Who are Sherpas?

Posted On: Mar 29, 2017


If you have trekked or climbed any mountain in Nepal especially Everest, then you are more likely to be aware of Sherpas. If you are planning for trekking or climbing, you probably have heard about them but you might not know well about them. Whether you have heard or not, this article will definitely introduce you to Sherpas well.

Sherpas are ethnic group living high in the Himalayas, the most mountainous region of Nepal. They are well known for their mountain climbing skills and called expert mountaineers. Like Gurkhas (Nepalese soldiers recruited outside the country) are popular for their warrior skills, Sherpas are popular for their mountaineering skills in the world. The word ‘Sherpa’ is derived from Tibetan words ‘Shar wa’ which means ‘people from the east’ Most Sherpas live in Nepal’s eastern regions and they are of Tibetan origin following Tibetan culture and tradition. Majority of Sherpas in the Everest region work as guides for mountaineers and climbers. Sherpas, the backbone of mountain expeditions are expert in mountain climbing and have adopted themselves for living in high altitude.

Many Sherpas have conquered the world’s highest mountain Mt. Everest with various records. Some of the records made are as follows:

Tenzing Norgay Sherpa along with Sir Edmund Hillary were the first to successfully reach the summit of world’s highest mountain Mt. Everest on May 29, 1953.
Pemba Dorje Sherpa has the record of fastest ascent of Everest from base camp (with supplemental oxygen) in 8 hours and 10 minutes.
Kazi Sherpa made the record of fastest ascent of Everest from base camp without supplemental oxygen in 20 hours and 24 minutes.
Pasang Lhamu Sherpa was the first Nepalese woman to successfully reach the summit of Everest.
Apa Sherpa as well as Phurba Tashi Sherpa holds the record for highest number of times to reach the summit of Everest. Both have successfully reached the summit 21 times.
Lhakpa Sherpa holds the record for highest number of times to reach the summit of Everest by woman. She has successfully reached the summit 7 times.

Those above records are just the few notable records made by Sherpas. There are many other records made by them too.

Sherpas work for foreign climbers and help them by preparing the route for climbers to follow, fixing ropes and carrying necessary climbing kit up the mountain.

It’s not that no any Sherpa has died while ascending or descending high altitude mountain, but the matter is this is the group that have excelled climbing high mountains. Several scientific studies show that Sherpa people have well adopted themselves living in high altitudes. Scientists have identified genetic differences as well as physiological differences to explain Sherpa’s abilities for climbing high mountains.

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