Successfully attempting his ninth summit, Pemba Ongchhu Sherpa is gearing up for his 10th Everest expedition in the end of this year. Brought up in Solukhumbu, he is one among the five IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guide Association) Certified Mountaineering Guides as well as Rescue Specialist and Instructor from Nepal who earned the license in 2012.
He also survived an avalanche in 2014 and the massive earthquake in 2015, both at the Everest Base Camp. Receiving both national and international training, he has climbed more than 25 national and international peaks. Inspired by the tales of mountaineering in an early age, Pemba looks forward to conquering a myriad pinnacles before his feet turn feeble.
My City’s Sonam Lama caught up with Pemba where he shared his inspirational journey and experience in the field of mountaineering.
How did you come up with the idea of climbing Mt Everest?
As a young boy who grew up listening to the tales of Mt Everest, it was an early dream to summit the highest pinnacle one day. Driven by this inspiration, I learnt about mountaineering and trekking at the age of 22.
After working as a trekking guide for five years, I initiated my journey in 2005 primarily climbing Pisang Peak (6200 meters) of Manang District. The first expedition made me realize that training on mountaineering is mandatory to prepare oneself to summit any peak and thus, I underwent several training that helped me summit Mt Everest for the ninth time. Moreover, having properly trained as a tour guide, I earned the license of certified mountain guide in 2012 under IFMGA which is the international association of mountain guide associations from all over the world.
How tough was it to reach where you are today?
Mountain expedition itself is another name for ‘challenge’. At the initial phase, it was physically, financially and psychologically draining to take what comes your way.
Though the challenges are still there today, I have made sure that I am not knocked down by the same mistakes which I did in my initial stage. There are times when you are taken aback or feel like holding back and your skin gets peeled off and you get those nasty frost bites. Nevertheless, it is very important to be at high spirits under any circumstances and well trained before you take up to climbing.
As a frequent climber, what are your observations on making a safe expedition?
The insurance policy is lengthy which questions the safety of climbers here. Nepal generates maximum revenue through tourism. Having acknowledged this fact, I believe the tourism authoritative bodies and government have been playing the least role to promote tourism in Nepal.
Moreover, tons of garbage and non-disposable materials being gathered in Mt Everest has been contributing to climate change and destruction of natural resources. This is a shameful thing and it needs to change.
In your opinion, what measures should be adopted to mitigate such problems?
In my view, we primarily need to introduce and implement strong policies for the preservation of our natural resources. Since Nepal has the capability and cultural richness to allure more than double the rate of tourists we are inviting now, we should be able to ensure them about the travel and flight safety.
The problem hovering around tourism sector is that we fail to introduce our country as a safer place for tourists, which makes them reluctant to visit Nepal. Thus, we should promote tourism and upgrade its reputation through various mediums to erase the hesitancy tourists have before visiting Nepal.
Would you like to deliver any message to those aspiring to take up mountaineering?
Prior to initiating a journey in expedition, one must be aware of the know-how of mountaineering. It is only with years long training and knowledge that you get a clear idea of mountain climbing. With the amount of skills and learning that you acquire through studies and trainings, you can apply the skills in your early expedition and experience with every new summit. Your physical and mental strength is what counts.