The context

After visiting all the schools from Lukla upwards, I find it interesting to write a post about education in Khumbu valleys.

Only 58 years ago the first modern school was created in this area. Until then, monasteries were the only educational institutions where students who wanted to become monks were educated, and so most lay people were left without any formal training.

In 1960 there was a first attempt to establish schools in Namche and Chaurikharka, when the Nepalese government sent a few teachers there, but it turned out that there weren’t buildings to teach!

The establishment of schools with suitable classrooms and qualified teachers began in 1961 when Edmund Hillary built the Khumjung School. Soon other neighbouring villages asked for help to have their own school. This is how the schools of Thame (1963), Pangboche (1964) and Phortse (1968) were created in the upper part of the Khumbu.          

Since there were no literate people in Nepali and English here, Edmund Hillary had to look for qualified teachers in the Sherpa communities of Darjeeling, India.

From Lukla onwards, there are now eleven primary schools and two upper secondary schools that house more than 1,500 students.

One fact that caught my attention is that in all the schools I have visited, every morning, before the classwork starts, students gather in the playground, form by levels and they do some gymnastics exercises, some schools at the pace of drums and others following the rhythm of a song sung by older students. They also say a prayer and sing the Nepali national anthem.  

To complement this introduction, I think it is appropriate to talk about three schools located in three villages in the upper part of Khumbu: Khumjung (3,790 m), Thame (3,750 m) and Namche (3,450 m).     

Map of Khumbu 

Khumjung Secondary School (Hillary School)

Created by Edmund Hillary in 1961, started with two classrooms and was the first school in all of Khumbu.

It currently consists of 17 buildings, with two levels of kindergarten (3 to 5 years) and 10 levels of primary and secondary with 21 teachers and a total of 314 students (half girls and half boys). Classes are held in English, Nepali and Sherpa are also taught. For the learning of Sherpa they have only one teacher, who is a lama.            

At the same school there is a small residence for non-Khumjung teachers. For students who are far away, there are two buildings (hostels) in the same school, where they live throughout the course. They only go home during long vacation periods. In the village there are two private hostels more.

Himalaya Primary School in Namche

Namche’s first school was created in the 1960s and the current one, which consists of 3 buildings, was built between 2014 and 2015. It opened on May 24, 2015, a day before the strong earthquake that shook Nepal. The school was virtually unharmed and after a few minor repairs it was put into operation a month later.  

The school has 13 classrooms and accommodates 220 students who can study there until level 8 and then continue to level 10 at Khumjung school. There are 12 teachers, of whom the government only pays 2 and the other are paid by the parents with a monthly fee of 1,000 rupees (about 8 €) per students well as donations from private sponsors. As in Khumjung, the teaching is in English but Nepali, and more recently Sherpa, are also taught.

The school has its own hostel where about 25 boys and girls live throughout the school year. In the village there is also another private hostel where about sixty boys and girls live.

Thame Basic School

This is a small school, established in 1963, just 2 years after Khumjung. It is now completely new as the 2015 earthquake completely devastated it. There are only 24 boys and girls from 5 to 13 years old. They are 6 teachers and have 7 levels. They must mix girls and boys of different levels in the same classroom. They teach in the Sherpa and Nepali languages.

Their main concern is the small number of students they have. That’s why they have created a kindergarten for children from two and a half years old, to guide them to school.     

One of the factors influencing the small number of students is that they cannot stay to live in the village because there is no hostel and due to this families from places far from Thame prefer to send them to Khumjung or Namche and thus avoid that they have to make long walks to and from school. For the next school year, this will no longer be a problem as a hostel is being built at the same school. This is expected to double the number of students in 3 or 4 years.

A family’s conviction that their child can study

To end this post, I want to tell you about the effort and conviction of a family I met, and especially of the mother, to take the child to school. It’s an example that impressed me.

This is a family living in the village of Thamo, an hour’s walk from Namche. They have a 5-year-old boy and they decided to take him to Namche school, but their financial situation does not allow them to face the annual expense of about $ 1,000, so that he cann’t stay in the school hostel.

