Thirteen years ago when Pemba Tsering Sherpa became the youngest person to climb Everest at the age of 16, I thought to myself: one day I will make it to the top. On 17 May my dream finally came true and I conquered the 8,848 metre peak.
My journey to Sagarmatha began almost a year ago. I went to Manang for a mountaineering course last summer where I learnt about the technical aspects of climbing. There I met Everest summiteers like Shailee Basnet of Seven Summits Women team who encouraged me and helped me stay focused on my goal.
Before I left for Manang, I was terrified of flying into Lukla airport. Luckily we all landed safely. The nine days trek from Lukla to base camp was a real eye opener. As I passed through the scenic villages of Namche, Syangboche, and Pangboche surrounded by majestic mountains and lush green forests I felt blessed to be born in such a beautiful country. I have to admit, before this trip I sometimes regretted being born a Nepali and even thought about leaving the country. But now I have realised there is so much more to see and explore here beyond Kathmandu’s cacophony.
News about deaths at the summit became a routine during our one month stay at base camp and it was terrifying to see so many dead bodies being brought back. Seven climbers including two from our team had already died as we started the ascent to the top. Even if I didn’t make it to the summit on my first attempt, I just wanted to be safe.
The higher we went, the more challenging the climb became. There were a few times when I narrowly escaped death. I was only a few centimetres from plunging down the Khumbu Icefall when one of the team members rushed to help me. Getting past the Hillary Step was equally strenuous and the long queue of climbers only made life harder. But once we reached the summit our fatigue completely vanished. The sunrise from the top was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I will always remember the 20 minutes we spent there.
The achievements of these past weeks are just beginning to sink in, but I can proudly say that I have returned a stronger individual and above all a Nepali who loves Nepal.
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