Newslines: What inspired both of you to climb Mt Everest?
Chhoki Sherpa: I always wanted to climb Everest since I was in my teens. So basically it is a dream come true. I had heard a lot of stories of the Late Pasang Lamu the first Nepali female summiteer. I was very inspired by her.So I had made up my mind to be at the top of the world. Sharmila Tamang: My father is in this profession. I myself worked as a Trekking guide for Three Sisters Trekking company in Pokhara.Our climbing MT Everest was planned a year ago with the mission Buddha was born in Nepal.
Newslines: For physical fitness what kind of training did you go through?
Chhoki Sherpa: There was no special training. I did the normal jogging, rock climbing, wall climbing and hand power. I think more than physical mental preparedness is required. One needs to be confident. Sharmila Tamang: Climbing is not so difficult for a person who is normally climbing up and down mountains. I could only scale till 8600 meters. My health did not permit me to climb higher. It was a big disappointing but as my health didn’t permit so I was grounded.Sound health till base camp is not enough. The main difficulty starts after that, till camp four I was fine. According to Choki Sherpa for her personally climbing Everest wasn’t as tough as people had talked about. She had heard stories about how extremely difficult and risky it is. She also says that she had been lucky as the weather was good making climbing favourable. She feels she didn’t feel like she was climbing MT Everest. There were a total 11 member team in her group. They had all gone with different missions, only the two of them, their mission was Buddha was born in Nepal.
Newlines: Was the backup support good?
Chhoki Sherpa: Yes it was good. There was a young guy who was carrying oxygen cylinders of 25 KGS for me up to Everest base camp and back.
Newslines: From base camp how many days did it take to reach the Summit? Camp 2 and 3 took 3 days each and then to South pole 4 days. Newslines: What about food? Till camp we were able to eat our regularly dal and rice. After that it was dry fruits, chocolates and energy food. Newlines: Did you guys suffer from altitude sickness? Both of them had the same answer not much basically being mountain girls. Slight headaches they say everyone suffers, even if it is a summiteer climbing for the 10th time.
Newslines:How long did you remain at the top of the world?
Chhoki Sherpa: For about 15 minutes.We reached the balcony of Everest early morning and changed our oxygen cylinders. From the balcony till the top there a was a long line of summiteers, so we had to wait for our turn. She jokes and says I felt like I was in a traffic jam in Kathmandu.
Newslines :What are your plans for the future?
Sharmila Tamang: I don’t have any ambitious plans. The ropes along the trail have become old. I would like to replace it. Along the trails there is a lot of rubbish materials like bottles and plastic which makes it dirty. I would like to clean that. Although there are so many campaigns and project to clean Everest hardly anything concrete has been done she feels.
Chhoki Sherpa: I have lived in Korea for five years. Internationally people talk about MT Everest and Buddha. But the name of my country Nepal is hardly mentioned. I want to make a name for Nepal. There is still a lot to be done to improve Mountaineering in Nepal. A lot opportunity lies in Mountaineering. Nepal could earn a lot of revenues. Our youth today, mostly seek for foreign employment. If this sector grows we stop people going abroad.
Sharmila Tamang: I would like to continue in this field. I don’t have big plans. I am a married woman with a child. Many people asked me “why do you want to climb Mt Everest leaving your child alone?” In our society people still think Mountaineering is a men’s sports. I want to break such barriers.I would like to see more women scale Mt Everest. So far we have 21 female Sumitters out of the 300 Sumitters from different parts of the world.