Our mission is to make widows independent, says Furdiki

Eak Raj Bastola

September 28, 2019


Our mission is to make widows independent, says Furdiki
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KATHMANDU: Furdiki Sherpa’s husband, Mingma Sherpa, died on April 7, 2013, after he fell into the crevasse at the Khumbu Icefall just above base camp, one of the most treacherous stages of the South Pole route to the Everest summit.

He was a part of an elite team of ‘icefall “doctors’ who are the first to fix ropes and maintain the safest path through the Icefall by laying down a series of ladders across the crevasses.

After his death, she determined to go to the site where his husband took his last breath. Even her father, renowned ‘icefall doctor’ Ang Nima Sherpa spent 37 years in Everest, worked on the mountain’s major routes, including the West Ridge, Southwest Face, and South Pillar. He scaled Mt Everest in 1975 for the first time.

God had no mercy on her; her father passed away on January 25, 2013, at the age of 59 in his home village of Pangboche. Some months later, she lost her husband. The situation was very hard for her to bear and move ahead.

She determined herself to go to the Everest to spot the place where she lost her husband and know where her father spent most of his time.

Following the death of her husband, she came to Kathmandu in May 2014. She had to perform the death rituals for her husband as well as her father from the ‘Lama Guru.’

She got support from her foreign clients who her husband had worked with. They consoled her and pledged financial help for her three daughters’ education. They took her daughters, Tashi Jangmu Sherpa, Palden Jangmu Sherpa, and Tashi Dawa Sherpa, to the USA where they are reading there now.

She spat venom on the government for not cooperating with her to send her daughters to the USA.

Sherpa felt lonely after her daughters flew away to the USA. Once, she thought of committing suicide but she did not get the chance to do so as her sister, sister-in-law, and friends were always hovering around her.

Days passed by. With each passing day, she mustered up consolation and courage. Earlier, she thought that she was an only soul on the planet to grieve over her husband’s passing.  But when 16 mountaineers died in the Everest due to an avalanche, she consoled herself. The incident left many women widowed including her friend Nima Doma.

Nima and Furdiki used to meet, talk and share everything with each other. “We started sharing our stories, grief, and the mission of our life,” Furdiki said.

One day, Sherpa said, “Let’s go climbing Mt Everest”. Nima flatly rejected her idea saying, “It is impossible”. When they met Ang Tshering Lama, Furdiki’s dream of climbing the Everest began to take shape. With Ang Tshering’s help, Nima and Furdiki took the training from the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA).

“Ang Tshering Dai (brother) was so happy to learn about our success “, Furdiki recalled.

Lama gave Furdiki and Nima an idea of the expedition and advised them to look for sponsorship for it under the banner of “Two Widows’ Mt Everest Expedition 2019”.

During their trip to Manang to climb 6,584-meter-high Chulu Far East peak, they met Journalist Doma Sherpa Pinasa who climbed Mt Everest in 2018, becoming the first Sherpa female journalist to stand atop the world. Later, she supported them by informing people about their expedition through media, organizing press meet and many more.

Before the Everest, the duo also successfully climbed Island peak (6,189-meter-high).

It was May 23, 2019. The clock was striking 5:25 am. She reached atop Mt Everest with her friend Doma. When she stood on the summit, she was stunned, extremely happy and cried hugging Nima on the top, with her mission accomplished.

Then she noticed that they should climb down safely as many climbers have died or sustained injuries in course of climbing down to the Everest Base Camp. “We climbed the Everest not just for us, but also for other women like us who have been widowed on the mountain,” Furdiki said.

During the expedition, she noticed the hardship of high altitude porters and icefall doctors. When they worked whole night, walked at night, it pinched her very much. Sherpa remembered how hard her husband had worked to make her, his children and family to live the ‘happy’ life.

“They are working on the mountain for money bypassing their life”, Furdiki said. Two widows are now planning to climb Ama Dablam (6,812 m), known for beauty and is graded strenuous in terms of difficulty.

Ama Dablam literally translates to mother’s necklace referring to the shape of a mountain and the glacier accompanying it, he added.  After the expedition she learnt that if someone does something for a noble cause, he/she will get success, but, they should not give up once the mission is set.

“Our mission is to encourage widows and make them independent. I think we are somehow successful to represent widows and motivate them”, Furdiki said.

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