Sherpa climbers seek social security

Solukhumbu, January 16

As the mountaineering fraternity prepares for the most popular mountain climbing season, i.e. spring season, Sherpa climbers who guide their foreign clients to the top of the mountains including Mt Everest have urged the concerned stakeholders to ensure social security for them.

Mingma Tenjing Sherpa, a renowned Sherpa climber from Phortse, Solukhumbu, said Sherpa climbers put their lives at risk for bread and butter every season. “They are often low-paid and there is no guarantee of social security,” Sherpa, who climbed mountains to look after his wife and two kids said.

Saying the government and the mountaineering businesses should work in tandem to ensure social security for Sherpa climbers, the nine-time Mt Everest summiteer said the next generation would only join the risky job if their social security was ensured.

Sherpa, who started climbing at the age of 18 in 2004, further said mountain guides had served the country’s tourism sector spending the prime of their life in the mountains.

“Their contribution to the nation must be honoured,” Sherpa said.

He guided the renowned climber David Pastor to the summit of Mt Everest in 2012 in 20 hours from base camp and on the same week, summited the world’s highest peak again with other clients.

He said Sherpa climbers should be trained and the concerned stakeholders must increase their investment in them, he said.

Sherpa has also worked as climbing instructor at Khumbu Climbing Centre for two years. Sherpa has climbed Mt Cho-Oyu for the seventh time, Mt Lobuche East 15 times and Mt Ama Dablam. He also served as volunteer climbing ranger on Mt Yosemite and Mt Grand Teton.

Guiding is much harder than climbing and the rope fixing task at Mt Everest is the toughest, recounted Sherpa, who has led the route fixing team on the Mt Everest on several occasions. Sherpa helped fellow climbers descend safely from Camp I on Mt Everest during the time of the 2015 earthquakes.

“All should be conscious about the safety of Sherpa climbers,” said Sherpa, who also served as rescue climbing ranger in Mt Denali.

According to Nepal National Mountain Guides Association, more than 1,000 Sherpa climbers work as high altitude guides every spring season.