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High-Altitude Education

Khumbu Climbing Center raising funds to finish school in Nepal

Photo courtesy of the Khumbu Climbing Center. Photo courtesy of the Khumbu Climbing Center.

By: Elizabeth Miller

Permitted use provided by: Boulder Weekly

The story of climbers at Everest wanting to give back to the people living in the Himalayan foothills of the world’s tallest peak is as old as the stories of climbers visiting the top of Everest itself. Since Sir Edmund Hillary’s insistence for decades that he had reached the summit simultaneously with Tenzing Norgay, his Sherpa companion — tying a native with a New Zealander for being the first on the roof of the world — and going on to campaign for schools and health clinics throughout Nepal, climbers who visit that region have tried to give back to the people who call it home.

It was in that spirit that 10 years ago Conrad Anker and Jenni Lowe-Anker created the Khumbu Climbing Center to educate Sherpas in mountaineering skills that could save their lives as they try to make a living guiding Westerners up the world’s boldest summits.

“Most of the fatalities that happen to Westerners are exhaustion and related to the participant not having the strength to pull that off, and they just sort of expire slowly. But the Sherpa deaths are more related to making mistakes,” Anker says. “These are accidents that shouldn’t happen because it’s not, it’s preventable, you can make sure that you have the right equipment and that you’re properly protected. So taking that risk out is probably one of the key things we want to do.”

Since their first class in 2004, they’ve taught more than 700 students the basic skills of mountain travel, including inspecting equipment, tying knots, belaying, rope management and wilderness first aid. Over the years, their curriculum has added material centered on customer experience like English lessons and knowledge of local flora and fauna to enrich the client’s experience when they hire a guide who has graduated from the KCC.

On April 20, they’re hosting a gathering at Movement Climbing to fundraise for the latest step in expanding the programs available to Sherpas in Nepal — building a community center that will house their class each January and be available as a gathering place and training ground over the rest of the year.


Read the rest of the story at Boulder Weekly

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