Mountaineering, a passion that needs physical, mental fitness: Mingma D Sherpa

Eak Raj Bastola

December 28, 2019

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Mountaineering, a passion that needs physical, mental fitness: Mingma D Sherpa
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KATHMANDU: “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable,” Christopher Reeve’s lines truly reflect the dreams, endeavors and the success Mingma David Sherpa has attained so far.

Mingma David Sherpa is not a new name in the mountaineering sector. Mingma is adding a new feather to his cap by making himself the fourth Nepali to climb all the 14 peaks above 8000 meters.

In 2019, as a part of the Project Possible team, Sherpa alongside Nirmal Purja climbed nine peaks: Mt Annapurna, Mt Dhaulagiri, Mt Nanga Parbat, Mt Gasherbrum I, Mt Gasherbrum II, Broad Peak, Mt Kanchenjunga, Mt Manaslu, and Mt Shishapangma.

Being a team manager, he feels one always has both mental and physical pressure. He had to manage all the logistic material along with planning for the summit too. If any plans go wrong, the burden will go to him. But luckily he accomplished all his plans as per his schedule and got the title of being the fourth Nepali to complete all the fourteen peaks above 8000 m.

Before this,  30-year-old had already climbed the other eight-thousanders: some of them several times– six times Mount Everest (in 2010/11/12/13/17/18), two times K2 (2014/18), three times Manaslu (2012/15/18) as well as once each Cho Oyu (2011), Makalu (2014) and Lhotse (2018).

Indeed, climbing a mountain is always hard, but sometimes, weather and physical stamina make it tougher. “To me,” says Mingma, “if you don’t have enough rest that may make you work harder.”

“It happened to me when I had to climb Kanchenjunga after Dhaulagiri and had altitude sickness,” Sherpa tried to recapture those moments now only in memories.

For me, Amadablam is the best mountain. From the top of it, you can see the other five 8000ers: Everest, Lhotse, Kanchenjunga, Makalu, Cho-Oyu, which I had already climbed before.

In 2016, Mingma joined Anthony Gordon, an Australian TV producer who had conceptualized a documentary, on the world’s first Sherpa rescue team. The seven-member team of sherpas was trained to operate cameras and the footage from their rescue missions was turned into a documentary, Everest Air.

Mingma’s team rescued and retrieved bodies of 52 people from Everest and its neighbor Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world.

Born on May 16, 1989, in Taplejung, Mingma started his career as a porter in 2009. Full of enthusiasm and confidence, Mingma set on a mission to ascend Everest in 2010 and succeeded in reaching the top of the world.

Talking with Khabarhub, Mingma recalled one of his maternal uncles, Dorje Khatri (died in 2014 due to the avalanche at Everest Base Camp), who encouraged him to climb the peak. “In fact, Khatri boosted my confidence,” Mingma said while recalling what Khatri had told him once, “Never look back”. In fact, Mingma never looked back. His only aim was to conquer the world’s tallest peak. And, he did it!

While doing intermittent treks, he had joined a climbing expedition to Mt Manaslu as a ‘kitchen helper’ in 2009. However, he could reach only as high as 4,800 meters. So while returning, he made a vow to himself that he’d make it to the top one day.

He then reached out to his maternal uncle, who at that time had been atop Mt Everest three times, for advice. Upon his uncle’s recommendation, Sherpa joined a training program on mountain climbing. His training was shortly followed by his first ascent atop Mt Everest in 2010 – now his first of many.

“Oh, in fact, I have no words to describe the feeling when I reached atop the Everest at the age of 19,” a cheerful Mingma recalls the ‘joyous’ moment.

Before that, Sherpa continued his mountaineering career – pursuing advanced courses on mountaineering, working as an expedition leader, assisting rescue operations and saving several lives.

Sherpa also shares his determination to complete his SLC (now SEE) examinations. He says his attempt to complete his grade 10 studies was interrupted halfway after he had to head to China for an expedition to climb Mt Everest. Nevertheless, he completed it the next year.

Unlike other fields, mountaineering has a limit, when you reached the top of it, you should back but in education, you can read more and more, in business, you want to earn more. But the mountain has limits; despite it, one gets unlimited joys and satisfaction which no mountaineer can describe or elaborate.

Sharing what goes inside a mountaineer after conquering a peak, he said that summiteers become speechless for a moment. “You can’t express the moment once you set your feet there,” he quips.

“There was no incident that made me look back or quit mountaineering. It was my dream and I have succeeded in all attempts I have so far made,” a contented Mingma told Khabarhub.

He, however, appealed to the government to categorize mountaineering guides and provide them with social security.

Mingma, however, is worried about the difficulties in climbing Everest in recent times. “In fact, climbing Everest has become tougher due to global warming,” he said, adding, “The Khumbu Icefall is melting faster due to global warming.”

“Despite this, the climbing seems easy due to the endeavors of experienced guides and sophisticated equipment they use,” he shared.

Mingma says foreigners climb the mountains because of their interest, as well as to set a record. Mountaineers reply to the courageous Sherpas while climbing Everest.

“There was no incident that made me look back or quit mountaineering. It was my dream and I have succeeded in all attempts I have so far made,” a contented Mingma told Khabarhub in a breath.

He, however, appealed to the government to categorize mountaineering guides with minimum salary and provide them with social security.

In a recent meeting when asked what his vision is, Mingma David Sherpa said that he wishes to make the rescue system in Nepal more systematic. He also believes that patrons approaching his expedition company are reaching out to him with a dream and he wishes to fulfill their dream with sincerity.

In the course of time, Mingma was honored with Piolets d’Or Asia Awards under the Sherpa category for his commitment to technical face climbing and positive environmental stewardship in the mountains. The award aims to encourage and inspire Asian mountaineers who achieved pure and visionary ascents. With the award, he is recognized as the Sherpa of the Year 2019.

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