Kathmandu: It was the moment to bring your child to work. However, the father’s intention was not inspiration.
We are Rita Sherpa, a famous Nepali mountain The guide who holds the record for most ascents of Mount Everest took his 24-year-old son, Lhakpa Tenzing, to the foot of the magnificent summit in late 2021 and told him it was the closest he should consider coming to it. Kami Rita Sherpa remembers his son saying there: “It’s a struggle, look at me.” “I see no future.”
It is an increasingly common sentiment in a trade that is often passed down through generations, such as calculating risk to reward for more than Sherpa families Argue to give up the mountain.
The dangers of guiding climbers to the world’s highest peak are evident, with the ever-present possibility of falls, avalanches, and severe weather. Nearly a third of the 315 recorded deaths on Everest over the past century have been caused by Sherpa guides, according to the Himalayan Mountain Database, a mountaineering record-keeping body. Just last month, three Sherpas died when they hit a pole of ice in a glacier near the mountain’s base camp.
The pay is also modest for all but those who, after years of grueling ascents and proven success, make it to a club of elite guides and groomers. Sherpas early in their careers earn about $4,000, minus gear expenses, for their once-a-season Everest expedition, which is the bulk of their annual income. But what prompts Sherpas to leave the industry, and discourage their children from taking it over, is the lack of security it provides. If a guide becomes disabled or ends up dying, there is little safety net for his or her family—insurance payments are limited, and the government welfare fund promised to Sherpa guides has not materialized.
Some of those who leave the mountain migrate abroad. Others found what they could within Nepal. “I would not suggest to my children who grew up hard to continue in the same perilous mountain guide jobs,” said Kaji Sherpa, who quit in 2016 after eight years as a Sherpa guide and became a security guard. A Kagi Sherpa survived one of the deadliest disasters on Everest, when in 2014 an avalanche killed 16 Sherpas.
Among those who leave the mountains behind is Apa Sherpa, the famous guide who held the record for most Everest summits until it was broken by Kami Rita Sherpa in 2018. Apa Sherpa, now 63, moved to Utah, US, in 2006 and settled his family is there. “It’s all for education,” said Tenzing, the eldest son of Apa Sherpa and an accountant at a biotech company. “My father and mother were denied an education, so he worked hard in the mountains.” Lakpa, son of Kami Rita Sherpa, 24, is completing a degree in tourism management. “I plan to be a landscape photographer—that will get me closer to the mountain, but from a distance.”


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