Super Sherpa: “Save Mount Everest”

So Apa Sherpa is about to climb Mount Everest for the 20th time. Yes, that would break his own record. At 50 years old (he estimates), he is nearly double my age, but I have difficulty hiking hills. If I compare myself with the very smart man who has climbed the highest peak for the most number of times, I realize my laziness.

Apa grew up in the foothills of Everest (whereas I was born in the foothills of Annapurna and Machapuchhre, 800 meters less than Everest) and began carrying equipment and supplies for trekkers and mountaineers at age 12 (whereas I was taken to school when I was 12 months old because my mother is a school teacher).

Apa is a small man in stature, with a wide smile, whose nickname is "Super Sherpa." And he climbs with a mission. Last year, he spent a half an hour at the top of the summit to reveal a banner that said "Stop Climate Change." This year, he says he will take the ashes of Edmund Hillary, one of the first Everest Summiters, and scatter them at the peak. Apa says that he will “pray for Hillary from the summit."

But he still has an environmental--and educational--focus for this climb. The new mission is called "Eco Everest Expedition 2010," and Apa aims to bring down nearly 7 tons of garbage from Camp Two (21,500 feet), and one ton of garbage from above Camp Two. Apa also recently launched his own foundation to help life other Nepalis out of poverty, through education and economic opportunities.

The 17-member team will set out for the expedition on April 20.

--Rajneesh Bhandari