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Sherpas Are Taking Control of Climbing in Nepal

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A new generation of Sherpas!

In May 2014, the Nepalese government opened 104 new peaks for climbing as a means of encouraging Western tourists to visit during a year when Everest, due to a deadly ice collapse onto the Khumbu Icefall, had shut down. (One of the peaks was even named after a 73-year-old American climber, who attempted a first ascent on it earlier this month.) But the peaks aren’t calling just to paying clients or sponsored pros—they’ve enticed a few intrepid young Sherpas as well.

In October, Nima Tenji Sherpa, Tashi Sherpa, and Dawa Gyalje Sherpa—all hailing from Nepal’s Rolwaling Valley, an area just east of the Khumbu Valley, and the site of 17 of the newly opened peaks—made history with first ascents on three 20,000-foot-plus mountains in three consecutive days. A week later, another Sherpa, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, who owns Dreamers’ Destination guide service and is also from Rolwaling, completed a solo first ascent of the 21,933-foot Chobutse.

It’s not the size of the mountains that is noteworthy—20,000 feet is a walk in the park for most professional Sherpa guides—but the fact that these men decided to climb simply for the thrill, and perhaps the notoriety, of claiming a first ascent. That’s a stark departure from the mores of traditional professional Sherpa climbers, who only started pursuing summits after British and Swedish explorers arrived in the early part of the 20th century offering cash in exchange for help up the mountains. Those early generations of Sherpa guides viewed the mountains as the bed of the gods and didn't climb for personal enjoyment. For decades, Westerners ran the commercial climbing industry in Nepal. Many young local climbers are now claiming the mountains as their own.

"We are hoping, as young climbers, to take climbing in Nepal to a new level,” Dawa Gyalje told Alpinist Magazine in an interview earlier this month. “All of us have climbed much bigger mountains but always with foreign climbers. We want to show that we are not just porters on the mountain, climbing only for our livelihood, but we are interested in climbing because we enjoy it, too."

"We are the young generation of Sherpa climbers but we are looking to the future of Nepal and Sherpas also," he added

The new Sherpas seem to enjoy climbing more than the old Sherpas. 

They seem to feel they have the right to enjoy it.

They DO have a right to enjoy it! So they should.

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