Convinced of the importance of education for her son, every day the mother accompanies her son, on foot, to the school in Namche (10 in the morning), and back to Thamo. There are days when she takes advantage of the trip to carry some load and thus earn some rupees. In the afternoon again to Namche to pick up her son (4pm) and to Thamo back home. This every day of the school year. 4 hours walks the mother and 2 the child!

An example of a family that has clear in mind the value of education for their child’s future. The day I met them they were halfway back home. The mother was tired but smiling as we were talking and the child eager to go from here to there as if it was a game. Like in those documentaries of the “Way to School”, but live. Simply exemplary and awesome!


Well, yes and no. Early August, in the post LIVE WALKING, I told you that in the lower part of the Solokhumbu they are already opening a road that sooner or later seems would reach Lukla. Well, a month and a half later it looks like it will be earlier than late.

Lukla is where the trekking in this area begins, and unless you climb from below, this village can only be reached by small planes that can land at the small and dangerous Tenzing-Hillary Airport.

Schematic layout of the new road that will connect Phaplu with Chaurikharka (Lukla) 

Often planes cannot enter or leave Lukla due to weather conditions and this is a major inconvenience for both local people and tourists. Without going any further, last week they were five days without arriving or leaving planes, with more than 300 people stranded in Lukla which, being still low season, is a lot of people. And a similar amount had to be expected in Kathmandu to go up here.

Not only planes could not fly but neither helicopters. One day, some tried it and out of 12 who were allowed to leave Lukla, 10 had to make emergency landings before reaching Kathmandu. Newspapers and social networks were full of it.        

It’s not the first time this has happened. in November 2011, more than 3,000 tourists were stranded in Lukla after adverse weather conditions halted flights from Kathmandu for six consecutive days. It is a recurring problem every year.

That was the trigger, I suppose, that led the Khumbu municipality authorities to explain the resumption of the project to extend the road from Phaplu to Kharikhola, the village where the Khumbu region begins. This project dates back years but due to the two earthquakes of 2015 it was stopped.

Work on opening the road from Kharikhola (2,100 m) to Chaurikharka (2,700 m), about three kilometres from Tenzing-Hillary Airport, has already begun and is expected to be completed in July next year. The asphalt will still have to wait, although some voices say it could be ready in 2021.

The road will stop at Chaurikharka and will not go higher as it will enter the Sagarmatha National Park. It is also planned that only electric vehicles will run on this last stretch of road.       

This project raises, however, a great concern. What will be the increase in mountain tourism in the area because of this improvement? This worries many people in the area as there are currently peaks in the influx of people in high season that deplete the accommodation capacity. But it’s not just accommodation that matters. It is the supply of food, health care, environmental impact, basic services such as water or electricity. All these services, here require much more time to adapt to a greater demand.

If now, with 65,000 visitors a year, the Khumbu is already on the edge, what can happen if many more arrive in the short term? I guess they can die of success.


Today I want to tell you a curious and surprising fact that happens every year in the village of Dingboche.

Dingboche is a village located on flat ground, sheltered from the winds and very sunny. It is at 4,350 m. of height, only to 2 days, walking, to the Everest Base Camp and when somebody does a trekking, it is ideal to remain 2 nights to achieve a good acclimatization before climbing until the 5,300 m of Everest Base Camp or the 5,600 m of the “small” peak of Kala Patthar.

It is a village made up of lodges, hotels, cafes and some houses dedicated to agriculture and livestock. It is surrounded by many small fields, all enclosed by stone walls, dedicated to the cultivation of potatoes, buckwheat, and grass to feed the animals.        

As you can imagine, today it is a village living mainly from tourism, but despite this, from mid-July to early September it is a “locked” village, where any activity can be done. All buildings must be closed, and no construction, farming or livestock work can be done.

We went there in early September and I can assure you it made a weird feeling. A village with most buildings in good condition but all literally locked, and without a single person on the street.       

In the surrounding fields there was no one working either. The works were stopped, and we saw a lodge under construction that started it two years ago. Not being able to work during this month and a half of summer, which is when they can work the most here, in this town the works take much longer.

A century-old rule

Like me, you’re probably wondering why it is still in force. Well, more than 100 years ago, when there was no tourism, and in this plain mainly black barley was cultivated, the inhabitants of the village, greatly influenced by the monks of a nearby monastery, adopted this rule to protect this crop.

