, Manaslu (8,163m),
Purnima Shrestha has showed no signs of slowing down and has her sights set on
completing the 14 peaks summit challenge.
10. Dawa Yangzum
Dawa Yangzum is the only female climber from the Rolwaling
Valley, having started working as a trekking guide in 2008 and beginning climbing
in 2009. She is a frequent competitor in ultra-marathons such as the 350km
Everest Sky Race and Annapurna Mandala Trail.
As one of the most inspiring and accomplished climbers
Nepalese mountaineering community, Dawa Yangzum was the first Nepalese woman to
become an International Federation Mountain Guides (IFMGA) mountain guide with
the Nepal National Mountain Guide Association (NNMGA).
Following the footsteps of many of these inspirational
mountaineering figures, Kandoo Adventure’s offer unforgettable trekking
expeditions in Nepal, exposing you to the region’s fascinating culture and
fantastic views of the surrounding Himalayan Mountains.