Outside magazine this month has a beautiful photo gallery section devoted to some of the more illustrious Sherpas who have guided Himalayan expeditions. Full portraits of these porter/climbers, their faces ravaged by the weather conditions thrown at them on the peaks of Cho Oyu, Ama Dablam, Everest–deep wrinkles, frost bite scars, frost-bite amputated fingers, send shivers down my spine. Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who summited Everest with Edmund Hillary in 1953 (50 years ago!) isn’t in the pictoral, having passed away in 1986, but his son Jamling Tenzing Norgay, whom I was fortunate enough to meet and interview a few years ago (shameless name-dropping here) is photographed along with his family. What’s striking about this latter photo is that Norgay was considered an icon among his people, royalty really, and while every other Sherpa bears age-worn looks, JTN is strangely clear-skinned.
Unfortunately, there are some Maoist insurgencies occuring in Nepal at the moment, tourism is down, less foreign money is coming through that country, resulting in continued hardships for that country’s people.