Black barley is native from Ethiopia and has been grown in the highlands of Nepal for centuries. It was, and is, much appreciated for its nutritional value and because it does not need any kind of processing. It can go directly from the field to the table. But it turns out that it is a crop extremely sensitive to any type of contamination, whether smoke, waste or any other human or animal activity. This is the origin of this ancient rule.

Currently, however, this rule has lost the sense because, as some residents of Chhukung, a village above told me, two years ago only three neighbours planted black barley and this year, none!

Despite this, the rule continues to be applied, although, according to these same neighbours, more and more people are against it and some already think that it should be abolished. When this will happen, if it happens, we will have another example of how mountain tourism is transforming these valleys.

A committee of 3 people is appointed each year to monitor the rule compliance, two from Pangboche (which is where most of the people who have lodges or land in this village come from) and one from Dingboche. Failure to follow the rule will result in a penalty.

However, on our way back down Dingboche, we went down throughout a higher path and saw two or three people working hidden behind a building.

Forced vacation

And what about people? So, during this time that the village is closed, some of the people go to live in a village with a few very precarious buildings, located a little higher.

We also found 4 or 5 tents in a meadow above the village, with people living there all this time doing nothing, waiting to be allowed to go back to the village.     

Most go to Pangboche, Khunde or Kathmandu, and those who may afford it, take the opportunity to take a trip.

Other rules for crop protection or regulation

This is not the only crop protection rule. In the villages of Thame, Khunde, Khumjung and Phortse, the tradition of the Sherpa people to protect crops, as agriculture here has many limitations, is done by another fully justified and not so drastic rule (Dee).

During summer months, there can be no cattle in or around these villages, so they cannot enter the fields and damage the crops. Cattle are taken to the highlands where they have many green meadows to graze. Each village has its own monitoring committee for compliance with the rule, like Dingboche, and sanctions for those who violate it.

In the valley up towards the Everest Base Camp, they also have a rule for cutting and drying grass, which will be used as food for the cattle during the winter. They start with the ones below, and week by week they advance up the valley.

It is Dingboche’s turn to cut the grass (this year it was September 11) when the village reopens and recuperates activity and life.

And, until next summer!


Two days ago, with my friend and guide Pasang, came back to Namche after a week hiking in the Gokyo Valley. This is one of the visits we do to each of the Khumbu valleys and they are the foundations on which the results of this project will be built.

During this week we walked about 25 hours to do 75 km, but with more than 3,000 m. up and, of course, 3,000 m. down, to discover all the nooks of the valley.

You may be wondering, what’s is the interest besides fitting the body and enjoying the scenery? Well, it’s been a week of walking alone in places where in the high seasons, spring and autumn, there are even small traffic jams from so many people who go there. Maybe is romanticism, but it’s been an extraordinary experience and very different from the other times I’ve been trekking around this country.

When I say alone, I mean we haven’t met any tourists, as they name the foreigners doing trekking or expeditions.

On the other hand, we met many, many Sherpas going up and down the trails, looking for mushrooms, going to or returning from the weekly market in Namche or going up with heavy construction materials on their backs to the building sites in progress. during summer. This has been an experience that, besides to seeing spectacular places and landscapes, has helped me to discover the Sherpas’ life in “low season”. A life that is not marked by the rhythm of trekking groups and their agencies but is their life at a “quiet” time of year. That’s what I want to tell you today.            

A valley without villages

The Gokyo Valley follows the course of the Dudh Koshi River to its headwaters at the end of the long Ngozumba Glacier which reaches the foot of Cho Oyu (8,188 m). It is a valley where there are no permanently inhabited villages. There are a series of hamlet formed by lodges, or similar accommodation for tourists, or old settlements where in summer the Sherpas go with cattle to graze, since yore.

In fact, the main settlements  between Namche and Gokyo, until the arrival of tourism, were settlements of this kind, which, due to their strategic location, have been consolidated as places for tourists. That is why many lodges have been built there in the last 25 or 30 years. They are the settlements of Dole, Luza, Macchermo and Gokyo.

