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.
Workshop is about working with Sherpa Woman who, after having attended a
climbing school, are being further trained to become climbing Sherpa's.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
were done she said that she hopes many people will read this and tell each
other about it!
listening to Kandu's story and providing a forum of discussion for this
extremely rare subject: Women Sherpas. Yours Sincerely, Elselien te Hennepe.
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