Mt. Everest draws in the most adventurous and heroic climbers from around the world, but perhaps some of the most daring and defiant challengers to the ascent are locals from Nepal. The most famous and arguably most accomplished Nepalese climber was Babu Chiri Sherpa, who set many climbing and endurance records on Mt. Everest. He was intimately familiar with the remote region of Hades above Everest base camp, but was taken into the icy underworld in 2001 as he fell to his death in a deep crevasse. Another venturesome Nepalese climber named Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa predated some of Babu’s bold expeditions and had bright prospects for many legendary feats. Before his death at the age of 23 in a high-elevation avalanche in the Fall of 1996 he had already summited Mt. Everest five times, four of those without supplementary oxygen. On one expedition he made a statement for the pride of the Sherpa people by ascending the full extent of Mt. Everest wearing traditional dress (a chuba) and relying solely on the rarefied air of 29,000 feet and beyond. He was also part of Scott Fischer’s expeditions, including the catastrophe of Spring, 1996. He survived, but he couldn’t dodge misfortune much longer.
I saw a photo of him at the top of Mt. Everest wearing his yak wool robe and at first I thought it was kind of a joke. I heard that he died, and I assumed it was as he froze to death in his Sherpa garb with a frozen fingers clutching his prayer beads. It is certain suicide to chance the perils of the mountains without the best gear available, and going without oxygen seem like taking your chances jumping off of Golden Gate Bridge. Looking closer though I could see that he had a modest amount of modern cold weather gear, and I learned that he had gone without oxygen enough times before. He made is back down safely from that climb and went on adventuring with other groups. His fame and fortune were cut short during his final ascent on Mt. Everest in September, 1996, as he was swept up in a violent avalanche above Camp III. Another expedition group witnessed as it overcame Lopsang’s group and confirmed that he had been killed. It seems likely that Lopsang would have matched and driven on rivalry with Babu, but they both reached the same finish line.avalanche exploration extreme cold weather gear mountains nepal tradition Trekking in Nepal