They have nor schools neither community services as their inhabitants do not live there all year round and have their own home in lower villages, mainly Khumjung and Khunde. Part of the family lives there, especially the children, because that’s where the school is. Maccherrmo and Gokyo have a couple of small health care facilities, called rescue posts, sponsored by foreign foundations, open only in the spring and fall because they are designed primarily to serve tourists.

There are also smaller hamlets of lodges that have been built in other points along the way, such as Mong La, Phortse Tenga or Phang, where there is no other activity than accommodation during the tourist seasons and therefore you don’t find no one there in summer or winter.

A leisurely walk like the one we have done these days has also allowed us to discover a multitude of small settlements, often far from the main road, either at the bottom of the valley or hanging in places that seem inaccessible on the slopes of the valley.

They all follow the same pattern. They are settlements made up of many fields of grass, and some of potatoes, completely enclosed by stone walls, and with small rather precarious buildings, which serve as accommodation for them while they work there and to store the grass once. cut and dried, which will then be used to feed livestock in winter. It is in winter when cattle and their food go down to the villages below, where the owners have their home.

Summer is a time of rain but also a time for building

We have seen on the roads many people carrying up building materials. Materials of many kinds but one to highlight. Wood. Here, houses are built mainly by stone and wood. They already have the stone in place, they just have to break it and shape it. They are very competent stonemasons.

But they have to bring the wood from very low, from where there are forests and they can get permission to cut it. The wood dealers take it by helicopter to Syangboche, just above Namche, there they sell it and from there it is carried, in “packages” weighing about 95 kg, loaded on their back and on foot, to the building sites where will be used. I would to point out that a person who carries a load of these, takes a couple of days until he gets his destination, he receives 7,000 rupees, half of which is spent on accommodation and food. He has 3,500 rupees left, or about € 28 for 3 days of work. And what a job!

The existing lodges do a lot of building works in the summer (everyone we visited had a site in progress) and some were building a new one. A small construction fever. However, in the  tourist peak season, there is a lack of accommodation.

The sites are very well organized so that, if it rains, they can continue working. Carpenters, stonemasons and those who assemble the structures work under tarpaulins. Because they only have the summer to do the construction work, they can’t do it any other way.       

A valley with two ways of life that in summer is only one

As you can already guess, the activity focused on tourism, which is the majority in this valley, and the strictly agricultural and livestock, in clear decline, show us two very different ways of life. The one with the most profitable tourism and the other with very little.

Now in summer, however, everything is agricultural and herding activity and lodges are almost all closed or under construction. We have therefore been able to see the same in the hamlets of lodges as in the small agricultural settlements. Cattle, especially yaks and naks, graze in the meadows, and people cut, dry and store the grass for winter. Because it is summer and it rains a lot, when they cut the grass they have to pile it up and cover it every day so that it does not get wet and many days more than once. During the day, if they see that it should not rain, they scatter it in the field and in the evening, or if it rains again, they pile it again.

A very important fact to highlight, from my point of view. The first lawn mowers have arrived in these places a year ago. They are our brushcutters! This is a small step towards a mechanization of agriculture that seems almost impossible here. One neighbour told me that the machine does the job seven times faster than doing it by hand. However, most people still cut hands.

I also want to highlight the great fondness for looking for wild mushrooms, by the way delicious, that these people have. Since it’s raining, now is the time for wild mushrooms. They are eaten fresh, but most of all, they are dried for the rest of the year.

A valley with two ways of life that in summer is only one

As you can already guess, the activity focused on tourism, which is the majority in this valley, and the strictly agricultural and livestock, in clear decline, show us two very different ways of life. The one with the most profitable tourism and the other with very little.

Now in summer, however, everything is agricultural and herding activity and lodges are almost all closed or under construction. We have therefore been able to see the same in the hamlets of lodges as in the small agricultural settlements. Cattle, especially yaks and naks, graze in the meadows, and people cut, dry and store the grass for winter. Because it is summer and it rains a lot, when they cut the grass they have to pile it up and cover it every day so that it does not get wet and many days more than once. During the day, if they see that it should not rain, they scatter it in the field and in the evening, or if it rains again, they pile it again.

