This article is part of a series of stories Stephen Regenold is writing on his experience in Nepal last month as a journalist covering Expedition Hanesbrands from Base Camp at Mount Everest.
You could say Ang Temba Sherpa, the Sirdar or “head Sherpa” for Expedition Hanesbrands, was born for his job. Literally. The year was 1966, and the town was Pheriche, a remote Sherpa settlement in the shadow of peaks including Pumori and Ama Dablam. That’s where Temba, as he is called, was born. Elevation: 14,000 feet.
As the crow flies, Mount Everest is less than 10 miles from Temba’s birthplace. He grew up in the Khumbu Region. Temba was educated for 10 years at the Edmund Hillary School in Khumjung.
He began working on climbing expeditions at age 18. That was 1987. By 1991, climbing with a 12-person all-Sherpa team, Temba made the summit of Everest. He pushed upward after weeks of effort my two other Sherpas to make the 29,035-foot perch in the sky.
Today, you will most often find Temba at the base of the mountain. “I promised my grandmother I wouldn’t climb it again,” Temba says of Everest. His family lost a relative in a climbing accident. Understandably, grandma has been hesitant ever since.
But Temba has not strayed from the action too far. Expedition Hanesbrands marks his 17th time working on an Everest climb. For more than a decade, working with a variety of expeditions, including National Geographic climbs, Temba has lead the effort to get climbers to the top of the world.
The job of a Sirdar, a holdover colonial term that translates loosely to “headman,” is a multi-month commitment involving dozens of workers and potentially tens of thousands of dollars spent. For the Hanesbrands climb, Temba began coordinating Sherpas, porters, yaks, cooks, trekking guides, and other local personnel months before Jamie Clarke, lead climber on the expedition, set foot in Nepal. “The organization before the climb is the hardest part of the job,” Temba said.
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