For Kanchha Sherpa, 81, of Namche Bazaar, May 29 is etched in his memory for life. He was part of the team that helped Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary scale the world’s highest mountain on this day in 1953. The image of the legendary climbers sharing the joy of their achievement is still fresh in his mind.
He arrived in Kathmandu this afternoon to attend a joint function being organized by tourism and mountaineering organisations to mark the day though the government has shelved its plan to mark the 61st anniversary of the conquest of world highest peak this year as ‘it coincides with the Republic Day.
The only living legend of the 1953 expedition recalls that there were 15 Sherpas and 16 foreigners in the team. “It took us 22 days to reach the Base camp from Bhaktapur and the summit was made in 45 days,” he told THT.
Kanchha joined Tenzing’s team after his father Angbabu sent him to Darjeeling to support Tenzing’s family. “My father was with Tenzing during an unsuccessful attempt from the north side in 1952,” he said.
After serving nearly four months for Tenzing’s family, Kanchha was included as support staff in Tenzing’s team. He was paid eight rupees a day for carrying loads up the ice slopes. He remembers how 25 porters carried silver coins to Namche to pay allowances to the support staff and five police personnel were assigned to arrange security to the coin carriers.
“It was not an easy route. We fell 20 trees in Namche and brought them to Base Camp to make temporary ladders,” he said.
Kanchha said all their hard work bore fruit when on the historic day, 29 May 1953, only Tenzing and Hillary left for summit from South Col at around 4:00 a.m. “Only eight Sherpas could reach up to Camp 4. We were asked to return to C2 from C4 and around 12 noon the legendary mountaineers made it to the summit.”
Written by: Rajan Pokharel, May 28 (2014), The Himalayan Times Newspaper.