May 29 marks 70 years since the world’s highest peak, Everest (8,849 meters above sea level), opened its summit to humans.
Since New Zealand climber Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first set foot on the mountain’s summit on May 29, 1953, Nepal has seen a steady stream of “Himalayan expeditions” aiming to conquer Everest.
The eight-day trek to Everest Base Camp is one of the most popular hiking trails in Nepal, according to AFP on Monday.
Tens of thousands of travelers do it every year.
What was a small agricultural village when Hillary and Norgay passed through is now a tourist center with hotels, teahouses, and mountain gear shops.
There are now far more people here who have made mountaineering their profession than farming or yak herding. Many families have been in the mountains for three generations.
The work is dangerous, but an experienced guide can earn as much as $10,000 during the mountain season. That’s a lot of money, many times the average annual income in Nepal.
Even if they don’t climb mountains, other Sherpas and Himalayan residents make money off of Everest by opening restaurants and guesthouses.
Sherpa is the name of an ethnic group that has lived in the high Himalayas, but it is now widely used to describe the guides who show climbers the way to Everest and other Himalayan peaks, carrying their luggage and repairing their equipment.
Born in a village about 10 kilometers from base camp, Sherpa Purva Tashi grew up watching his father and uncles work in the mountains and became a veteran guide himself, having climbed Everest 21 times.
“Before, there weren’t many explorers, but now there are so many coming every year,” he says, “which means our income has gone up. It helps us live a better life here. It’s really changed a lot.”
Nepalese climbers who used to work as auxiliaries for foreign climbing agencies are now attracting their own clients.
“Over the past few decades, Nepal has been through a lot, from COVID-19 to earthquakes to civil unrest, but mountaineering has stood strong,” says travel writer Lisa Sigal.
This year, with record numbers of climbers, the Nepalese government earned more than $5 million in permit fees to climb Everest.
“It’s a gift from the mountains,” said Sherpa Mingma Chhiri, the municipality chief of Khumbu, which welcomes 50,000 trekking tourists each year, adding that education and new facilities have been brought to the village as a result of Everest becoming a tourist destination since the first ascent.메이저놀이터
Hillary reportedly funded the construction of the first school in the area and personally transported the lumber.
“It is thanks to mountaineering that young Sherpas are getting higher education today,” said Sherpa Ang Tsering, an alumnus of the school.
“Now a Sherpa can be a doctor, an engineer, a businessman, anything they want to be,” said Sherpa Tenzing Gyaltsen.