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with Stefan Nestler

Pathetic? No way!

Maya Sherpa (in the background Mount Everest)

Maya Sherpa (in the background Mount Everest)

Nepal needs strong women like Maya Sherpa. “With our women expedition project we want to inspire women doing what we really are capable of even after being married and having children”, the 36-year-old climber writes to me. In July 2014, she scaled the 8611-meter-high K 2 with Dawa Yangzum Sherpa and Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita. They were the first female climbers from Nepal on top of the second highest mountain in the world. A week and a half ago, I introduced the trio’s new project in my blog: the planned ascent of Kangchenjunga next spring. I got Maya’s answers to my questions concerning their plans a few days after the article had gone online.

Still on debt

Climber, wife and mother

Climber, wife and mother

As Dawa Yangzum did previously, Maya confirmed that they are still sitting on debt with a volume of about 13,800 US $ (converted) after their expedition to K2. “People think, we have just earned a lot and lost nothing. Reality is just behind the wall”, says Maya adding that they want to do things differently now. “This time we have just tried to raise fund from many of those reputed mountaineering organizations like NMA [Nepal Mountaineering Association] or TAAN [Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal] who understand what we are doing and why.” She is alluding to the Government of Nepal that has still not paid the promised money for the K 2 expedition (equivalent to 4,950 $) till this day.

Twice on Everest

Maya (l.) on top of K 2

Maya (l.) on top of K 2

Maya grew up in a small village in Okhaldhunga district, not far from Mount Everest. She fought hard to find a place in the still male-dominated world of mountaineering in Nepal. “Being a professional climber since 2003, I have always tried my best to launch myself in the eyes of all those guys who think women are pathetic in this field”, says Maya who was a successful weightlifter (featherweight) before she started climbing. The Sherpani scaled Mount Everest from both sides, from Nepal in 2006, from Tibet in 2007. In addition, she was the first woman from Nepal on top of Cho Oyu (8,188 m) in Tibet, Pumori (7,161 m), Baruntse (7,129 m) and Ama Dablam (,6814 m) in Nepal and Khan Tengri (7,010 m) in Kyrgyzstan. She is married to the Dutch mountaineer Arnold Coster. They live with their four-year-old daughter Roos Dawa in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu.

Fight against gender discrimination in Nepal

In 2010, Maya was elected as an executive member of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA): “I learned a lot there, the need of women expedition guide and climber in reality. Female climbers and guides could be counted on two hands.” It was a “huge challenge” for her, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita and Dawa Sherpa Yangzum “to fight against gender discrimination in Nepal”, Maya Sherpa says. “We would also like to give a shot awareness message to every single man who thinks girls are born with a curse: This is not the truth if we just avoid gender discrimination in the society.”


20. January 2015 | 17:24