KATHMANDU, June 11: In the morning of May 19, he was on the top of the world, but his heart, overflowed with joy and pride, was flying over it. Though this was the tenth time that Phurba Tenjing Sherpa had reached atop the Mount Everest, his feelings this time around were different, as he was there with a distinct purpose.
The weather too was unlike the past as there was a drizzle over the Everest when he put his first step on the top of the world with a flag of the ‘We Will Rise Campaign’, thereby sending a message to the world that mountaineering in Nepal is now safe and sound. The ‘We Will Rise’ campaign is a motivational movement launched after last year’s catastrophic earthquake.
Phurba was contemplating the effects of the Gorkha earthquake and its subsequent aftershocks that caused the massive losses of lives and property including natural heritages in the country rich in natural beauty. Home to eight highest peaks in the world and famous for adventurous tourism, Nepal’s tourism sector that remains as the backbone for nation’s economy was one of the sectors too badly affected by the disaster.
Devastated by the tragic death of around 9,000 fellow citizens, Phurba longed to overcome his feelings and post- disaster trauma. As Phurba said, he personally wanted to help the people to get out from the hangovers from the disaster, regain psychological strength and reinstall ray of hope for better days to come, while also proving that Nepal is able to rise again. Amidst this quest, he suddenly came to know about the We Will Rise Campaign and decided to set out for the expedition to the Everest with a flag bearing its name.
Phurba feels that his accent to the Everest with a flag of the ‘We Will Rise Campaign’ was a symbolic message that Nepal could overcome the bad consequences of the disaster and rise again.
Born in a remote village of Dolakha and grown up on the foothills of the Gaurishanker, mountaineering was Phurba’s passion and he has been in this profession since the age of 18.
Now 26, he already holds the world record as ‘most successful ascents to the Mt Everest at the youngest age’. Phurba was also instrumental in guiding the famous 7 summit women expedition as well as helping Min Bahadur Sherchan become the oldest man to step on the summit of Everest. Sherchan record was later overtaken by Japanese mountaineer Yuchiro Miura.
Though adventurous tourism was not unfamiliar for him, he wished to make the expedition to the Everest, resumed after a two year hiatus- following the deadly avalanche in 2014 and the earthquake a year later, purposeful which drove him to the top of the world carrying the flag of the We Will Rise Campaign. The campaign was launched, as said by its coordinator Nirmal Shrestha, at the initiative of Nepalis residing in Hong Kong to psychologically console the devastated hearts of their Nepali sisters and brothers.
Phurba views that it would be a real tribute to those who lost their precious lives to the earthquake if we all contribute from our own respective side and capacity to rebuild the nation overcoming the bad experiences left by the natural calamity rather than continuing to mourn the losses.
Moreover, Phurba’s tenth successful summit to the Everest gave him an opportunity to gauge the impact of increasing global warming caused by the greenhouse effect, a result of massive carbon emission by industrial countries, on the serene mountains. “When I reached there, there was a drizzle, and it clearly indicates that increasing temperature has started affecting the Everest too,” he said.
He also expressed serious concern about the negative impact of global warming on the mountains. Himalayan region, the ‘precious gift’ of the nature, is witnessing snow melting as a result of global warming, putting its mere existence at stake. The Everest, the pride and identity of the Nepalis and Nepal, and world heritage one day may just wear a deserted look if timely precautions were not taken to stop the green house effect by slashing down carbon emission. Where is our existence if we lose the roof over our head?” he said.
Having said that, Phurba did not want to miss the opportunity to draw the attention of the developed countries responsible for unlimited carbon emission leading to the green house effects and its consequence and counter consequences. So he returned from the top of Everest with stones that have been already gifted to the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, as a symbolic gesture to call their attention to save the Himalaya s from the Global Warming.
The resumption in the mountaineering expedition after a gap of two seasons this year saw over 400 mountaineers from around the world setting their foot on top of Mt Everest. But unless some drastic measures are taken, it will not be long before, as Phurba says, Nepal loses Sagarmatha as the roof over her head.