This past spring, Lhakpa Sherpa summited Everest for the ninth time, extended her own world record for the most summits of a woman on that mountain. In fact, she was recognized by the Guinness Book of Worlds Records for her achievement, which put her in rarified company even with the male Sherpas in Nepal. Now, she’s gearing up to make her tenth summit on Everest in 2019 and yet she still doesn’t have a proper sponsorship despite her accomplishments in the Himalaya.
This story as brought to my attention by the Expedition News, which reports that this past spring climbing season, Lhakpa received some support from Black Diamond, which provided gear and money for her climbing endeavors. But for 2019, she is seeking additional support from the outdoor industry, as well as management and public relations assistance too. So far, there hasn’t been many takers.
When not climbing in Nepal, Lhakpa lives in Hartford, Connecticut here in the U.S. where she works at Whole Foods earning $11.50/hour. Her duties include washing dishes and taking out the trash, and while the job provides enough to help support herself and her two daughters, it leaves little money –– or time –– to dedicate to training and climbing. The challenges that Sherpa faces in her day-to-day life were chronicled in detail in a recent profile done by Business Insider, which offers some insights into why she loves to climb. In the story, Lhakpa says that she believes that women are better climbers than men, in part due to their patience and demeanor.
It hasn’t been until recent years that female Sherpas (known as Sherpani) have been allowed to play more pivotal roles in terms of guiding and expedition leadership. To that end, Lhakpa has launched her own company known as Cloudscape Climbing. The organization offers expeditions to “any mountain in Nepal,” with detail intermarries available for Everest, Manaslu, and other major peaks. She also offers guided hikes in the New England area as well for those looking to take a walk with a famous mountaineer.
The odd question to me is, why doesn’t Lhakpa Sherpa have more prominent sponsors in the outdoor industry? Would a man who has summited Everest nine times have difficulty getting support for his tenth attempt? In an era where we’re looking for more female role models and leaders, she is an example of someone who has persevered through many challenges and continues to pursue her dreams. That seems like someone who deserves more support and attention in my opinion. Hopefully she’ll get the sponsorships she needs to return to the mountain once again.
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