World-renowned Mount Everest guide returns to Richland
Posted August 1
Richland, WA — Mount Everest guide Ang Dorjee Sherpa, 44, has been climbing all his life, all over the world.
He said climbing to the 8,848 meter peak of Mount Everest feels normal.
He is third in the world for the most visits to the top with 19 summit climbs since 1992. He has guided travelers on 24 expeditions, but had to turn around five times because of weather and medical issues with his clients.
"You have to turn around if theres something going wrong. You can't push your body in that altitude. Every one step takes like three or four minutes," said Dorjee.
He said each trip takes about 75 days to complete. It takes about 2 and a half months to get to the peak in good weather.
"You go between camp one and camp two, go up and down, up and down until your body is used to the altitude. And then you move to another camp," explained Dorjee.
The climb is extremely dangerous. More than 290 people have died attempting the climb, including 6 people in 2017.
On his last climb in May, Dorjee saw one person freeze to death and another person pass out and later die.
"You use all your energy on the way up there. That's why a lot of people get in an accident on the way down," he said.
Dorjee is originally from a town at 14,000 feet in Nepal.
He lived in Richland from 2003-2014. He is back in the Tri-Cities to visit friends and work to repair wind turbine generators at Evans Enterprises in Kennewick.
In March of 2018 Dorjee will head back up Mount Everest to guide another traveler.
"It's risky, you're away from your kids... but when I, where I grew up it's a small town and if I go back there I can hire a lot of local people. They get the job," said Dorjee.
He said getting jobs for the people of his hometown to set up camp, cook and carry loads for hikers is worth the dangerous risk. But he is always on his toes.
"You can't just go there walking like here at Tri-Cities Badger Mountain. It's not like that," he said. "You never know what is coming - weather or you can get sick."
Climbers take years to train for the climb, but to Dorjee it comes naturally. To get in shape, he rides his bike around Richland.
He said each trip is unique. The snow is constantly melting and moving, making some routes more technical than others. He said the great people he meets keep his coming back.
"Every single time you're not taking the same person. It's a different person and then you learn so many different things," he said.
Part of his story from a big storm in 1996 is included in the 2015 film Everest.