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June 2, 2020

My routine during lock-down

Stuck at home famed climber Kami Rita Sherpa reads Buddhist books, worships for human welfare

  • Kami Rita Sherpa

Kathmandu: For almost three months I have confined myself to my home. Few days ago, our settlement area of Tenzing Chwok of Kapan in Kathmandu was sealed after coronavirus case was found here. Some people have now started to move here and there during the lockdown. But I’m still not taking any risk to go out.

Since the government has enforced lockdown and we are told to stay indoors it’s our responsibility to abide by the lockdown rules. If people like me go out during the lockdown, what general public will do? I should set an example for the people, so that they may follow me. That’s why I’m staying at home.

Like others, I have no special pass required to travel during the lockdown. My family members and house owner also suggest me not to go outside during the lockdown. That’s why I couldn’t even attend the May 29 scheduled program organized on the occasion of Everest Day.

Actually, they (organizers) had requested me to attend the function by sending an invitation card. But I couldn’t do the same due to lockdown.

I think we are passing through a difficult time. We experienced devastating earthquakes, deadly avalanches, and snowstorms. In 2014’s avalanche, guides and porters had somehow worked although the Everest expedition was canceled at the last moment.

The situation was not so bad even during 2015’s earthquakes and blockade. Tourists had started to visit Nepal shortly after the devastation. Trekking and climbing guides were not left jobless for a long period. Tourism-based industries were not closed for so long period.

Nepal’s tourism sector was never badly affected like this. I’m consulting even with elderly people to know whether they had experienced similar difficult times during their lifetime. But they say, “no”.

Presently, there are no tourism-related activities going on. It’s not sure how long we have to stay jobless. I think climbing guides will be left jobless during the autumn season as well. So, the government should do something at least for them. Otherwise, tourism will collapse. Tourism will not revive in the future if the government remains indifferent to the problems of guides.

Kamirita Sherpa

Indeed, guides play a key role to promote domestic tourism among foreigners. They are ones who work hard to appease clients despite so many lapses on part of our government in the course of organizing trekking and climbing.

If the government does not take care of guides in this crisis, of course, they will quit the profession. In that situation, our tourism will be largely affected. Guides are real drivers of the tourism industry in fact.

So far, the government has done nothing other than collecting revenue. Nothing is done for guides. Some established guides like me could somehow manage household expenses. But newcomers are really in trouble due to coronavirus pandemic. They have already spent hard-earned money to acquire a guiding license. And now they are left without jobs and cash.

To manage jobs for guides the government can initiate mountain cleanup campaigns and explore climbing routes for unclimbed peaks.

We can explore climbing routes of several unclimbed peaks if the government provides us enough money. This will give a positive message to the world of climbers if these tasks are urgently done. I have suggested the same to the Nepal Mountaineering Association and government officials. Regretfully, they didn’t do anything in this spring season.

I’m staying at home with family members. I read Buddhist books and worship Buddha for the betterment of the people and the entire creatures of this universe. We are clueless about how and when this pandemic will come to an end.

Hotels and Restaurants may resume services in a couple of months or so. But trekking and mountaineering will remain closed until next spring season. That’s a huge setback for the guides. Let’s hope that this crisis will end soon and we will be back to our jobs.

Who is Kami Rita Sherpa?

Kami Rita (born 1970) is a Nepali Sherpa guide who, since May 2018, has held the record for most ascents to the summit of Mount Everest. Most recently, he scaled the mountain for a 24th time on 21 May 2019, eclipsing his record set 15 May 2019. His father was among the first professional Sherpa guides after Everest was opened to foreign mountaineers in 1950. His brother, also a guide, scaled Everest 17 times.

In 2017, Kami Rita was the third person to ascend to the summit of Everest 21 times, sharing this record with Apa Sherpa and Phurba Tashi Sherpa. The latter two subsequently retired.

On 20 May 2018, at age 48, Kami Rita became the first person in the world to climb Everest 22 times, achieving the record of the most summits on the 8,848-meter peak. In April of the year, he told the news media that he planned to scale Everest 25 times before retirement, “not just for myself but for my family, the Sherpa people and for my country, Nepal.”

Kami Rita has also scaled other peaks that are higher than 8,000 meters, including K-2, Cho-Oyu, Manaslu, Annapurna, and Lhotse.

Kami Rita Sherpa’s expedition timeline is given below:

  • 1994: Summited on 13th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 1995: Reached up to 8500m as High Altitude Worker
  • 1997: Summited on 25th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as Climber
  • 1998: Summited on 25th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 1999: Summited on 13th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2000: Summited on 23rd May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2002: Summited on 25th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2003: Summited on 30th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2004: Summited on 24th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2005: Summited on 30th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2006: Summited on 20th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2007: Summited on 22nd May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2008: Summited on 24th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2009: Summited on 5th May (Rope fixing team) and 23rd May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2010: Summited on 5th May (Rope fixing team) and 24th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2012: Summited on 18th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2013: Summited on 10th May (Rope fixing team) and 22nd May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2015: No summit bid due to the Earthquake
  • 2016: Summited on 20th May, via N Col – NE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2017: Summited on 27th May, via S Col – SE Ridge as High Altitude Worker
  • 2018: Summited on 16th May, via S Col – SE Ridge
  • 2019: Summited on 15th May, via S Col- SE Ridge
  • 2019: Summited on 21st May, via S Col- SE Ridge

The article is based on a conversation with record holder and famed climbing guide Kami Rita Sherpa

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