The narrow trails through the Himalayas are made of rocks and dirt, often covered in rain or snow depending on the elevation. There are no motorized transportation, except for the plane to Lukla and the emergency helicopter for the medical evacutees. That means the only way to get supplies throughout the network of villages is on the back of a yak or sherpa. Sherpas out number yaks about 50 to 1. Most people that show up here are on package tours that they arranged ahead of time back where it was warm. An incredibly few number of people attempt the trek without. We were weak and we knew it so when we arrived at Lukla we immediately found a sherpa. Nima, a 5’2″ small framed Nepalese, hauled our overstuffed XL duffel bag (about 50lbs) through the mountains while we only carried small day packs. He was always ahead of us, waiting for our slow bums to catch up. Nima came from a long family line of sherpas and started when he was 12 years old. He says that’s why he’s so short. He was deft and creative at tying bags with knots. His english was decent and doubled as our guide. Sherpas here make on average $8 a day here and during the high tourist months of Oct. and Nov. will traverse these trails 5 times. That made it kind of hard to complain too much about our single trip. During the off seasons the snow pours down on the Himalayas unrelentingly, and without a break so all the shops and guesthouses in the snow zone lock up and head lower. When I asked him what happens if you stay he replied, ”You die.” The money they make in the 4 months of tourisms pays for life the rest of the year and it was getting increasingly harder to find independent travelers looking for local sherpas. Nima was literally the back bone of our trip and an ideal companion for these rugged mountains. I was sad that there was no way to recommend him to others as he had no email and no phone.
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