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A trek of rediscovery in the Himalayas

On a trek to Everest Base Camp, I became reacquainted with Tsampa, the staple grain of the Himalayan people. Growing up in a Tibetan-American family, I had Tsampa as part of ceremony or on holidays, but never on a consistent basis since it was largely unavailable in North America.

But in the Himalayas where Tsampa is plentiful, I found that eating a bowl of Tsampa invigorated and energized me. As an engineer who loves to cook—and eat—I started wondering why it wasn’t available elsewhere. That “Aha” moment at 14,000 feet laid the foundation for Peak Sherpa.

   

Why Peak Sherpa? Who are Sherpas anyway?

Sherpas are a tribe of people native to the Solukhumbu region of Nepal—an area well known for its proximity to Mount Everest. Best known amongst Sherpas is Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, who along with Sir Edmund Hillary first climbed Everest in 1953 (pictured left above on the summit of Mt. Everest).

With centuries of altitude acclimatization and adapted genetics, Sherpas are uniquely well-suited as the primary mountaineering workforce in the Himalayas. However, Sherpa mountain guides have long been subjected to lower pay, disproportionately high-risk working conditions, and an inadequate "safety net". Just in the last five years, 25 Sherpas have died tragically on Everest. Yes, hazards exist in mountaineering, but due to government inaction and a lack of adequate labor standards, the amount of risk workers face on the mountain is needlessly high. The most elite mountaineers on earth are being treated as replaceable cogs in a machine.

I felt a need to support organizations working to improve management and labor conditions on Everest, and to help the Sherpa people write a new narrative: one where the world properly recognizes Sherpa guides as elite, high-altitude mountain athletes, both in stature and compensation. Our name, Peak Sherpa, is deeply rooted in this mission.

 

Certified B Corp 

As a Certified B Corp, we are committed to social and environmental stewardship, both locally and abroad. Our primary mission is to provide meaningful support to families of fallen Sherpas and to improve conditions for guides working in the Himalayas. We do this by donating 2% of our revenue each year to nonprofits like The Juniper Fund and The American Himalayan Foundation.

Certified B Corporations are required to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency to use business as a force for good.

 

Photo of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa courtesy of the Royal Geographical Society