The Sherpa Problem

The Roaming Pack

With growing attention to Nepal and the Himalaya region, the Sherpa community comes into focus.

When you think of a sherpa, what comes to mind? You might picture him on a snowy mountainside, wrapped in a down jacket, braving the cold winds of the Himalaya, complete with a dizzying display of ropes and metal tools slung from his harness.

All of these images aren’t inaccurate. Sherpas, the ethnic group from the mountainous Khumbu (Everest) region of Nepal, have become known to Western audiences for their skill in the mountains. The region has lent many people the opportunity to work in the Himalaya, such as with climbing outfitters. Most of them take jobs as guides, porters, cooks, and others. So it’s not surprising that the term “sherpa” has become synonymous with “mountain guide.”

The depictions above aren’t inaccurate, but often a tourist-heavy western narrative dominates the voices of the Sherpa themselves…

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