Sherpa Adventure Gear - Tested by Sherpas. Worn by Everyone.

Ang Gyalzen SherpaAng Gyalzen Sherpa

At age 90, Gyalzen Sherpa is the only surviving Sherpa from Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay’s historic first summit of Everest in 1953. He is also Sherpa Adventure Gear founder Tashi Sherpa’s uncle, and the inspiration for our company. When he was a child, Gyalzen did not grow up thinking of climbing the great peaks surrounding his home. Life in a small Himalayan mountain town was frugal at best. And he spent his time herding yaks and gathering firewood. “People were very poor. There were few houses. Most Sherpas from Kunde, Khumjung, Pangboche, Thame, everyone, worked as coolies transporting loads for the few rich traders that lived here. The expeditions changed that,” Gyalzen recalls.

 

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What does the word Sherpa means?

  • The word Sherpa is actually pronounced "Shar-wa".

  • The word Sherpa means "People from the east", referring to the origins of the Tibetan people who fled to Nepal.

  • Many Westerners believe the word Sherpa refers to a job as a porter for climbing expeditions. In fact, the term Sherpa identifies a group of people with excellent climbing skills who often help others reach the summit of the Himalayan peaks.

  • "Chomulungma" is the Tibetan name for Mount Everest. It is the home of Miyo Lungsungama, the goddess of humanity and prosperity.

  • The migration of Sherpa people from Tibet to Nepal began in the early 1400s.

  • Sherpa people not involved in expeditions or trekking seek a living as traders and farmers in the remote hilly regions of Nepal.

  • The Sherpas follow Tibetan Buddhism as their main religion.

Who are the Sherpas?

The Sherpas are one of the original mountain people of Nepal. Most Sherpas live in the eastern region of the country known as Solu, Khumbu, and Pharak. However, some live farther west in the Rolwaling valley and in the Helambu region north of Katmandu. Pangboche is the Sherpa’s oldest village in Nepal and is estimated to have been built over 300 years ago.

Sherpas speak a Tibetan dialect, and traditionally are traders and farmers cultivating high altitude fields of potatoes, barley, wheat, and buckwheat. If they live within a day’s walk of Namche Bazaar, some will raise water buffalo and slaughter them for the Saturday market in Namche.

Today, Sherpas are renowned in the global climbing and mountaineering community for their hardiness, expertise, and experience at high altitudes. In Nepal, Sherpas often insist on making a distinction between themselves and general porters, as they generally serve in a more guide-like role and command higher pay, as well as greater respect from the community.

Sherpa Mountaineers

For many years, the Sherpas have literally given their lives to high-altitude mountaineering, one of the most dangerous sports on earth. Thanks to their patience, devotion, hard work and legacy of experience, they are indispensable to explorers of Mt. Everest. Not mere vehicles for others to reach their goals, Sherpas are guides with both leadership abilities and greatly specialized climbing skills at high altitudes.

Historically, the most famous Sherpa is Tenzing Norgay, who accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary on the first successful ascent of Mount Everest in May 1953. Tenzing Norgay had attempted Everest before with other climbing parties, and has since climbed Everest many more times in his career as a Sherpa.

Two sherpas, Pemba Dorjie and Lhakpa Gelu, have recently competed to see who can climb Everest quicker. On May 23rd 2003 Dorji took 12 hours and 46 minutes to climb to the top. Three days later Gelu beat his record by two hours, climbing to the top in 10 hours 46 minutes. On May 21st 2004 Dorji again improved the record by more than two hours with a total time of 8 hours and 10 minutes. These feats are completely without parallel in the history of climbing, and among the greatest of any sport.

Sherpas & Mt. Everest - A History Intertwined

Ever since Sir Edmund Hillary first climbed Everest in 1953 with the invaluable assistance of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, climbers have developed close relationships with Sherpa people.

It is widely recognized that without the Sherpas, Western climbers would rarely be able to climb the great peaks successfully. Because Sherpa guides and assistants have become such an integral part of any successful team, westerners now use the word "Sherpa" to mean a local guide or assistant, sometimes without realizing that this is in fact a clan name.

By extension, Sherpa is the name given to the personal representatives of heads of state and government within the G8 process: the metaphor is that the "sherpa" prepares the way toward the "summit". One or more "sherpa meetings" are generally held in preparation for summits.