A lean and thin lad of just 15 years, born at Thame of Solukhumbu was seen entering the world of Nepal’s tourism as a porter seeking to earn just bread and butter for his poor family.
The boy was renowned climber Ang Rita Sherpa. Beginning his career as a porter in tourism Ang Rita perhaps never imagined at that time that one day he will be one of the world acclaimed famous mountaineers to reach atop the Mt Everest the highest mountain in the world.
He not only climbed Mt Everest just like other top mountaineers, but he did something different and unique that was recognized by the Guianese World Record. That is to say, he dared to climb Mt Everest ten times without using bottled oxygen which was next to impossible for other alpinists.
He not only reached atop Mt Everest ten times but also vanquished several other higher mountains such as Mount K2 of Pakistan and Mt Cho Oyu, Mt Manaslu, Mt Lhotse, Mt Annapurna, Mt Dhawalagiri, and other mountains in Nepal.
Ang Rita Sherpa not only dared to risk his life to reach atop Mt Everest ten times to make Nepal’s name popular in the world but also dared to exemplify to the world of workers like porters of tourism that where there is will there is away.
An ordinary porter ending up his life as a world-renowned top mountaineer of course entailed a lot of guts, adventurous spirit, courage, the bravery that earned bread and butter for his poor family but also won laurels for the nation as a national hero from the tourism sector.
Sherpa’s contribution to mountaineering, tourism, and nation is immensely comparable to a national contribution by any other heroes of the nation.
That’s why when the last funeral rites were performed for the legendry mountaineer Sherpa (snow leopard or Himchituwa) in Bouddha the Tourism Minister Yogesh Bhattarai himself appeared at the scene and draped the body of Ang Rita Sherpa with the national flag in honor of the legendry man to recognize his contributions to the nation.
A platoon of armed forces also gave a salute to the dead body of Sherpa. This was the real honor from the government for a man like Sherpa.
It was NMA that asked the government to give state honor to late Sherpa during his funeral rites. Then the government took up the necessary decision to honor Sherpa.
Thanks to the late decision of the government for giving a state honor to late Ang Rita Sherpa, though the state honor given to late Sherpa was not at the spur of the moment as it was given to late national poet Madhav Prasad Ghimire, who used to receive a monthly stipend from the government for being a national poet.
Legendary Sherpa had to die poor. He did not get any stipend from the government. His old age ailments costs were all looked after by Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) and not by the government itself.
Sherpa is reported to have died at the residence of his daughter which means Sherpa despite his distinguished contribution to the nation was not well recognized by the nation and not given any financial assistance as given to other heroes of the nation, although all other foreign nations had recognized his contribution.
His sayings were very remarkable when he said, “Even if I am poor, I will not go to any other country to live,” when foreign nations like India had invited him to stay with them.
This was his honesty, integrity, and love for his motherland. But the question arises, did the nation treat him with justice? Why well-known leopard or Himchituwa in Nepal had to live in poverty and die in poverty? Was he stateless?
Responding to a similar question, the Minister for tourism Yogesh Bhattarai on the funeral site hinted that in future such heroes who earned name and fame for the country will be duly honored and recognized by the government.
Talking to highlights tourism, another world record holder Kami Rita Sherpa who has scaled Mt Everest 24 times said, “If the government takes initiatives, Nepal Tourism Board and MNA are to take steps money can be generated as many foreigners would like to take photographs of these legendary heroes and that generated money can be used for a stipend for these heroes.”
However, NMA has been very helpful to Ang Rita Sherpa that continued to support late Sherpa until he died.
Salute to this great man, a great soul who during his living days denied to go to even royal palace of late King Birendra and seek some financial support.
So, the very meaningful message that we get from the demise of 72-year-old legendary mountaineer Ang Rita Sherpa is that we all whether private organizations, semi-government, government, NTB, or tourism department should spare no stone unturned to recognize and reward the contributions of many similar heroes in the country so that they may not die poor like Ang Rita Sherpa.
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