Lhakpa Sherpa and her sister at a press conference. Photo by Deependra Bajracharya/Kantipur.
A Climbing Family
Note: At the time of this writing, Lhakpa Sherpa was climbing with a Romanian team, and with
one of her younger sisters, Ming Kippa Sherpa. Her brother Mingma
Gelu Sherpa, 24, a former Everest summiteer, was also trying
his luck for the third time, while a cousin, Pasang Sherpa,
was helping out at base camp.
"In phone conversations, both my sisters say they are feeling
strong and healthy. They are not suffering from high altitude
headaches. If the weather gives, they say they've got a very
good chance. But strong winds and snow have blown away tents
at base camp, leaving expedition teams running for cover and
forcing climbers off the mountain.
"Ming Kippa's never done any climbing in her life. Of course,
she's been grazing livestock at high altitudes since she was
young and is very sturdy. So when she expressed an interest
to climb, Lhakpa decided Ming Kippa would accompany her.
"We are 12 siblings‹eight sisters and four brothers. Our mother
is scheduled to arrive from our village in a week and another
sister, Pasang, will be flying in from France. I'm sure we'll
be able to see Lhakpa on TV again if she summits.
Photo by Deependra Bajracharya/Kantipur.
"Our family lives in the highlands. We own about 25 yaks,
which produce milk and butter that we sell to villagers and
to trekkers passing through. We run a small tea shop at the
base of Mount Makalu [another 8,000-meter peak.] Since she summited
Everest in 200, Lhapka has been going between the United States,
where her boyfriend lives, and Nepal. She's guiding treks, working
on her English, and trying to spend time with her son, who attends
boarding school in Kathmandu. She's making sure that he gets
a proper education."
*Update: On May 22, 2003, the day of FRONTLINE/World's
broadcast of the "Dreams of Chomolongma" story, Lhakpa
Sherpa summitted Everest for the third time, setting a world
record for women.
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