The world of mountaineering would not be possible without the Sherpas. That’s something I’ve always said. They are a key element of this sport that I respect and love so much. They know the mountain; they will be there to save your life and give you the best advice. That is why I would like you to hear what one of them has to say. This is Chhepal Sherpa. A great colleague on the mountain and a great friend. Here are his thoughts.

Chhepal, how come you are here this winter?

First of all, I´m a climber and fortunately these last 5 years I´ve been on winter ascents: Everest twice, K2, Amadablan and Manaslu last year. This year, I’m here with my team: Tenjin Sherpa, Pasang Norbu Sherpa, Gyalu Sherpa, Thinduk Sherpa and, if we need some help, we also have Pemaba Tashi, our cook, who can also cooperate with us on the mountain.


How many teams will be on the Manaslu?

We are professional climbers. This year we are going to try Manaslu in winter.

Last year, Pasang Norbu refused to go with you (Alex) because he really wanted to climb K2 in winter. Fortunately for us, we have got private financial support for seven summits, which also helps us.

As you have seen lately in the media, Gelje Sherpa is organising a winter attempt on Cho Oyu with Nepali climbers, who are very strong. Last winter, Pasang Norbu went nonstop from the base camp to C4, and also nonstop to the summit of Dhaulagiri. There is also a team of Nepali climbers who want to reach the real summit of Manaslu and we are really motivated about that.

So Chhepal, how many teams are there on the mountain?

More than one. My team will work together with your team, Alex (Txikon, Iñaki Alvarez and Simone Moro), plus sherpa Pasang Rinji. Then, there is an international team with Paula Birgitta, and Mingma Sherpa. Then, Sofie Lenaerts and her husband Steven Maginelle plus Dawa Sherpa team and, finally, Oswaldo Pereira´s team.

But how are we going to organise it all? On the one hand, we are a climbing expedition, on the one hand, there is a commercial expedition?

Alex, we are winter climbers thanks to you. My first winter experiences were with you. We started in winter because of you. Gelje Sherpa or Gesman Tamang or others took their first steps in winter with you. You always make a team. I have learned to create a strong team in the mountain. For sure we will cooperate with your team.  Oswaldo is also a very good man, and he is always ready to help. The rest are in the same base camp.

Your second question, the commercial expedition: Sofie’s or Paula’s sherpas are there to assist them all the time. It will be a commercial venture but if they work all the time like us or the rest of the team, it will not be commercial.

About commercial expeditions; in my experience, many people come to Nepal with many sponsors usually in the spring and autumn and wait at the base camp until we Nepalese do the work of placing the ropes above 8,000 metres. In the meantime, they do nothing but post pictures and information on their social media profiles, hiding the reality.

But Alex, I am very confident and convinced that everyone will cooperate.

¿What did you learn from last year on Manaslu?

Last year we were a strong team. This year, I think we will be stronger because more climbers are coming, but let’s see what will happen. Last year I saw you, like always, work very hard. Iñaki also worked very well in the second part of the expedition. Simone has a fast style going up and down, and he works well too at lower altitudes.

Sorry, what route would you like to take?

I prefer the normal route, because we will have less work than last year.

Last year, I also learned to focus on the right moments, on saving energy and being patient as I always am.

I would like to add that the base camp will soon be established by the porters and our cooking staff, but with your (Alex Txikon) and Nati’s brains. You managed to get everything to Samagaon. You managed to move up local porters because you gave everyone headlamps. I´m so happy to be with you again.

How do you feel Chhepal?

Now, at my age, I’m 38, and after climbing a lot, I feel really good, with enough experience for this new challenge.

Thank you very much, Chhepal.

Thanks to you too, and I’m excited to work on the mountain with your team. Let’s enjoy the next few weeks.