When I was trekking with 11 others from Lukla to Chomolungma (Everest) Base Camp and back from 9th October till 20th October, 2006, we had 6 porters to carry our main backpacks. They were:
1. Phurba Tamang, 17. 2. Prakash Shresta, 22. 3. Rudra Ghimire, 22. 4. Dawa Tamang, 29. 5. Ravi Tamang, 21. 6. Tenzing Sherpa, 23.
Our porters did a great job and we enjoyed the trek tremendously.
October is the peak trekking season in Nepal and we encountered not only many other trekkers but many porters carrying huge and heavy loads moving in both directions, in addition to caravans of heavily laden yaks and dzo.
The porters amazed me not only with the bulk and weight of the goods they carried, but with the diversity of the goods as well, ranging from trekkers’ backpacks to guesthouses’ provisions to sawn timber to PVC pipes to steel posts to half a slaughtered cattle!
Tenzing Norgay, who together with New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary made history by being the first men to successfully scale Chomolungma (Everest) on 29th May, 1953, wrote something interesting about the Sherpa porters in his autobiography “Man of Everest”:
“A Sherpa boy looks up, and he sees a mountain. He looks down, and what does he see? A load. He picks up the load and starts for the mountain, or, if not straight for it, at least up and down. That is what his life is – carrying a load up and down. It is not a strange or unpleasant thing for him, but a natural thing; and the load is not something to be handled awkwardly, to be struggled with and cursed at, but almost a part of his body. Most of its weight goes into a broad strap that is worn not over the shoulders, but across the forehead, for long experience has taught us that this is the best way of carrying. And with it the average Sherpa can manage more than a hundred pounds in ordinary country and up to seventy or eighty on steep mountain-sides.”
Over the years, Sherpa porters have become an essential and integral part of any mountaineering expedition in the Himalayas. Their contributions towards the conquests of all the high mountain peaks in the Himalayas are nothing short of legendary.