What: Karma Sherpa lecture
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Neptune Mountaineering
More info: http://neptunemountaineering.com/events.aspx
K arma Sherpa grew up in Taksindu, a Nepalese village in the Mount Everest region, and moved to Boulder in 2001 when he was 25 to learn more about Western culture, he said.
The 15-year guiding veteran who founded Boulder's Sherpa Mountain Travel will describe his adventures and guiding experiences at Neptune Mountaineering on Thursday evening. We caught up with him to talk about culture, "Goddess Mother of the Land," and the commercialization of Everest.
What has been the biggest difference between Eastern and Western cultures?
I grew up in the village as a teenager. I grew up with very limited things compared to what we have here now. I've also lived one decade in the Western world because I wanted to learn and understand how it is. In the East, people have to live with the real life. They are happier than the Western world because of the environment. (In Western culture) you have to challenge yourself to have everything. There is no time to rest for your mental (health).
Do you feel technology plays a role in those differences?
In Western culture we have so many modern technologies that makes people's lives so easy. In the East people have more time, so they have time to spend with the family, with the community. They have less stress than the stress we have in the Western world. It could be the technology adds to the stress.
Do you believe Mount Everest is truly "Goddess Mother of the Land?"
Yes, we do, that's why we whenever we climb we do a ceremony to make happy the Mother Goddess of Earth. We do this ceremony fairly often to get permission from that god to save the people's lives. That's a strong belief. We share that belief. I grew up in a Sherpa family and we consider mountains deities of the region, so we respect them whether they are small or big mountains.
How do you feel about the commercialization of Everest?
Yeah, it has been commercialized this last decade because each (guiding) company wants to call themselves number one. Sometimes they will even take 100 people. This is like comparing people to animals. People say, 'Well it's an easy mountain so we can do it if we have the money." And then they try it. Everest is not something simple. It's a serious mountain, in my experience, so people who bring climbers on this mountain, they have to have good mountaineering skills knowledge and background so they can be safe themselves, and in turn, they can save other people's lives.
How do you ensure your clients' safety on such a dangerous mountain?
The biggest problem on Everest is everybody says, 'Well, I can do it. I can do this mountain easily." Then they put all their energy and everything to get to the summit, but only a few people think how to get back safely. Coming down is more dangerous. A lot of people get killed. Last time (I was at Everest), for my two climbers I had to take bottled oxygen to the South Summit, in case when they have a problem coming down or run out of oxygen they can immediately rescue them up there. That's something that, I pay more attention for the climbers because of my philosophy. You have to have extra oxygen up there in case you run out. I just limit myself and make it simple for climbers that want to get to the top. I like to help people to reach their goal, but I want to make it simple for everybody. This is not about business.
--Follow Sarah Kuta on Twitter: @SarahKuta.