Sherpa: One Man’s Tale

I was fortunate enough to visit Nepal in 2011 (my first big trip) and Pasang – our leading sherpa – is the reason that I now have the travel bug. I am sure fellow travellers will agree that the most integral factor in making an experience truly special is the locals. Whatever the duration of your interaction with them, you always come out a richer person: richer in culture, richer in knowledge, richer in happiness. Interactions with locals make for the most humbling experiences, therefore I encourage you to embrace this man’s story and the message it discloses.

2010 marked a turning point for myself and 7 other friends, who at just 15 and 16 years old decided to take part in a World Challenge Expedition to Nepal. It involved 2 weeks volunteering at a local school in Kathmandu followed by a 21-day trek along the Annapurna circuit, reaching a summit height of 5,416 m. By the time my friends and I met Pasang, he had already acquired more than 20 years of experience climbing Himalayan mountain ranges. From porters to cooks, it was apparent that his team members were also of a high caliber and we developed an instant rapport with all of them. Pasang, the leader of the pack, oozed confidence, knowledge, and passion for everything that was Nepal. He was eager to share his country with us and now I wish to share his story with you.

One of 5 boys, he grew up on a farm in Nurbu Chahur. It is a remote village situated 2800 m above sea level, close to Mount Makalu – the world’s 5th highest mountain. Pasang attributes being born at high altitude to the ease at which sherpas climb mountains compared to most of us. This underdeveloped area lacks roads, electricity and education above grade 5. Like his parents, most of the villagers either farm or look after cattle (yaks, cows and yarcha gumba – a type of medicinal fungus). Though the sherpa culture originated in Tibet, its dominance in Nepal has created language barriers that limit career paths for many living in this region. At 14 years old, Pasang consequently left Nurbu to train as a porter at the Tenzing Norway Institute and learn English. He worked his way over to Nepal and remained at Green Lotus trekking company for many years as a porter, assistant guide and trekking sirdar (leader), where he enjoyed infecting others with enthusiasm for his country. In order to obtain a license to trek and climb peaks, he spent all of his free time training at the Nepal Mountain Association (NMA) and the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal (TAAN).

Sherpa home village
Family home (left) & local farmers of Nurbu Chahur (right)

1995 was the year that marked Pasang’s first summit of Mount Everest, he then revisited in 2005 and 2007. When asked about the conditions he endured, Pasang remarked “at that time I realised that climbing a mountain is not only hard and dangerous but it is also about luck”. Despite the loss of many friends to avalanches, accidents and other hostile weather conditions over the years, his expertise continued to impress his clients whilst keeping them out of harms way. We witnessed his professionalism first hand and whilst to this day I still remember marveling at his wisdom, it is his humility that has stuck with me the most after all of these years.

Pasang now lives in Kathmandu with his son, 2 daughters, and wife Doma. He spoke of them fondly throughout our journey together and took us to his house to spend an afternoon with them. It was wonderful to see him in his element; surrounded by his loved ones while he told us all about what life was like in Nepal, sharing what little food and drink they had with us. I was amazed to learn that he also owned a small restaurant in the center of Kathmandu; he took us there for something to eat and a game of pool and we were all very touched at the fuss he and his staff made over us. He had a natural flair for people and hospitality, but I soon learnt that he was not the exception. Pasang and his friends explained that most of the people in Nepal were proud of their culture and liked being able to share their lives and educate people that came to visit. It was a truly humbling encounter.

My friend Sherilyn and I with one of Pasang’s daughters, Kathmandu.
My friend Sherilyn and I with one of Pasang’s daughters, Kathmandu.

Being the leader that he is, Pasang gave and gained respect from all who encountered him. The result was that they had not just formed an accomplished crew, they had formed a group analogous to a family and I was lucky enough to be a part of that. We spent many evenings learning how to cook traditional dishes, playing cards, sharing music and teaching each other how to converse in each other’s languages. The end of our trip evoked a lot of emotions for all of us. We had learned a lot about our new friends and in many ways ourselves. These men were compassionate, smart, humble but above all incredibly tough. I remember waking up one particularly wet morning, struggling to keep a smile on my face as we attempted to pack our tents up in the dark. Our bags were heavy, our shoes were still damp from the previous day, I was covered in mosquito bites and by this point, I was feeling a little homesick. We entered our cabin where breakfast and smiles were awaiting us. Pasang and the boys were in shorts and sandals (the oldest member of the team – in his 90’s – was bare foot). It dawned on me that not once for the entire trip had I seen any of those men complain. Despite hiking through various terrain types in nothing but sandals (whilst carrying their weight in equipment), or waking up at 4 am every day to prepare food for all of us, their mood never faltered and their smiles never wavered. That was the first and last time I felt sorry for myself on that trip and it stands as a metaphor for many other things in life.

Pasang, sherpa
Pasang (left) & Sherpas climbing (right)

I wrote this article for many reasons: for myself as a reminder of my time in Nepal, to share Pasang’s story and the lives of sherpas but first and foremost to provide perspective. Sherpas are much stronger (emotionally and physically) than most think and despite having much less than the majority of us, they possess more integrity and humility. Our western world today is driven by capitalism and consumerism and although we think we are on a path of progression at times I am not so sure we are. Too many of us are wrongly focused on technology, money and material possessions. These people live in beautiful places and lead what appears at the surface very ordinary lives, yet when you take the time to stop and interact with them you soon realise they are very much richer than us…not with money, but with life. Despite a desire for better education, sherpas are happy to live the lives they do. They love their country and enjoy watching others fall in love with it too. They value their families and communities above all else and emphasize the importance of caring for others and our environment. It amazed me that despite the amount of times Pasang and his team have trekked the Himalayas, it was as if they were experiencing it for the first time with us and I think that, in itself, shows us a great deal about who these people really are.

Sherpas carrying equipment up the mountains.
Sherpas carrying equipment up the mountains.

Sherilyn, Pasang and I on a scenic pit stop.Sherilyn, Pasang and I on a scenic pit stop.

I am both delighted and unbelievably proud to announce that since our visit Pasang has set up his own trekking company named Pioneer Adventure. He and three other friends aim to provide the best trekking, rock and mountain climbing experiences for all of his “western friends that love nature so much”. Please visit his website at and take the time to explore this magical place with the help of my dear friend Pasang Sherpa.

One of Pasang’s team members holding their new company’s banner, Mount Everest.
One of Pasang’s team members holding their new company’s banner, Mount Everest.

It is important to make time for experiences that humble us. Having perspective is fundamental in driving us to be better human beings.

“Humility is what makes the great, great”.


Edited by Billy Webb



I’m a 21-year-old Neuroscience Student at the University of Leeds, but I am currently on an exchange year at the University of Newcastle, Australia. By this time next year, I aim to have seen as much of Australia as possible (including its 7 natural wonders) and visited Bali and New Zealand. In general the Phillipines, Malaysia, Mexico and Africa are on the list in no particular order and you will be able to follow my adventures at

I think travel is the most important thing you can do as a human being and I will never stop!

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5 thoughts on “Sherpa: One Man’s Tale”

  1. I made 4 treks with Pasang, these were the best vacations of my life. Pasang is really a great person, always in good mood and I hope to go back in Nepal very soon.

  2. Tiff this is awesome! Loved it, and boy does it bring back memories of our trip! You were right in saying that this adventure changed each and every one of us, and I for one feel as though I’ve come out a better, more rounded person for it! You’ll have to let me know if you write anymore, really enjoyed reading this 🙂 xx

    1. Hey Zak, glad you enjoyed the piece! It sounded like an awesome experience. Hopefully, Tiffany will write for us again sometime ;).

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