Monday, July 26, 2010

Save the Everest - 2011

     I had the opportunity to meet one of the world's leading climbers, Wongchu Sherpa,  during this week's meeting of the Wilderness Medical Society in Snowmass, Colorado. Wongchu Sherpa has summited Everest and many other peaks in the Himalayas.  He was immortalized in the 1996 David Brashears IMAX film EVEREST  and has continued his work as the chairman and managing director of Peak Promotion Pvt. Ltd.  The company specializes in trekking, mountaineering, filming and expedition logistics.

     Wongchu came to Kathmandu in search of his future at the age of 16, leaving his home village of Chyangba, about 500 km north of Kathmandu in the Solu Khumbu District.  Through Sherpa friends he eventually found a job as a kitchen assistant with a trekking company, and went on to eventually found his own enterprise, Peak Promotions, in 1992.
     He is a man who believes in giving back to the community.  He built Wongchu Biswa Darshan Junior High School, bringing higher education to his community.  With the help of David Brashears and Broughton Coburn, he brought electricity and clean drinking water to the village as well.  He repaired the Chyangba Gompa (monastery) and helped to establish a health post at this school.

     "There is only one life.  We don't have a life after this and whatever we earn we must leave here.  We cannot take with us.  And this is how I will leave what I have earned," says Wongchu Sherpa.

In Photo:  Dr. Angela Gardner, Wongchu Sherpa
     Wongchu Sherpa is in the United States to promote the "Save the Everest - 2011" campaign.  Since May 29, 1953 when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenjing Norgay Sherpa reached the peak of Everest for the first time, more than 4500 climbers from eighty countries have climbed Everest, leaving behind a junk yard of oxygen cylinders, abandoned camping equipment, and food packaging debris.  Wongchu Sherpa and the Everest Summiteers Association, in conjunction with the government of Nepal, want to change that.

     The goal of "Save the Everest - 2011" is to remove 8 tons of garbage from base camp and high camp by the end of the 2011 Spring Season.   Following the cleanup effort, the campaign hopes to establish Everest as a garbage-free zone from base camp to summit, preserving the beauty of the world's most enigmatic mountain for generations to come.  The garbage will be brought down by participating national and international expedition teams.

     To learn more about "Save the Everest - 2011" or to support the effort physically or financially, go to or send an email to

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