The living history of the first successful ascent of Mt. Everest, Kancha Sherpa
The story of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa and Sir Edmund Hillary’s ‘Mount Everest’ has become a legend. But the thrill of that expedition 68 years ago, the passion and the miraculous change it brought to the local community living under Mt. Everest is still alive in a man’s memory. He is Kancha Sherpa, a member of the first successful expedition to Everest. Kancha is a member of the team that successfully climbed Mt. Everest in 1953.
Sherpa, who has bright eyes, has become an ’89-year-old grandfather’.Kancha spent his entire life in Namche Bazaar, the main business center of the Khumbu region. Namche, which has a population of about 1,500, used to have a difficult life 100 years ago. Now the lifestyle of the community living in the area has changed dramatically.
Gorgeous lodges with tourist attractions, internet cafes, gift shops and coffee houses, hikers, and sidewalks. This is the beauty of today’s Namche market. The main basis of Khumbu’s development is the annual tourists. Khumbu is prosperous today due to international tourists.
There is a difference between the life of Namche when he was young and now Namche. At that time, people used to eat potatoes. He recalls that most of the Sherpas go to the forest in search of mushrooms for food.
A young man from Namche at the time did not even know that the giant ‘Chomolongma’ Everest at the head of the Khumbu Valley was the highest mountain in the world. But that all came to a head when, in 1953, the Swiss climber came to climb Chomolong, ‘Everest’.
Then he saw Tenzing Norgay accompanying him, who was a miraculous leader of the high mountain Sherpas who joined the expedition. Kancha had climbed Mt. Everest with the first team without any experience.
The same year that Tenzing was seen with the Swiss climber, Kancha, who was carrying a heavy head loaded with luggage, climbed up to Namche and met three sherpas dressed as blondes. “I asked them, how did you get the money to buy such a jacket?’Kancha said, ‘And they said – in Darjeeling, working with Tenzing Norgay. Then Kancha decided to go to Darjeeling.
“Tenzing asked my father’s name,” says Kancha. He knew my father well. Then I had the opportunity to work with him. Tenzing bought Kancha new clothes. he spent about three months at Tenzing’s house carrying water, washing clothes, and helping with the kitchen.”One day, Tenzing suddenly said, ‘Young man, we are going to Kathmandu now.’ From there to Chomolong “Everest”.
Although Kancha had no experience in mountaineering, he was happy to get a job. At that time, Kancha’s daily salary was five rupees. This amount was four times more than a wage for carrying goods around Khumbu. He met the British in Kathmandu. This was the first time that Kancha had met an Englishman face to face. After arriving in Chomolong, the experienced Sherpas showed Kancha how to walk in the snow with a crampon and how to use an ice ax. I was afraid of the icefall.
Like most Sherpas, Kancha was climbing Mt. Everest, not for personal satisfaction but to earn money. The biggest prize for Sherpa’s team in 1953 was a bonus of Rs. 300 for carrying goods to south cole. this was a strategic move by expedition team leader John Hunt, who was well aware of the importance of keeping oxygen bottles and other essentials in the South Cole for the team’s success.
Tenzing’s steadfast leadership is still fresh in Kancha’s memory. They cooked tea and feed us, also gave us some (lunch). Some of the Sherpas ‘feet were as cold as snow’, Kancha recalls. So he massaged their feet to warm them. He was a very strong and resilient man.
The youngest was in the second camp when Hillary and Tenzing took the first step at the summit. There was no radio at that time. So we were just waiting ‘, said the youngest,’ when they came down they celebrated. We hugged. One thing still haunts him, as he remembers the food left by his team on Mount Everest. “We left food in the second camp – biscuits, canned meat, tea, and sweets,” he said.
Kancha continued to work in the highlands until his wife reminded him to quit his life-threatening job in 1973. For some years now, he has become a celebrity in Namche.
Tourism is good for Sherpas, ‘he says,’ but it’s not good for the gods.