Namgyal Sherpa was born and raised in the Sherpa village of Shim Kharka, in the district of Khotang, one of 75 districts in Nepal. Lacking a formal education, he rose through the ranks from porter to sirdar (lead guide) on Everest expeditions on 8000 meter peaks. He led many expeditions, summited Everest ten times by his early 30’s and regularly led Himalayan rescue operations. He was a promoter and the leader of the “Extreme Everest Expedition 2010”, guiding a Nepali team to clean approximately 4,000 pounds of garbage and remove a number of corpses from the “death zone”, located above 8,000 meters or 26,500 feet. The documentary, Death Zone, chronicles this effort.
Namgyal was considered a luminary in the Khotang District for both his expedition achievements and philanthropic work. He worked his notoriety not for self gain, but rather to help the children in Khotang. Together with his mountaineering and trekking company, Mountain Consult, he sponsored underprivileged children for school scholarships. Because these students were of a low caste, low socioeconomic status and of a female gender, they had been excluded from school.
Namgyal was instrumental in introducing D2N to the traditions and, more importantly, the villagers in this region, helping to gain their trust and encourage involvement in programs for the betterment of their communities.
Sadly, Namgyal passed away in May 2013 on a descent from the summit of Everest. His spirit and infectious enthusiasm will never be forgotten. His memory will remain an integral part of D2N.
Anyone that was lucky enough to have met Namgyal is better for having known him.
Namgyal’s chorten (a Buddhist memorial to his life) sits above the sacred lake in Bane, above the villages where Namgyal grew up and later worked. His body still lies 600 meters below the summit of Mt. Everest.