Mountaineer Mingma Gyabu Sherpa feted with Piolets d’Or Asia Awards

KATHMANDU: The Union of Asian Alpine Association today honoured mountaineer Mingma Gyabu Sherpa with one of the Piolets d’Or Asia Awards for his commitment to technical face climbing and positive environmental stewardship in the mountains.

Amidst a function organised by the Nepal Mountaineering Association here this evening, UAAA President Inn Jeoung Lee presented the international award, which is considered by many to be the Oscars of alpinism, to Sherpa.

Sherpa is the first Nepali climber to be honoured with Piolets d’Or Asia Award under Sherpa category as the award also aims to encourage and inspirit Asian mountaineers who achieved pure and visionary ascents.

Sherpa has been selected as a recipient of the Piolets d’Or Asia Award under Sherpa category for his outstanding achievements in the field of mountaineering, Lee announced. With this award Mingma Gyabu has been recognised as the Sherpa of the Year 2019, he added.

According to UAAA, the awards have motivated progression in Asian mountaineering culture over the last decade, contributing to an ethos of safety, respect and athleticism in alpine and glacial environments. The awards have three categories: lifetime achievement, alpinists and Sherpa.

According to climbing records, Sherpa climbed Mt Aconcagua (6,962 m), the highest peak in South America on December 20 last year. Before heading to Mt Aconcagua, Sherpa climbed Mt Manaslu (8,163 m), the world’s eighth highest peak, in nine days, appealing all stakeholders to make Visit Nepal 2020 a grand success. He also climbed Mt Ama Dablam in last November.

Sherpa had climbed Mt Everest and Mt Lhotse in the last spring season. He scaled the world’s second highest peak guiding a group of international expedition to Mt K2. He also made it to the summit of Broad Peak after returning from Mt K2 in Pakistan. He also climbed Mount Elbrus (5,642 m), Europe’s highest peak last year. Sherpa, who climbed Mt Everest six times, has also been involved in many high altitude rescue efforts.

Born in Taplejung in 1989, Sherpa began his climbing career at the age of 18.  “It’s a great honour that inspires me to serve the country’s mountaineering sector,” Sherpa who is also a central executive board member of NMA, reacted. “It’s a celebration of an ethical mountaineering practices to exemplify respect for the outdoors.”

On the occasion, UAAA president Lee has also been awarded with Harka Gurung Mountaineering Award, a mountaineering award named after the veteran mountain environment conservationist. Minister  for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari presented award to Lee for his tireless efforts to promote mountaineering in the Asian continent. Adhikari has also named Lee as goodwill ambassador for Visit Nepal 2020.

Lee, who leads the Korean Alpine Federation, has been re-elected as UAAA President to a third term in 2017. Lee is member of a mountaineering club at Dongguk University in Korea and has a doctorate in business administration. He served as the president of the Korea Student Alpine Federation from 1988 to 1997 and as the principal of the Korean Alpine School from 2001 to 2008.

According to NMA President Santa Bir Lama, this annual award is distributed to Nepali and foreign national in alternate year recognising their contribution in mountain tourism of Nepal. Late Elizabeth Hawley, chronicler of Himalayan expeditions, was first given the award in 2006. Other awardees till date include Avia Club of Nepal, Himalayan Rescue Association, Takashi Miyahara, Pratik Dhakal, late Jean Coudrey, Brougton Coburn, Mahabir Pun, Richard Regan and Buddhi Narayan Shrestha.