Climbing Everest is an essential resource for Nepal, 70 years after reaching the “Roof of the World”
Since Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa first reached the summit of Everest 70 years ago, thousands of climbers have tried to follow in their footsteps. In an attempt to reach the ceiling of the world, which attracts many from different countries, despite the danger of this activity. The 8-day trek to reach Everest Base Camp is among the most popular activities in Nepal.
Every year, tens of thousands of tourists trek this grueling mountain trail. At the time of the 1953 expedition, the area was dotted with small farming villages, but these have since been replaced by large hotel complexes, hardware stores and tea shops, feeding the entire local economy.
Along the way to Everest, Sherpas and other Himalayan peoples have opened restaurants and guesthouses, according to AFP. In the region, mountaineering has provided the livelihood of men and women for 3 generations. This sector is much more profitable than farming or yak farming.
During the climbing season, which lasts about 3 months, an experienced guide can earn up to $10,000, which is many times the average Nepalese annual income. Phurba Tashi Sherpa, a retired mountain guide, was born in Khumjong village, about 10 kilometers from Everest Base Camp.
Throughout his childhood, he watched his father and uncles go to the mountains, to keep up with the expeditions there, and he climbed this mountain peak in their footsteps 21 times. Phurba Tashi Sherpa recalls that “there were only a few expeditions” per year at the time.
Since then, the number of exploratory missions has increased dramatically, which has led to “a rise in income,” says this former high-mountain guide. He explains that this activity “helped improve our lifestyles here.”
Nepali mountaineers, mostly from the Sherpa ethnic group, have always accompanied expeditions aimed at climbing Everest, and have done so since the first attempt to climb the roof of the world in the 1920s by a British team.
Today, the term “Sherpa” generally refers to guides in the high mountains of the Himalayas, usually mending ropes and repairing ladders, and transporting food and equipment for mountain climbers from abroad. Long in the shadows, behind western climbers, the Sherpas are finally coming into the light thanks to the exploits of a younger generation of Nepalese mountaineers, who have highlighted the key role of these guides.
In an interview with “AFP” in 2021, the famous Italian mountaineer Reinold Messner stopped at an increase, which he rightly sees, in interest in Sherpas.
He described this matter as a “development” that also carries “importance for the country’s economy.” Every year, the Khumbu region (east), which opens the way to the roof of the world, receives more than 50,000 parks.
“It is the gift of the mountains, and we have to thank the first summits (Everest), for opening the region to tourism,” said the mayor of Khumbu Basanglhamu Mingma, Sherpa. To help the community he was working with, New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary funded the first school in this area, in the village of Khumjong, and is said to have transported the timber himself to help build it.
One of the school’s first students, Ang Tsering Sherpa, now owns an agency that specializes in Himalayan trekking. “Thanks to mountaineering, today’s young Sherpas have a higher level of education,” he says. “This has brought a wave of economic prosperity.”
Currently, more than 10 percent of Nepalese work in the tourism sector. Permits to climb Everest have generated more than $5 million this year for the Nepalese government, at a rate of $11,000 for each foreign climber.
According to glaciologist Tenzing Chugyal Sherpa, whose grandfather Kancha Sherpa was part of the 1953 expedition, access to education has opened up new opportunities for young Sherpas. “Any Sherpa can now be a doctor, an engineer or a businessman, as they wish,” he says. “It’s very good. If they want to become mountain climbers, that’s available to them.”