A very important fact to highlight, from my point of view. The first lawn mowers have arrived in these places a year ago. They are our brushcutters! This is a small step towards a mechanization of agriculture that seems almost impossible here. One neighbour told me that the machine does the job seven times faster than doing it by hand. However, most people still cut hands.

I also want to highlight the great fondness for looking for wild mushrooms, by the way delicious, that these people have. Since it’s raining, now is the time for wild mushrooms. They are eaten fresh, but most of all, they are dried for the rest of the year.                     

At the bottom of the Gokyo Valley, descending to the left downstream, we come to what we might consider the fourth largest village in the upper Khumbu. It is the village of Phortse. But we will talk about the Khumbu villages another day.

Today I wanted to tell you about our experience of walking a week in the mountains, without haste, without people and with time to stop when you feel like it, talk to the local people, listen to their stories, legends or tragedies and, at times, living as they do, sharing table, cooking, and why not, drinking a glass of their liquor, the chhang. Doing this without feeling like a simple tourist but someone who listens to them, who is interested in their life, their religious practices, the expectations of their youth or their lack of service. This can only be done at times such as having no customers in the lodges and having time to be able to share with you. By the way, they are great conversationalists, among themselves. But the language barrier keeps me from participating!


We have heard a lot about the waste left by the expeditions to Everest from the base camp to the summit. This is the most visible part and has always had more media coverage, but it is a very small part of the waste problem in the Khumbu valleys.

To talk about waste in Khumbu is to talk about the whole solid waste generated by the inhabitants and all the people who visit this area every year. And it is also to talk about human waste, which becomes a source of pollution that goes directly to glaciers and rivers.

According to the 2011 census, the Khumbu valleys were inhabited by 7,161 people and currently it is estimated that around 8,000 live here.

On the other hand, every year, Khumbu is visited by 65 or 70,000 people among expeditions, treks and other forms of tourism. These figures already give an idea of ​​the extent of waste generated in these valleys, with the aggravation that all these people concentrate virtually in 6 months, spring and autumn, which are the seasons of good weather.

To explain how this environmental problem is faced, I would like to speak of two initiatives: the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee which dates to 1991 and, one of the most recent, the Sagarmatha Next that was launched a couple of years ago.

 The Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC)

At the end of the 80s of the last century, there was concern about the problem of waste in these valleys, and it was from this concern that local people created a local NGO, with the aim of managing waste and keep the Khumbu clean. Was the SPCC (www.spcc.org.np).

Among the work they have done in these 28 years, I want to highlight the containers located on the main trails, the local management groups and the creation of garbage dumps in each village. It may seem nothing, but we have to take in account about where we are talking and under what conditions they should work. The construction of stone-made bins is practically finished on the most popular trekking trails. Most of these bins, which have been replacing some of the metallic oldest ones, are located in the small resting areas that are on the main trails, and allow the waste separation into glass and cans, and plastic and paper. Last week, going up and down in a valley, I had the opportunity to meet one of the teams that build them and see how, when we got off, they had already finished one which, when we went up, was at the beginning. In 3 days, they built one!        

For the management and collection of rubbish, in all these years they have created 23 management groups with a very important role of the Groups of Women and Youth Clubs, very active in the villages of these valleys. The collection is done, as it could not be otherwise, on foot, collecting the garbage door to door and carrying them to the landfills.

Of landfills, I have also seen in all the villages and even the small settlements where someone lives there all year round. One of these places, Lungden, where only three families live year-round and located at 4,350 meters, have their dump.                     

The Sagarmatha Next

Sagarmatha Next (www.sagarmathanext.com) is a very innovative environmental project that wants to be the driver of sustainable tourism in the Sagarmatha National Park. For so it brings together, in a single project, Education, Art and Entertainment related to the environment and waste, as well as the management of the waste itself. This project is fully funded by a social investor and is developed in collaboration with the SPCC and other organizations committed to the sustainability of tourism in these valleys. It is a daring bet, that not everyone understands here, but I am convinced that finally they will gain the recognition of local people.                

The project includes the construction of 4 buildings, with a total of about 700 m2, located at 300 meters above Namche. They are buildings with a very special design and built following the traditional way of local building, based on stone and wood, incorporating, but also, special techniques to make them resistant to earthquakes, very common here.

