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Mountains “beckon” mountaineers time and again

For Tamang, there's no looking back

Eak Raj Bastola

January 15, 2022

6 MIN READ

Mountains “beckon” mountaineers time and again

KATHMANDU: For mountaineer Gesman Tamang, mountaineering is an ‘addiction’.

“Once you reach the summit of any mountain, you love to go to the summit again and again and like to explore different mountains,” he says.

Tamang, who hails from Dhudhkunda-8, Kerung, Solukhumbu, quips, “Mountains make you addicted.”

To recall, he ventured into tourism in 2005 as a porter. At the very first endeavor, he crossed the Thorong La (5416 m) that “inspired and motivated” him to continue with the job.

Having consistently worked for four years in the trekking sector, he succeeded in climbing the Pisang Peak (6091m) — considered one of the most popular climbing peaks among the trekking peaks in the Annapurna region — in 2009.

Tamang believes the mountains keep on beckoning him. “I feel I am born to be a mountaineer,” he hastens to add reminiscing his first ascend to the mountain above 8,000m for the first time in 2016.

Since then he never looked back. He also succeeded in climbing Mt Everest, the world’s highest peak, and several other peaks above 8000m. Interestingly, Tamang first gave company to a 72-year-old Chinese climber.

His happiness knew no bounds when he first set his foot atop Mt Everest. To add, he is the first from the Tamang community to climb Mt Everest from his village, Chimding.

Since then, he scaled Mt Everest in 2017, 2018, and 2021.

Believe it, he had to wait for a tiring 11 years to climb the mountains. However, the expedition sector, too, has not remained aloof from favoritism, nepotism, and factionalism.

He justifies his claim, “Bitter but true. Newcomers hardly get the chance. This sector is gripped with nepotism.”

Apart from Everest, he has climbed Annapurna I (without oxygen), Kanchangunja, K2, Cho-Oyu, Sisapangma, and Manaslu in 2019. He also climbed Mt Manaslu without oxygen in 2017.

With this, he has successfully climbed 8000m mountains 16 times. Now he plans to climb 14 peaks for the name and fame of the Tamang community.

Asked what made him climb the mountains without oxygen, Tamang says, “It’s for the sake of experience and to understand the importance of oxygen.”

He says climbing without oxygen is not at all easy. “One gets tired, and feels colder while climbing without oxygen.”

And what about climbing with bottled oxygen? “Yes, bottled oxygen makes you warm and gives you energy, and you don’t feel hungry as well.”

Tamang also “encountered” the effect of global warming while climbing Mt Everest. “I could see some black rocks on the Khumbu Icefall,” he says.

Meanwhile, the story of garbage scattered in Camp 4 is no different. “You will find everything including food, tent, spoons, plates, and many more that is used during the expedition. This shows the amount of garbages on Everest,” says Tamang.

He suggests the government enforce stricter measures to control garbages on the mountains.

“Lack of apathy on the part of the government is one of the reasons for the garbage on the mountains. No one seems to be bothered,” he adds.

To encourage Sherpa, climbers, or high-altitude porters in the mountaineering sector, the government has to increase the amount of insurance of the Nepali climbers, he suggests.

Currently, expedition companies ensure medical insurance worth Rs 5,00,000 and death insurance of 1.5 million, which is very nominal.

Likewise, he also suggests free schooling and college education for the climbers’ children in a bid to encourage the climbers. The number of Nepalis in this field will be increased if the insurance is favorable for the climbers, he argued.

Normally, high altitude porters get Rs 250,000-Rs 5,00,000 according to the weight of the luggage they carry.

Besides being a porter and a climber, he has also rescued a number of climbers while climbing mountains. In 2021 alone, he rescued three persons from Mt Annapurna and two from Mt Dhaulagiri.

Most of the people who need to be rescued are due to negligence. Climbers need proper training, he says adding, “Taking rest in the name of tiredness can be disastrous in the mountains,” he says.

He is also involved in the Lions Club of Save Himalayas, Kiwanis club of Patan, Shisakhola Tamang Samaj, and many more.

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