The Sherpa people in the Himalayas share a successful partnership with with the noble beasts the yaks in taming the steep trails and making a comfortable living in their rugged environment. The Sherpas have relied on the yaks for hundreds of years since before they migrated from the Tibetan region to settle the new land. By herding the yaks across the grassy hillsides for grazing and along the trails to pack heavy loads of supplies the Sherpa people have been very industrious and have turned their rocky and inaccessible reaches into a prosperous and developed community.
The yaks, a form of bull with very long fur and a preference for a much cooler climate, are integral to the Sherpa way of life. The Sherpas get to know their yaks well and they will give them a name. They strap a yak bell around their neck and they can always recognize an individual yak from the sound of its bell. The nak, a female yak, produces a rich milk that the Sherpa people use to prepare butter and cheese (similar to Swiss cheese), which are popular menu items.
Hikers learn early on that a pack of yaks along a trail won't pay much consideration when they pass, so it's important to give them the right of way and to wait on the uphill, inside part of the trail. The packs move kind of slowly though, so it's a challenge to pass them up on the narrow trails. The yaks seem to be very agile and they're able to negotiate the rugged and steep trails without much trouble, even with heavy loads on their back. They do get winded and hot though. You'll see panting heavily as they're straining to climb up the rough stretches, and when they get hot their tongues will hang out to dissipate some heat. That's about all they can do for sweating.
You won't find many of them
below the elevation of Namche (13,000 feet) because the climate gets to be
too warm for them. They prefer to be up higher, so they work best for loads
up to Everest base camp. When their packing working is over for the day the
yaks like to get right to grazing, so they are usually sweeping the ground
for grass and underbrush. They eat a lot and then deposit lots of pulpy dung
on the trails, which the Sherpas resourcefully use for their fires. The Sherpas
do eat yak meat, but only in cases where the animal must be killed. Sherpas
prefer not to kill animals, but when it is crippled or too old they will end