Finding Kipa

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Social media can be many things. A distraction, an addiction, a source of (mis)-information, a way to find new friends, a way to re- connect with old friends and family.
Which is exactly how, a couple of years ago, Kipa Sherpa and I found each other. Kipa Sherpa is one of two supermen, the other one being Dorje Sherpa, who supported my Everest summit in 1997.
big issue sheila koala and i on top of everest

One of the summit shots Kipa took for me. Here, with Sheila Koala, first koala, male or female, to climb Everest.

What had happened to Kipa? Base camp had been a strange place after our climb. Most expedition members had walked out, leaving just a married couple and the guide ‘she’ had been having an affair with. The mess tent had a very sad and cold  vibe to it. Not a location conducive to over the top celebrations! Fortunately, the Sherpa crew was there, wrapping up the camp. I spent my short time at BC in the Sherpa kitchen, a silly grin on my face, and at most times, a beer in my hand. 
The morning of our second day after coming down the mountain, a helicopter chartered by an Australian TV Channel plucked me out of the Days of our Lives drama, just in time for a plane to Oz and a press frenzy ( nothing else was happening that week LOL). You can read about Kipa’s, Dorje’s and my ascent in the Wind in my Hair ebook , along with many more adventures.
wind in my hair cover ower res

Click on cover to buy ebook version!

That was the last time I saw Kipa, smoking cigarettes and drinking beer and rakshi in the kitchen tent, laughing and celebrating our success. 
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Summit grins in the kitchen tent, May 1997. Left: Kipa Sherpa Right: Dorje Sherpa

What happened to him afterwards? A few attempts to find him and Dorje in Nepal did not succeed. It turned out that Kipa had moved to the USA, to NYC, Queens, Sherpa hub, in the early 2000’s . He was with his wife and two daughters, leaving two young sons in Nepal. 
Before our climb in 1997, which followed the Normal Route ( The South Col Route, first line of ascent) Kipa had already climbed Everest, in 1995, by the much harder South West Face. He found and led the way for a Korean expedition, becoming one of only two Sherpas to summit the highest mountain on Earth via that mighty face.
south west face with captions
And what did he do, this extraordinary man, after one more ascent to the top of the world? He worked every day in NY, for fifteen years, fifteen to eighteen hours a day to pay for his and  wife Pasang Sherpa’s four childrens education. 
That is one hell of a climb. One which was the best success of all: one which is giving Kipa’s children, now young adults, a better life, in the USA, in Nepal, and in Australia. 
If you want to find out more about Kipa and the Everest Sherpa summiteers of NYC, you’ll find a link at the end of the video to take you there.
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