KATHMANDU: It was his childhood fascination that led Dakipa Sherpa to a resistless passion for climbing the mountains.
He was fascinated, or in other words, beguiled with the ‘tourists’ heading towards the Everest Base Camp (EBC). Dakipa was a child when he was playing outside his house with his friends as he saw those ‘tourists’ undertaking the ‘terrific scrambles’.
Those moments drove this young Dakipa to give a try. He was precisely fascinated by the enthusiasm of those trekkers.
“What if I followed them?” This question often haunted his young mind.
He did not have to wait for a long time when he got an opportunity to walk along with the tourists as a porter when he was just a lad of 16. “You know what?” he said with his raised eyebrows, “I earned Rs 250 as my daily wage.”
That was not the limit for Dakipa. After gaining some experience as a porter, he soon started working as a trekking guide. “Mountains, especially Mt Everest continued to enchant me,” he told Khabarhub.
A determined Dakipa made up his mind to conquer the ‘bold and humble’ Mt Everest one day. He then approached his friends and relatives working as high altitude porters and mountaineering guides to take him along to the Mt Everest.
“They turned down my request,” he said frowning, and added, “But I never lost my hope.”
It was in 2008 when Everesteer Pemba Dorje Sherpa formed a team of 10 Nepali women from various ethnicities and backgrounds for the ‘First Inclusive Women Sagarmatha Expedition 2008 Spring’ (FIWSE).
The team headed by Sushmita Maskey, and Shailee Basnet, Chunu Shrestha, Asha Kumari Singh Chaudhary, Nimdoma Sherpa, Maya Gurung, Pemadiki Sherpa, Nawang Phutti Sherpa, and Usha Bisht as members, successfully ascended Mt Everest on May 2008.
This was something that came as a turning point for Dakipa. He got ‘selected’ to join the team as a high altitude porter.
For Dakipa, Pemba Dorje Sherpa (also his brother-in-law), is his God Father, who helped him to make his dreams come true. Due to Pemba’s little help, Dakipa successfully reached atop the Mt Everest the same year. What more could he expect?
It was just a beginning even though his initial plan was to climb the world’s highest peak only once. Not able to resist his resolve to climb only once, he made nine successful ascents so far.
This year in the spring season, making the nine-time on the summit of Everest on record on May 22, 2019, he reached the top of the world accompanying the HIV-infected climber Gopal Shrestha as a supporting guide.
“Initially, I was totally ignorant about the summit. I did not know that the place where I had set my foot was the summit of Mt Everest. Now, imagine the degree of my delight when I realized that I was on top of the world,” he explains with a spell of gratification.
“Didn’t my dreams come true?” queries Dakipa.
With a bit of solemnity, he continues: “See, climbing Mt Everest is not what common people hypothesize of. It’s something different, something difficult and tricky – something walking on a sword. You never know what happens next.”
He continues to explain the risk of climbing the mountains saying it does not matter how experienced you are, but there is always a risk factor involved. “It’s like winning a fierce battle to return home safe and sound since each climbing is different,” he elucidates.
Dakipa, who has ‘guided’ a number of successful climbers, shares some of his bitter experiences. “There are people who are self-centered. They lure you with several assurances such as sponsoring and tips, before climbing the peak,” he said adding, “However, once they are back, they give you a damn.”
Such incidences hurt Dakipa. Talking to Khabarhub, he recalls some exciting moments on the Everest. He talks about Gopal Shrestha when he suffered from snow blindness while climbing down the Everest. “I literally dragged him down to Camp 4,” he recalls.
In fact, Gopal, too, during a conversation with Khabarhub recently, had praised Dakipa and others for their support. Gopal had then said: “They are not my guides, but Gods,” while expressing his gratitude by eulogizing Dakipa as his personal Sherpa, who really helped Gopal descend from the top down the South Col when caught in snow blindness.
During the course of the conversation, Dakipa suddenly looks upset. He continues to explain his experience in the mountains saying, “What I have noticed is that the snow has gradually started to melt. You can see back rocks there, especially above the Khumbu Icefall up to the Popcorn section.”
According to him, the snow continues to melt with more black rocks being visible. “This is unfortunate,” he laments adding, “If we fail to control the effects of carbon emission and global warming, the pride of Himalayas won’t exist. It’s high time that all stakeholders concerned became serious.”
Dakipa says if the ice goes on melting in the same ratio, Mt Everest will be standing tall with black rocks, sans snow, in another 70 years. This year in the spring seasons only, the Government of Nepal collected NRs 361 million from Mt Everest.
He is equally concerned with the garbage on the Everest. The government needs to focus on cleaning the garbage, mainly in Camp 3 and Camp 4.
Dakipa considers lucky to have saved himself from an avalanche from the Pumori into the Base Camp on Mount Everest due to the devastating 25 April 2015 earthquake. He was in the Base camp with a team of 25 Chinese climbers then.
He saved his life hiding beside a rock near his tent at the Base Camp. The situation then was scary as everything, including bodies, tents, and other necessary stuff were scattered.
Another interesting point he informed was about the Base Camp, which looks like a small, yet crowded town packed with climbers, commercial guides, climbers and other support workers.
Apart from Mt Everest, this Sherpa has climbed Manaslu, Amadablam, Lhotse, Gasherbrum, Himlung, Mera Peak and other dozens of 7000 meter peaks. “I want to climb all the highest 14 peaks,” he gushes.