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  On Jan.1, 2003, the phone rang with the sad news- the death of a wonderful man, a man who has summited Mt Everest several times..


On Jan.1, 2003, the phone rang with the sad news- the death of a wonderful man. On December 30, 2004 Lhakpa Tshering Sherpa passed away at his home in the Khumbu. Lhakpa had just left our home in Canada late November where we had shared many memories of days gone by.

During our many years of expeditions and travel we have crossed paths with thousands of people.  Lhakpa was introduced to us by Pat Morrow during our first trip to the north side of Everest with the 1991 Canadian "Climb for Hope" Everest Expedition.  Pat Morrow summited in 1982 with Lhakpa marking not only Canada's first successful Everest summit but also it was also Lhakpa's first Everest summit.

He immediately caught my attention, an obvious extravert, characterized by not only his eccentric dress, including the bright bandanas, but by his spontaneous laughter that erupted continually.  Lhakpa’s spunk for life was never hindered by language, situation, people or, even outrageous circumstances.

My very first experience of Lhakpa’s spunk and ability to disperse a difficult and emotional time was during this 1991 Everest expedition.  The time had come for the wives of the expedition team to leave the Tibetan base camp to head back to Kathmandu so that the climb could begin. The Tibetan driver was poised in his jeep anxiously waiting to depart.  Our good byes were long accompanied by tears and sad faces.  Lhakpa, being the playful catalyst for laughter, quickly jumped into the jeep and started blowing the horn to a tune in his head while bobbing up and down in the seat of the jeep. It was so hilarious that tears were turned into barrels of laughter.  Onward we went our hearts a little lighter and our spirits encouraged in that moment about leaving our loved ones to tackle the tallest mountain in the world.   That was our Lhakpa!!

He seemed to have a knack with identifying people that were in need and acted quickly to help remedy the situation.  One time, during an Ama Dablam expedition I started to feel anxious and concerned, especially when the clouds rolled in preventing us from watching the team as they climbed.  However Lhakpa was right there. He quickly built a fire and started burning juniper for good luck.  The smoke created an eerie feeling at the camp magnifying my feelings. I didn’t want anyone to see how worried I was, so I snuck away to my tent to have a moment by myself but moments later the zipper was opened and Lhakpa jumped in.  He lay down beside me, held me in his arms, and started to talk to me about how everything was fine, encouraged me to be happy that the team was so close to the summit and everything was good. He even managed to break me up into a fit of laughter beating me at a game of cards, no small task during moments like that for me. We drank tea and sang the words to a new Nepalese song "Pani Man" to pass the time away.

Our company, Peak Freak Expeditions, began its life in Nepal in 1994 and Lhakpa became our expedition Sardar, trek leader and family.  Lhakpa’s family became our family. Lhakpa's wife Nim Phutti was a pleasant addition to the trips; she became involved with both our climbing expeditions and trekking groups.  She was almost as colourful as Lhakpa and loved to laugh as much as he, Lhakpa fondly referred to her as his "party girl".  We were also graced many times with the presence of Lhakpa's Uncle Pemba who herded the Zok's for our expeditions. 

Lhakpa was born in Kunde in the Everest region of Nepal in 1954 (Western Calendar) and 2060 (Nepali Calendar- Bikram Sambat). His parents passed away when he was a young man. His Aunt Urken Doma and Uncle Pemba raised him. Lhakpa also has two brothers, Pemba Nuru who lives in Khunde and Ang Pemba who lives in Khumjung and two sisters whom are married, his older sister, Pemba Doma lives in Khunde and his younger sister, Pem Phuti in Khumjung.  Lhakpa is married to Nim Phutti and has two sons Sonam Tashi 16 & Ang Tshering 14.

Both trekkers and climbers alike, from the many different expeditions, talk about Lhakpa being a major part of their Himalayan experience. There are so many stories it could fill a book with the comments from the people whose heart he touched.  He was the epitome of the Sherpa qualities, compassion, laughter, joy, kindness, and generosity.  Lhakpa fully embraced every moment.   A few of these memorable moments include:  times he would run ahead of the group to peel potatoes at the lodges so they could all have finger chips for lunch (a big treat along the way), assisting with delivering water bottles and batteries for their head lamps in the dark during the early morning ascents on Kala Pattar, running (not walking) ahead to secure the nights lodging. Lhakpa was always very sensitive to everyone; every group was special to him.  He would invite each group to his home for lunch in Kunde as part of the trip.  A home that was filled with an eclectic mix of memorabilia, walls covered in old expedition photos of his climbs on Everest, expedition barrels and bags chock full of clothing and gear from past climbs.  He was always pulling out something to wear that had Canada represented on it.  While the trekkers and climbers were enjoying the visual journey through the past, a wonderful tea with goodies would be served.  That was Lhakpa!! 

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the time after death can be very difficult and critical.  Those close to Lhakpa must send him their unconditional love and reassure him that though we miss him, all will be well with his loved ones that he left behind.  He must be able to continue his journey with our blessings, love, assurances and he must travel on the other side of the mountain in the same way he traveled on this side; full of confidence and joy.  I am sure that he can make this journey on his own, but it is easier and better to do it with the support of your loved ones.

Pat and Baiba Morrow have organized an Education Fund for Lhakpa's children that we are in full support of and that assists us all in showing understanding and compassion to his family that is in Nepal.

Love is an action and we must join together and make sure that his family is well looked after until his children take over the reins of their extended family.

SEE LHAKPA'S 8000M BIO BELOW

Lhakpa contributed TO Many expeditions throughout his long and successful climbing career

  • 1979 Yugoslav Everest expedition
  • 1979 German Everest Expedition
  • 1980 German Kanchenjunga Expedition
  • 1981 Yugoslav Lhotse Expedition
  • 1982 Canadian Everest Expedition- summit-Pat Morrow
  • 1983 German /American Everest
  • 1985 American Everest (West Ridge)
  • 1987 Snowbird Everest (West Ridge)
  • 1988 Korean Everest Expedition- summit
  • 1991 Canadian Everest "Climb for Hope" (North Ridge)
  • 1993 Indian Everest Expedition
  • 1994 Canadian Everest (North Ridge)
  • 1995 Indian Everest Expedition
  • 1996 New Zealand (Rob Hall team) Everest- summit
  • 1997 Canadian Everest-summit-Jamie Clarke
  • 1998 American Everest-summit- Tom Whittaker
  • 2000 Canadian Everest- summit - Byron Smith
  • 2001 German Everest Expedition
  • 2002 Canadian Fire Fighters Everest Expedition

 

 

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