Two of the world’s best known mountaineers are visiting Galway this week. Guinness World Record holders, brothers Mingma and Pasang Sherpa, have between them climbed Mount Everest a total of 28 times, while Mingma Sherpa was the first Nepalise man to reach the summit of K2. The Sherpas hail from a renowned climbing family which consists of seven brothers who have climbed Everest a combined total of 54 times
Mingma has also been directly involved in many rescues, including the 1996 Everest Disaster (featured in the recent movie Everest ), the devastating avalanche which resulted in 16 deaths in the Khumbu Icefall in 2014 and, more recently, the rescue of those injured in the earthquake of April 2015. Mingma has a local connection, as he was the person who guided Peter O’Connell, the first Galway man to climb Everest, in 2013.
The brothers are in Ireland to share stories about life on the mountain, and rescuing people in the death zone over 8,000 metres. They are also trying to encourage Irish people to visit Nepal, and want to spread the message about the beautiful treks that are available in the country. Due to it being the highest point on earth, the only thing many people associate with Nepal is Everest, but there are hundreds of challenging peaks to be found in the Asian country.
Speaking to the Galway Advertiser, Pasang Sherpa said the brothers were really enjoying their visit to Ireland since arriving on Christmas Eve. The monsoon-like weather over the past number of weeks has not dimmed their spirits as conditions are quite similar in their homeland at the moment. The brothers climbed Croagh Patrick last Sunday and while it would be significantly lower than the mountains of Nepal, they lapped up the experience of climbing on Irish soil. “I just love climbing and was anxious to get up a mountain while we were here. It is not very high, but it is quite steep and there was plenty of debris, the weather was not great and that is always a challenge. We were due to climb Caarrantuohill but the weather was too bad that particular day.”
It has certainly been a very difficult two years for the Sherpas as their village Rolwaling was destroyed in the earthquake last year. There is currently major work ongoing to rebuild the village and Nepal needs visitors more than ever to support its fledgling economy and rebuild the lives of those suffering due to natural disasters. The brothers want to spread the message that South Asia is a very safe place to visit and the scenery to be enjoyed cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Something else that makes Nepal extremely attractive for visitors is the cost of living. Accommodation can be secured for as low as €3 per night.
Mingma Sherpa set up a trekking and climbing company called Ascent Himalyas in 2012 after more than 20 years working with clients from the biggest outdoor companies from America and Europe, Mingma realised that he could offer the guiding community a higher level of service. The company cuts out the middle-man meaning you have direct access to your tour guides. Since its creation, Ascent Himalayas has guided an increasing number of clients for their treks or climbs in Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan, India, and Pakistan as well as various activities such as water rafting, mountain flights, city sightseeing and special interest/pilgrimage tours in Lumbini, Muktinath or Mount Kailash.
Pasang Sherpa has reached the summit of Everest on nine occasions and plans to do so many times again. It is certainly a gruelling experience that requires much training and practice and will only be achieved by the elite few. For those of us who have never climbed a mountain and cannot see what all the fuss is about, a pertinent question is why does one do it? He gives a simple explanation. “I climbed Everest for the first time when I was 18, when I reached the top I thought I was in Heaven. You feel like you are on top of the world. I spent a half an hour looking at the view, it was amazing. That is why I keep going back.”
To find out more about visiting Nepal for a climbing or trekking expedition, visit www.ascenthimalayas.com