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Adventure Sports

with Stefan Nestler

(Mountain) Female power from Nepal

Maya, Dawa Yangzum, Pasang Lhamu (f.l.)

Maya, Dawa Yangzum, Pasang Lhamu (f.l.)

They are a powerful trio on the mountain: On 26 July 2014, Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, Maya Sherpa and Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita were the first women from Nepal, who reached the 8611-meter-high summit of K2 in Pakistan. The second highest mountain in the world is also called “Savage Mountain” due to the difficulty of ascent and the high fatality rate. “We were the first Nepalese women on K 2! And it was not easy climbing this moutain. Only real climbers know how and why we climbed K 2”, Dawa Yangzum writes to me. Mountaineers had appreciated their performance in an appropriate way. They did not expect that from the Nepalese government anyway: “Mostly, the government, the ministry and all these people just know Everest and the Seven Summits. If we had climbed the Seven Summits, they would have made us a front page news”, says the 25-year-old. The government is in Dawa Yangzum’s bad books anyway.

Promised, not held

On top of K 2

On top of K 2

The three Sherpani had difficulties in financing their expedition to K2. They are still sitting on debt. The Ministry of Tourism in Kathmandu had promised to contribute 500,000 rupees (about 4,800 US $). “We are still waiting for the money”, Dawa Yangzum complains. ”We do not understand these people. Nothing to say about them.”

There is a lack of money for their next scheduled project too. The three female climbers already scaled Mount Everest in previous years: Dawa Yangzum in 2012, the 30-year-old Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita in 2007 and the 36-year-old Maya Sherpa even twice: from the South in 2006, from the North in 2007. After having climbed successfully the first and the second highest mountain of the world, the trio wants to scale the third highest too, the 8586-meter-high Kangchenjunga in Nepal. The three Sherpani plan to climb via the normal route and to use bottled oxygen above 8000 meters – as they did on K 2 and Everest. “But we don’t have much time for fundraising”, says Dawa Yangzum. “If we are able to get the money, we are happy and can start anytime.” Perhaps the Sherpani should try crowdfunding.

Goal: More Nepalese women in mountain sports

Dawa Yangzum Sherpa

Dawa Yangzum Sherpa

Dawa Yangzum grew up in the Rolwaling Valley, which is located north-east of Kathmandu, at the foot of the seven-thousander Gauri Shankar. She has made her marks not only as Sherpani climber, but also as an excellent ultra-marathon and mountain runner. For a year, she is married to Pasang Tenzing Sherpa, an experienced high-altitude climber and mountain guide, who stood on top of Everest ten times already. Dawa Yangzum successfully completed a mountain guide course at the end of 2014. Maya Sherpa and Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita also earn money in adventure and outdoor tourism. They had to do pioneering work. “When we were beginners, it was a difficult time for us being female in outdoor activities. Meanwhile we are taken seriously as climbers”, says Dawa Yangzum. “We want to incourage other women to get involved in mountain sports too. It just takes time.”

P. S.: Since 1993, when Pasang Lhamu Sherpa scaled Mount Everest as the first woman from Nepal (and died on the descent), 23 Nepalese female climbers reached the summit of the highest mountain in the world.


7. January 2015 | 17:36