Pasang Lhamu Sherpa from Nepal wins Nat Geo People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year 2016

Pasang Lhamu Sherpa
Mountaineer Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita was named the 2016 National Geographic People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year.

Born in Lukla of Solukhumbu district, Sherpa Akita was selected from a group of adventure innovators whose extraordinary achievements in exploration, conservation, humanitarianism and adventure sports distinguished them in the past year.

THE INTERVIEW

Adventure : Why did you want to become a mountaineering instructor?
Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita : We have so many beautiful mountains [in Nepal]. So many people work there. I had seen a lot of women climb Everest, but I had never seen any women guiding. I decided I wanted to make that my profession to encourage other women.

A : What was it like to become the first female mountaineering instructor in Nepal?
PLSA : It was very hard for me to choose this profession as a woman—especially in our culture. Daughters are supposed to stay home, get married, and take care of the family. Mountaineering is male-dominated. You have to be mentally and physically strong. It was really, really hard for me. Sometimes I wondered if I was doing the right thing. All my colleagues used to tell me that I should do whatever I could then, because after I got married, my career would be finished. It’s been five years. I got married. I have a family. I have [still] been guiding everywhere. So, now, I’m proud.

A : Did you post on Facebook every time you distributed aid?
PLSA : Everything is on Facebook—where we went, what we did, how much we donated. We posted on Facebook so people could see. Because some people just sent $20 to $40—[we wanted them to see that] that money [went to Nepal].”

A : What is the situation like in Nepal, now?
PLSA : So many places still need to be rebuilt. So many places people never even reached—people have not even seen them [since the earthquake]. Those people feel helpless now. Lots of people moved to Kathmandu, and they still live in refugee and displaced-people camps. They just want to go back to their homelands, back to their villages. They want to go back to their own lives.

A : What can people do to help?
PLSA : In Nepal, tourism is very important for us. Most people depend on tourism. Lots of [foreigners] think that Nepal is gone, bad, and dangerous, but we still have so many places that the earthquake didn’t affect that are still in really good shape. My big message is, come to Nepal, visit Nepal, directly support [our economy]. Tell us that our country is still beautiful. Instead of, “Give me a donation,” I like to tell people, “Please, visit Nepal.”

Text originally from National Geographic

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