As you can guess, the conditions with which they work on this site, meteorology, altitude or supply of materials, make this site unique.

The main building will be a well-equipped interpretation centre.

The second building will be an exhibition hall for resident artists or guests, and a cafeteria.

A third one will be the workshop for resident artists, and the creations will have to be from waste.

The fourth building will be a small store where artists’ works will be sold.

They plan to open to the public next October, which will also be used to carry out a pilot test of a project I found to be great. That’s what they call the “Carry Me Back” project.

Here they will make a waste selection and everything metallic or plastic will be compacted in small packages of 1kilo, then climbers, trekkers and visitors will be kindly asked to take these bags down to Kathmandu.

And what may it represent? Well, if people’s response is positive, as expected, with the number of people visiting these valleys, more than 50 tonnes of waste might be carried to Kathmandu every year, at no cost.

Later on, I will explain how the whole set of buildings is finished, how the pilot test works and how artistic activity is carried out in such a special place.


Living in the valleys of Khumbu means, among many other things, that everything is done on foot. Here there are no roads or vehicles of any kind.

On foot they go to school, to see family, to the market, to the health centre (where there is), on foot they carry from place to place any load, whether light or heavy, or garbage are collected (where they do), and thus a long etcetera. There is an exception to doing so on foot, the helicopter, but affordable for very few people in these valleys.

It is worth mentioning that for a few years, now, most heavy construction materials are carried up with helicopters to Syangboche, just above Namche, and from there, then yes, on foot to where they will be used.

When we do a trek or a similar activity that is done on foot, we do it occasionally and for pleasure. Have to do it always on foot, with sun, rain or cold, be young or old, it’s another thing.

These days, going up to the village of Namche, from where I will develop this project, walking alone because I was alone and because I found no one almost on the way, I had time to think about this aspect of the Sherpa and not Sherpa people’s life who live in these valleys.

And then I was thinking about the hardness of their life and the simplicity with which they have to live. The simple thing to buy something as we do it, at the store, at the mall or by Internet, which allows us to have everything with a click, depending on our possibilities, and often things that, if we think on it, we would realise that we don’t need them to nothing. This so simple things, here where I am now, cannot be done.

Even so, here in Namche, being the centre of the mountain tourism activity in the Everest area, there are many more options to buy things and find services that other villages in these valleys don’t have.

This leads me to explain that here, because tourism has two very marked seasons, spring and fall, now in summer, and I suppose that in winter it will be the same, these options almost disappear because most shops and hotels and lodges, are closed.

Now, here there are practically only local people, who make a life totally different from that during tourist seasons. They take the opportunity to rest, make repairs and improvements to their homes, take care of the garden if they have it, make family life, join for parties, that is to say, what they cannot do during the peak season. It seems to me that this way of life is a bit like the life in villages where tourism has no influence. I’ll go see it when I go, and I’ll explain it to you.

My friend, Pasang, who is accompanying me to go through these valleys, always tells me that to know how the life of the Sherpa people is, it is necessary to leave Namche. That here it is very westernized, and he is right, but these days I am discovering a different Namche than I knew other times and, the truth, I was very surprised.

Returning to the initial thread of the non-existence of roads and vehicles, it comes to my mind the discussions in this country about whether or not to build roads to access to the remote places. Discussions that are neither alien to our country.

Recently, the government of Nepal is building roads in difficult areas and there are already many villages that can be reached by vehicles, motorcycles, cars and small buses. This means that in some well-known areas for trekking, they begin to change the routes of the traditional trekking because they no longer make sense to do them by road sections. But most people are happy because they no longer must walk three days to go to the nearest big town. And then three more days back.

What about Khumbu? Well, in the lower part, they are already opening a road that sooner or later it seems will reach Lukla, which is the starting point of treks and expeditions to the Everest area, and where there is now no other means of transport than by plane. Really, very small planes. Or on foot, of course.

Above, it is not so clear because the Sagarmatha National Park (Everest) has a special protection and some sites with an impossible terrain.

This means that the high places of the Khumbu are doomed for life to do everything on foot? Well, I do not know but for now it seems like yes.

So, contradictions of life, all on foot, often with the load on the back, but talking by the mobile, connected to the world!


