I am a Sherpa. Yes, but I don’t climb mountains and I am in favor of Mt. Everest being put off limits to human activity for various reasons.
I will write more in days to come whether anyone cares to hear me out or not. So far, no one has cared to hear me out.
I am more in favor of climbing the Everest inside, so to speak, the mountains inside – not the mountains outside.
This might be confusing to most. Well, what’s there to climb inside, you say? There are no visible mountains, no 8000 m peaks to get to the top of.
I see lots of mountains to climb inside.
Mine is not a popular position because Mt. Everest “assaults” have overtaken popular culture in such a frenzied way in the last half century, including the imaginations and perceptions and self perceptions of Sherpas themselves.
I am a “Sherpa”. I am not sure exactly what that – “I am a Sherpa” means. When I was 16, I too wanted to set the world record for being the youngest Sherpa, Nepali, female to climb Mt. Everest. I never looked at Sherpas pre-mountaineering; that’s how strong the mountaineering myths are, even though it’s only over some half a century young.
Here I should add that half a century is not a long time. Everest, or Miyosanglangma, (the mountain’s local name, believed to be a living, breathing, goddess who rides a tiger and wears a tiara of flowers around her head and is tasked with protecting the whole world) has been around much longer and she was not climbed more than she was (climbed).
Our lives with our sixty seconds of fame and name will go in the blink of an eye but she has been witness to our human activity for much, much longer and will likely be around much longer than you and I – that is, if we don’t all collectively rape and kill her off.
We should not go down as the generation that made her lose her sanity and dignity, that pushed her to the edge.
Sanity. Dignity: Those are the two qualities we can at least pass on to our next generation in these seemingly insane and undignified times.
Relatively speaking, who cares about the “assault” stories, the records and the money?
Actually, I go so far to label the “assaults” as rapes. You can call it a female perspective, a feminist perspective, whatever you like.
So, yes, she has been raped for less of the time she has been around than not.
But she’s not happy, and that’s clear. She’s sending out distress signals but we are not listening, so enamored are we by the stories we have entertained ourselves with – at her expense.
I love to observe the look on people’s faces when I speak to them in person and I say that a day is coming soon when Mt. Everest/ Miyosanglangma will be given her due rest.
This line which I say with as much conviction as I can muster usually follows person I am having said conversation with’s line saying; “oh it will never happen!” which has usually been provoked by my saying I think it should and will happen and my reasons why.
When I say “a day is coming soon when Mt. Everest will be closed to climbing and turned into an endangered, environmental and cultural world heritage site. There is no other way,” I love observing the person I am having said conversation with.
Their jaws drop ever so slightly and a look of mild to strong incomprehension appears across their eyes. Their brows usually cross and two small furrows form in between the brows.
There’s almost a tiny bit of anger, like a child whose favorite toy has being taken away from him. The child does not comprehend. The child does not understand.
Everest has been our toy for over half a century. Our collective distraction from climbing the mountains inside.
My saying Everest will be closed to climbing feels to people like I am saying the sky is the floor and the ground we walk on is the roof. In our imagination, Everest has always been climbed, a fact, like the earth is round.
That’s how deeply the Everest assault or rape stories have overtaken our imaginings that we would rather make every plausible excuse for why it cannot and will not happen than why it will happen.
But, I know, a day is coming when it will be closed to climbing – soon.
How can I say this with so much conviction?
I’ll keep you guessing. And keep your jaws dropping, eyes welling up with a veneer of incomprehension and tiny, angry furrows forming between your brows.
I can’t take away a toy you’ve played with for over 50 years without a fight, can I?