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  Sherpa Woman Climbing Workshop, Ms. Kandu Sherpa Story


Dear EverestNews.com, Thanks for allowing us to send this dispatch to your awesome website, EverestNews.com . Your site has really been a great source of information to guide us in exploring the Himalaya, and to see what everyone is doing out there. This is Ms. Elselien te Hennepe writing to you.

 

Our Workshop is about working with Sherpa Woman who, after having attended a climbing school, are being further trained to become climbing Sherpa's.

 

So far we've been sending in some pictures and accompanying info, but not yet anything about the Sherpa Woman that we are climbing with. This morning we had a little interview with Ms. Kandu Sherpa and she gave me permission to tell her story.

 

Ms. Kandu Sherpa is a 26 year old woman who was born in the Okhaldunga district. This district is south of the famous Solo Kumbu region and home to many Sherpa's. When she was still young her family left the village and moved to the city of Kathmandu, where she then grew up and attended primary school.

 

Kandu's father is a trekking guide in the Khumbu valley and Tibet and one of her sisters called Maya, is a climbing Sherpa, holding first female Nepali ascents of Ama Dablam, Pumori, and Cho Oyu, all completed with the expedition company SummitClimb.com . Stories of trekking and climbing were normal to Kandu long before she became actively involved herself.

 

Before she started working as a trekking guide she and her sister had a tea house near the tourist district of Thamel in Kathmandu. They worked there together until they changed careers, sold their teahouse and started working for a Kathmandu trekking & climbing agency Everest Parivar Expeditions SummitClimb - Nepal. Kandu became a trekking leader in the Khumbu valley and has led five Everest Basecamp treks since.

 

I would like to take a moment to define what a "Sherpa" is. The word Sherpa can be confusing at times since it means both the group of Sherpa people who originally came from Tibet as well as the profession of being a (climbing/trekking) Sherpa. The "people" part definitely applies to Kandu and she is still working on the "profession" part! She says she likes being a trekking and climbing Sherpa, but also admits that besides fun it is a good and reliable job for her. Right now she would like to become better at her job, get more experience by climbing Himalayan peaks, learning better English, working with map and compass and maybe even becoming adept at using computers.

 

Although she is quite motivated now, she is less certain about her future. Within Nepali and Sherpa culture there is still a sort of fixed lifeline set out for girls like her. According to the prevailing customs, Sherpa girls who live in Kathmandu should be married during their mid to late 20s and be having babies and staying home taking care of their families and husbands. Kandu doesn't really like this and prefers to be more free after marriage. To get her personal freedom within marriage and having children she would like to marry a western man! She is even willing to leave Nepal, move to another country -like the USA- and work in a restaurant or supermarket. She would maybe visit her family in Nepal once a year and climb when she is there.

 

To me this whole idea sounds really drastic and a modern Kathmandu Sherpa could be pretty flexible nowadays, but Kandu doesn't agree with me. She thinks maybe less than one percent of any Nepali or Sherpa Kathmandu men (probably some of Nepal's most liberal) are really going to allow her personal freedom after marriage.

 

Speaking about Sherpa man she says that the reactions she gets to her being a trekking/climbing Sherpa are mostly positive. It's amazing to notice that Kandu could be the only female trekking/climbing Sherpa we see in a month in the Kumbu Valley. There basically are very very few women who work as climbing or trekking sherpas in the entire nation of Nepal, a country of more than 25 million people. During our Sherpa Womens training workshop we have passed probably more than 1000 foreign trekking groups (its the busy season here), and seen no Nepali women trekking or climbing guides! As a consequence she stands out and gets a lot of attention from Sherpa men. They are usually very friendly and say it's good that she is working as a trekking Sherpa. Kandu likes the attention, but mainly because she thinks it's important to have good relations with the other Khumbu trekking Sherpas.

 

Before interviewing Kandu, I explained that we would like more Sherpa woman to work as trekking or climbing guides and that we hope telling Kandu's story could help with that. She totally agreed and said she would like that too because at the climbing school it was only her and one other girl between 18 boys. During the interview she was surprisingly open about her personal life and ideas and I would like to thank her so much for that.

 

When we were done she said that she hopes many people will read this and tell each other about it!

 

Thanks for listening to Kandu's story and providing a forum of discussion for this extremely rare subject: Women Sherpas. Yours Sincerely, Elselien te Hennepe.

 

Earlier Update and background

 

Millet One Sport Everest Boot  has made some minor changes by adding more Kevlar. USES Expeditions / High altitude / Mountaineering in extremely cold conditions / Isothermal to -75°F Gore-Tex® Top dry / Evazote Reinforcements with aramid threads. Avg. Weight: 5 lbs 13 oz Sizes: 5 - 14 DESCRIPTION Boot with semi-rigid shell and built-in Gore-Tex® gaiter reinforced by aramid threads, and removable inner slipper Automatic crampon attachment Non-compressive fastening Double zip, so easier to put on Microcellular midsole to increase insulation Removable inner slipper in aluminized alveolate Fiberglass and carbon footbed Cordura + Evazote upper Elasticated collar.

Expedition footwear for mountaineering in conditions of extreme cold.  NOTE US SIZES LISTED. See more here.

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