Two famous Nepalese Sherpas are preparing to hike the entire length of the Great Himalaya Trail in an effort to raise awareness of the effects of climate change on the region. The duo will set out on January 15th and hope to encourage economic development along the new trekking route as well.
Apa Sherpa and Dawa Steven Sherpa will begin their journey in eastern Nepal in the village of Ghunsa and will travel 1056 miles west until they reach the town of Darchula. The entire hike is expected to take roughly 120 days to complete, passing through 20 different districts along the way.
While the GHT is an impressively long trek, it is the altitude that presents the biggest challenge for most hikers. It is considered the highest long distance trail in the world, rising above 18,880 feet at its tallest point. That altitude isn’t likely to be a problem for these two men however, as they have both climbed Everest multiple times. In fact, Apa holds the record for most successful summits, having scaled the highest mountain on the planet 21 times. Dawa Steven has stood on the summit of the mountain twice as well, giving the men plenty of experience at high altitude.
In addition to the altitude, the GHT is known for its incredibly scenic vistas as well. The Himalayan Mountains make a breathtaking backdrop for the trek, but climate change is having a dramatic impact on that place. As the planet has warmed, the glaciers throughout the region have gone into retreat, severely limiting the amount of fresh water that is available to the people who live there. Even now, many of those people have to walk several hours each day just to collect water for their daily use. The two Sherpas hope to spread the news on this impending crisis in their home country.
Climate change isn’t their only priority however, as they hope to encourage economic development along the Great Himalaya Trail as well. The route opened earlier this year, and while hikers have begun walking the route, the infrastructure to support them is not fully in place yet. Apa and Dawa Steven hope that their hike will help bring attention to the trail that will also inspire new restaurants and inns to open along its length, making it easier for adventure travelers to undertake the long distance trek.
Legendary Himalayan mountain guide Apa Sherpa has returned to his home country of Nepal once again this year, where he’ll be attempting his 21st summit of Mt. Everest. If successful, he will extend his existing record as the man to accomplish that feat most often.
Apa, who now lives in Utah, left his friends and family last Friday, and set off for the Nepali capital of Kathmandu. That city serves as the gateway to the Himalaya, and most mountaineering expeditions to the region begin and end there. Apa says that he knows that climbing the tallest mountain on the planet is risky, but he feels compelled to go back once again in an effort to help his homeland. The mountain guide’s Apa Sherpa Foundation raises funds to improve educational facilities of children living in the Himalaya.
The beginning of April traditionally marks the beginning of the spring climbing season in Nepal, Tibet, and other Himalayan countries. Over the past week, climbers and trekkers have been arriving in Kathmandu and setting out for Everest, Annapurna, and a dozen other high peaks. Climbing these giant mountains is no simple affair, and most will spend six to eight weeks attempting to reach the summit of their choice.
For Apa, this is all old hat. He has been making the journey to Everest every year since the late 1980’s, achieving his first successful summit in 1990. For the past three years, he has been a part of the Eco Everest Team, which is made up of a group of very experienced Sherpas who work together to clean up trash from the mountain. The team has been directly responsible for removing tons of discarded gear, empty oxygen bottles, and other waste products from the slopes of Everest.
If all goes as planned, Apa should be making his record-breaking 21st summit bid sometime in mid-May.
13-year old Jordan Romero reached the summit of Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, earlier today, setting a new record for the youngest person to achieve that feat. The successful summit also leaves him just one peak shy of his ultimate goal, to become the youngest person to climb the Seven Summits.
For much of the week, high winds buffeted the mountain, preventing climbers from going to the summit. But today, as predicted, a new weather window opened, granting access to the peak once again. This change in the weather has spurred another round of summit bids from both the north and south sides of the mountain. Jordan, and his team, topped out on the north, or Tibetan, side of Everest.
With Everest now added to his resume, Jordan can now turn his attention to the one mountain that remains on his list of the Seven Summits. This fall, he’ll travel to Antarctica to climb the 16,050 foot tall Mt. Vinson, the tallest peak on that continent. While not nearly as high as Everest, which stands at 29,029 feet, the extreme cold and harsh Antarctic conditions give the mountain its own unique challenges.
Jordan’s summit of Everest wasn’t the only one of note today. Climbing legend Apa Sherpa claimed his 20th summit of the mountain, extending his own record in the process. Apa first climbed Everest back in 1990, and has not failed to reach the top of the mountain in any year since then, an impressive feat of skill and endurance.
Congratulations to both Jordan and Apa on their amazing accomplishments.
One of the mountaineers who has already arrived in Kathmandu ahead of the Himalayan climbing season is the legendary Apa Sherpa, who holds the record for the most successful summits of the mountain at 19. When the climber announced his plans to return to the Himalaya he made it clear that he intended to break his own record, and claim his 20th summit, while also promoting his Apa Sherpa Foundation. What he didn’t mention was that he had another reason to reach the top of the highest mountain on Earth once again, as he now plans to take the remains of Sir Edmund Hillary to the summit with him.
Hillary, and his climbing partner Tenzing Norgay, rocketed to international fame back in 1953, when they became the first men to stand on the summit of Everest, which stands at 29,035 feet. in the years that followed, Hillary would return often to Nepal, eventually launching a foundation of his own that would build schools and medical clinics for the Napali people that he came to know and love. Through his charitable works, the lives of many people in Nepal were changed forever, and as a result, Hillary was often looked upon as a grandfatherly figure amongst the citizens of that country.
When he passed away at the ripe old age of 88 back in 2008, Hillary’s remains were cremated, and most of the ashes were spread out over the ocean off the coast of his native New Zealand. But one of his dying wishes was to see the summit of Everest one last time. In a press conference held in Kathmandu yesterday, Apa announced that he will fulfill that wish, taking the last of Sir Ed’s remains with him to the top of the mountain later this spring. He also says that he’ll take along a statue of the Buddha and say a prayer for Hillary’s while he is there.
While that mission should be enough of a challenge for Apa, he has other plans as well. He and the rest of the Eco-Everest Expedition will once again be scouring the mountain, bringing down tons of garbage. Last year, the team cleaned up more than 13,000 pounds of trash from the mountain, and this year they’ve set their sights even higher, going for 15,400 pounds. Their efforts are to ensure that the place stays clean and accessible for generations to come.