Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita – Nepal’s First Female Mountaineering Instructor

We often find achievers who develop as celebrities with arrogance inbuilt in them. Many often dub such people as “Success Bitten crew whose feet refuse to be grounded.”

But on the other extreme of such ‘celebrity spectrum’, we find humble and down to earth personalities who inculcate humility and humanitarian values as they climb up the ladder of career graph. This post of Kalam Fan Club brings amazing story of a girl who was orphaned at the tender age of 15 with the additional responsibility to look after her younger sister. Meet Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita, a girl who was clueless of facing the life ahead, transforming as first ever Mountaineering women Instructor from Nepal with credit of reaching the summit of mountain K2, and Mount Everest in her kitty. Many of you could have brushed this aside as one more success story, but this girl’s Humanitarian mindset elevated her to the status of incredible human being for her selfless service to Earthquake victims of 2015, which shook the entire Nepal. Akita was rightly awarded National Geographic People’s Choice Adventurer of the year 2016, which is a unique award given to adventurers with humanitarian values.

PC: kathmandupost.ekantipur.com

Personal Life & Studies    

Akita was born in the year 1984 at a place called Khumjung in Nepal and brought up in a place called Lukla. She belongs to Sherpa community of Nepal which is known for its mountaineering skills. Akita lost her father at a very young age and she was orphaned at 15 as her mother too died. She relocated to Kathmandu with her sister, completed her high school studies and took up mountaineer. With respect to professional training as a mountaineer, she got trained at Conrad Anker’s Khumbu Climbing Center. Also, she has earned a diploma certification in mountaineering from École Nationale du ski et de l’alpinisme (fr) (ENSA) from Chamonix, France. Her first name ‘Pasang’ means Friday in Nepalese language and it signifies her birth day. Whereas her full name Pasang Lhamu Sherpa is inspired from the name of another Nepali woman who was the first to climb mount Everest who unfortunately died during her descent from Everest. Her last name ‘Akita’ is derived from her husband’s name Dr. Tora Akita, a Nepali with Japanese descent, a doctor by profession and she met him accidentally while getting treated for a mountaineering injury. Also, her family owns a restaurant in Louisville, Colorado, where she works part-time in between expedition breaks.

Accomplishments as Mountaineer

Akita has various accomplishments as a mountaineer. She is the first woman to climb Nangpai Gosum 2, in the year 2006. In the year 2007, she reached the summit of Mt. Everest. Later in the year 2014, she reached the Peak of K2 Mountain in Canada with her three women team from Nepal. This accomplishment is unique owing to the fact it was the first Nepali women team to climb K2. Other members of her team were Maya Sherpa and Dawa Yangzum Sherpa also this climb was organized to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first climb of K2. Other successful climbs are of Yala Peak, Ama Dablam, Lobuche, Imja Tse, and Aconcagua.

As mentioned earlier Akita is not only a mountaineer but also an accomplished instructor and notably first women mountaineering instructor from Nepal. She has guided numerous expeditions not only in Nepal, But also in USA, Argentina, France, and Pakistan.

Amazing act as a Social Service Volunteer

All that is written about Akita in above paragraphs just depicts her success story as a professional adventurer sportsperson. But the true test of her character happened when Nepal witnessed worst tragedy On April 25, 2015, in form of massive Earth Quake of 7.8 magnitudes shook Nepal, killing more than 8,800 people and living millions homeless. Pasang Akita was having a cup of tea in Gorak Shep, a village at one hour’s walk distance from Everest base camp. Before this, she had guided an American climber Christopher Wynne, to 20,075-foot Lobuche Peak. Immediately Akita pooled up a group of people and started to hike towards Everest boot camp to rescue people from avalanche slides. Many onlookers considered this as dangerous move and warned them to return back. But Akita was firm in her mind that she could have been killed anytime in her expedition to Everest or as a 15-year-old girl if at all destiny wanted didn’t budge and carried out rescue operation with four of her peers.

PC: .nationalgeographic.com

Next day she immediately returned to Kathmandu and by ensuring the safety of her in-laws and husband took her mission forward to help those who were under the ruins of debris. She effectively utilized her International network as a mountaineering guide to mobilize help from all quarters. Within a week’s time, a photographer from Mexico Cira Crowell sent an affirmative message to Akita’s mission with a $500 monetary support.  Akita utilized the fund to buy tarps to all homeless people who were in around Kathmandu city. Soon she shifted her focus to remote villages which were at a one-hour driving distance from Kathmandu city. She didn’t forget to post the rehabilitation pictures in FaceBook by tagging Cira Crowell to credit her donations.  This had a cascading effect and food and other relief ingredients started pouring in. Akita made it a point to give credit to even $10 or $20 donations she received through FaceBook by posting pictures of food and tarps distribution acts. Initially, she concentrated her area of operation to Gorkha Village and its neighboring places.

PC: nationalgeographic.com

Her next immediate concern was to help people of Laprak, which is renowned for avalanche slides and dangerous seismic activity before this disaster struck. Laprak was completely cut-off from remaining villages with nearly 600 homes destroyed. Also, this village was only nine miles away from the epicenter of this disastrous earth quake.

Initially, Akita planned to hire Helicopters to provide food and basic amenities to these villagers. But soon twin mountaineers from Argentina Damian and Willie Benegas, joined hands with Akita and suggested her to avoid spending on costly copters and instead persuaded her to identify 50-100 efficient porters to send the food and other amenities to needy ones. This idea had two folded benefits: 1) Cutting down unnecessary money for hiring helicopters and 2) giving livelihood for local porters. Akita could mobilize a team of 50 porters who could carry food supplies, tarps, blankets to villages and repair trails encountered on their way.   The team also set up a project called Hamro Ghar project, for providing temporary shelter to elderly people with 16 beds and a cook to help them. Soon the team size grew to 85 porters, a doctor, a nurse and a journalist to assist them. Also, a health camp was established to provide emergency service to 36 pregnant women and 49 mothers having infants who were less than a year in age. Also, Akita successfully procured prenatal-care kits to help doctors.  Later in the month of November 2015, Akita and her American client Wynne, who was with her on the day of Earth quake mobilized funds from the USA to support the educational costs of poor children of Nepal, dubbed as Second Poorest Country of the globe. To sum up the Sacrifice and service Pasang Lhamu Akita made for the cause of humanity the following words of Jen Altschul, a reporter from National Geographic can be quoted—

“While Akita is undoubtedly the strongest and most experienced female climber in Nepal, her tenacity and fearlessness on the world’s highest summits are shadowed by her dedication to giving back to her country—especially in her incredible relief work immediately after the April earthquake.”

PC: kathmandupost.ekantipur.com

We at Kalam Fan Club Salute Akita for possessing humility and humanitarian instinct within her strong heart of capturing peaks of world’s deadliest mountains, rightly this woman is bestowed with National Geographic People’s choice adventurer for the year 2016 and she is also awarded 45th International Alpine Solidarity Award in Pinzolo, Italy.

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