Most of non-Nepalese people, especially the Westerners, when we talk about Sherpa, we think about people working as a porters or trekking and climbing guides in the Himalayan mountains in Nepal. But this is a biased and very limited view of an ethnic group, the Sherpa, which is a people of Tibetan origin, with a history, language, culture and traditions of its own.

In this post I will try to explain it in a synthesized and understandable way, to put this project in context.

The arrival of the first Sherpas in Nepal

Historians have established, based on the oral transmission of history and legends, that the first Sherpa arrived in Nepal about 500 years ago, from central Tibet, where they had arrived from the Kham region in the east of the country, probably displaced due to religious persecutions. In fact, the word Sherpa (Sharwa in its language) means people from the east.

They entered Nepal through the valleys of the Khumbu crossing the Himalayas through mountain passes of more than 5,000 m. looking for the beyul (hidden sacred valley). Initially, they were mostly established by the area known today as the Solukhumbu district formed by the Khumbu, Pharak and Shorong (Solu) regions. They also settled in the valley of Rolwaling, located west of Khumbu.

These lands were, at that time, uninhabited lands, with some of the toughest living conditions on earth. There they lived in a relative peace and practiced Vajrayana Buddhism, which is the basis of their culture, traditions and lifestyle.

Along the centuries, several groups arrived and were the origin of the four main Sherpa clans: Minyagpa, Thimmi, Sertawa and Chawa, from which the more than 20 clans that exist today are originated.

Initially, the first inhabitants settled down below what is now the village of Nauche (better known by Namche in Nepali) since at that time the upper valleys were very cold. With the completion of the Little Ice Age, around 1850, environmental conditions improved, and this allowed them to move gradually towards higher levels, movement, this one, which continues today as a result of the current climate change.

The Sherpa language

The Sherpa language belongs to the Tibetan language group, consisting of more than 25 languages ​​and more than 200 dialects. There is a widespread belief that the Sherpa language has no writing, but it is not true. What is certain is that, basically, it is a spoken language since the knowledge of the Sherpa write language is limited mainly to monks and some scholars.

The fact that education has been done, until recently, only in Nepali and English has had among other consequences that “Sherpa speakers” when they communicate in writing they do it in Nepalese or English.

The growing awareness of institutions and people in the revitalization of Sherpa’s language and culture has led to many initiatives in the field of education and the use of written language in recent years, which should reverse this situation.

The Khumbu and its inhabitants

The Khumbu region is formed by the set of the valleys of the upper river basin of the Dudh Kosi River and its three tributaries Bhote Kosi and Imja Khola, to the north of which we find three peaks of more than 8,000 m, the Cho Oyu, the Jomolangma (Everest) and Lhotse. The southern limit of this region is at the confluence of the Bhote Kosi and Dudh Kosi rivers, just above the village of Jorsale where, after crossing the new hanging bridge bearing the name of Edmund Hillary, the path begins up to Nauche, the main town of Khumbu.

After the last administrative reforms in Nepal, this area is known as Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality (KPLRM). According to data from the census of 2011, 8,989 people live there, of which 5,628 (62.62%) are Sherpas, which means that in this area is where live the largest Sherpa population, in relative terms, in the world

That is why I decided to develop my project in this area, to know better how it is its daily life in the XXI century.


Despite the many efforts made with the Nepalese authorities and the many support provided by the Sherpa community, the Ministry responsible for tourism in Nepal and the Nepalese Consulate in Barcelona, ​​I did not finally get the special permit to be able to stay one year round in Namche (3,440 m.) in order to live with the Sherpa community in the Khumbu valleys.

This has obliged me to reschedule the project and divide it into two periods of 5 months, which is the maximum visa time that the immigration authorities of the country grant for this type of stay within the same calendar year.

For this reason, I will stay 5 months from the end of July to the end of December 2019 and 5 months more from February to July 2020. This timetable implies to lose two months of the Sherpa life in the valleys of Khumbu, one in winter and the other in summer. It’s a pity since there are precisely two seasons of the year when life at those altitudes is tougher, because of cold in winter and monsoon rains in summer.

I hope. however, to establish the necessary personal ties with the people of the country, to collect the information of their daily life from these two months “by delegation”.