An ethnic group originally associated with the eastern regions of Nepal (the word Sherpa means “eastern people” in Tibetan) the Sherpa have gained
renown for their work as porters in the Himalayas. In this 1956 photo, a team of Sherpas assist a Swiss expedition in Nepal.
Porters on the way to base camp on the Khumba glacier move up the “trough” between large ice pinnacles, near Mount Everest, 1953.
Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay Sherpa smile after summiting the Mount Everest in 1953 in this undated handout photograph.
Sherpa Tenzing Norgay stands on the summit of Mount Everest May 29, 1953 after he and climbing partner Edmund Hillary became the first people to reach
the highest point on Earth.
Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary on their historic ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. The world first took notice of the Sherpa’s mountaineering prowess
when one of their number, Tenzing Norgay, right, guided British mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary, left, to the summit of Mount Everest, regarded as the first time
people had made it to the top of the world’s tallest peak.
Edmund Hillary and Tenzig Norgay, drinking a cup of tea in the middle of the mountains just after they’d reached the summit of Mount Everest, June 20, 1953.
Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay smile after their legendary ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.
Sherpa Tenzing is seen in this June 30, 1963 file photo, wearing the clothing and oxygen equipment in which he and Edmund Hillary reached the summit of Mount
For more than a century, the Sherpas of Nepal have carried
western explorers up the forbidding peaks of Everest. But for
them, the cost of their labor far outweighs the reward, as
many are left crippled or killed, leaving their families to bear
the burden of our excesses
Sherpa Nima Dorje Tamang traverses a ladder on the Khumbu Icefall of Mount Everest in Nepal. "Universally terrifying, it is the most dangerous part of the
southern route on Everest. The constantly shifting Khumbu Icefall is like a bunch of ice cubes continually tumbling down the icy mountain wall," said
photographer Bobby Model.
The Sherpas’ strength, mountaineering skills and comfort at high altitudes have made them an indispensible part of the business of climbing Mount Everest.
Many of them have summited several times and their familiarity with the routes leading up to the top (like the famed Hillary step ) make them a part of virtually
every Everest expedition.
A Sherpa team heads down from the South Col after dropping supplies at Camp IV. Commercial operations rely mainly on Sherpas not only to ferry
supplies but also to set the fixed ropes that most climbers—regardless of experience—use to climb the mountain.
Nepalese mountaineer Pemba Dorje Sherpa and others pause at the Hillary Step while pushing for the summit of Everest on May 19, 2009 from the south
face of Nepal.
Nepalese Mountaineer Apa Sherpa with Mountain gear stands atop Mount Everest, Nepal, on May 22, 2010 while breaking his own record.
Pasang Lhamu Sherpa (10 December 1961 - 22 April 1993) was the first Nepali woman to climb the summit of Mount Everest.
A Nepalese sherpa collecting garbage, left by climbers, at an altitude of 8,000 meters during the Everest clean-up expedition at Mount Everest. Led by seven-time
summiteer Namgyal Sherpa, the team braved thin air and below freezing temperatures to clear around two tons of trash left behind by mountaineers, that
included empty oxygen cylinders and corpses. Since 1953, there have been some 300 deaths on Everest. Many bodies have been brought down, but those
above 8,000 meters have generally been left to the elements -- their bodies preserved by the freezing temperatures.
A Nepalese porter walks with his load from Everest base camp in Nepal. Porters walk for weeks, sometimes carrying supplies heavier than their own body
weight. They do not sit down when they rest but rely on the wooden staff to prop up the baskets.
Nepalese Sherpas climb Khumbu Icefall, on May 16, 2013 above Base Camp on their way to summit. May is the most popular month for Everest climbs because
of more favorable weather.
The Sherpas seem to have developed a great tolerance to higher altitudes, an attribute that some have ascribed to a genetic adaptation.
Every Mount Everest ascent begins with a Puja ceremony, in which Sherpa pay homage to the mountain deity. The Sherpa have played crucial roles as guides,
porters, and climbing partners on nearly every Everest climb in history.
The job of guiding parties up to the summit of Everest is full of risks.
On 18 April 2014, an avalanche on Mount Everest near Everest Base
Camp killed sixteen Nepalese guides. As of 20 April, thirteen bodies
had been recovered. The search for the three remaining bodies was
called off due to the difficulty and risk of retrieving them.
Buddhist prayer flags flutter in the wind with Everest base camp seen in the background, in this May 3, 2011 file photograph. An avalanche swept down a
slope of Mount Everest on April 14, 2014, killing nine Nepali mountaineering guides at the beginning of the main climbing season, a Tourism Ministry