Sherpa People, Warm Bonfire of Nepal’s Snowy Peaks
Talking about Himalayas means talking about its superior natives—the Sherpas! Their well-known mountaineering skills combined with the scientifically-proved exceptional physical superiority makes them a very interesting society to befriend with. Let’s get to know them closer!
If we talking about Nepal and Himalayas, it’s most likely that we will also talk about their native society—the Sherpas! Sherpa is a Tibetan ethnic group native to the most mountainous regions of the neighboring Nepal, China, Bhutan, India—including the Himalayas for sure. The word “sherpa” is derived from Sherpa language shar(east) and wa(people), explaining their geographical origin in North East Nepal. Most of them live in eastern part of Nepal and northern Kathmandu. Sherpas are well-known for their mountaineering skills.
Almost all Sherpa people are regarded as elite, highly respectable mountaineers who automatically also happens to be local experts. They are extremely helpful and valuable for people from other parts of this world who are going to explore Himalayan region(particularly Mount Everest), as they will serve as guides in the expedition. Nowadays the term ‘sherpa’ is often used by foreigners to refer to almost anyone who serves as guide or mountaineering supports for Himalayan expedition, regardless of the person’s ethnicity. However, most of the Sherpa’s mountaineers are men, but recently in the end of December 2017 the world was introduced to 27-year-old Nepali Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, the very first certified female international mountain guide. She succeeded to earn her ‘crown’ after 5 years of physical and mental tests. It’s interesting how even in a mountaineering nation like Nepal a female mountain guide is a rare sight, eventhough they already have a trekking company that is run by an all-female team.
Sherpas are very experienced in the extreme altitude’s situation, science proved that their mountaineering ability(including climbing ability, respiratory system, etc.) is the result of the genetic adaptation that happens to people who live at the high altitude environment. For example, Sherpas inhale more air in each of their breath compared to people who live in the lowland area, and they breath in a more rapid frequency. It results in their larger lung volumes which increase blood supply to the brain, thus they have a higher capacity to exercise. No wonder they can climb that steep slope like it is just nothing!
Sherpas are mostly Buddhists, and they particularly believe in hidden treasures and valleys. Basically a nomadic society, Sherpa people believes that the initial Tibetan migration was to search for the Buddhist pure-lands.
If we look at many media coverage about Nepal, we can see that many of the Nepal natives still wears their traditional costumes. Just like their neighboring India, they do still put their traditional attire such as men’s long-sleeved robes kitycow or women’s long-sleeved floor-length dress tongkok as significant part of their daily life. While most Sherpas now prefer to adopt modern ready made clothes, but those home-spun clothing still can be seen anywhere.
Even though they live in a super-cold environment, Sherpas don’t seem to lose the fun—they also like to party! They love to make social gathering, the first hours of the party will be filled with a lot of drinking and eating, then people will continue to sing and dance. After that, people will start to leave the party one by one. Sounds like a fun and warm way to enjoy the snowy days at the mountain!
Text : Nadia Maya Ardiani
Photos : Wikipedia, cnn.com, ivisitnepal.com