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The Sherpas of Everest Series: Nawang Gombu Sherpa


Copyright©Win Whittaker

 

Nawang Gombu is still alive at the time of this article. He is married and living in Darjeeling, India. He was born in 1936 in Minzu, Tibet. He is the business director of the Himalayan Mountain Institute established by Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. Few people know he was the son of Tenzing Norgay's oldest sister, Lhamu Kipa. Therefore, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa was his Uncle!

A very brief overview of his two summits of Everest are below...

1963: American Expedition with Norman Dyhrenfurth as leader and including A. Auten, Barry Bishop, Jake Breitenbach, J. Corbet, D. Dingman, D. Doody, R. Emerson, Tom Hornbein, Lute Jerstad, J. Lester, Willi Unsoeld, and Jim Whittaker. A huge expedition, costing almost $400,000 and supported by the National Geographic Society, over 900 porters carry 29 tons of food and equipment to the base of the mountain. Base Camp is established at the foot of the Khumbu Icefall on Mar 21 and the route through the icefall prepared soon after. Jake Breitenbach is killed by collapsing seracs in the Icefall but the expedition continues. The expedition splits into two parties - the West Ridgers and the South Collers.

First Assault: May 1 From Camp 6 at 27,450 feet (8370 meters) on the SE Ridge, Jim Whittaker and Nawang Gombu Sherpa reach the summit in strong winds at 1 PM. Whittaker becomes the first American to summit Everest.

1965: Third Indian Expedition, with Commander M.S Kohli as leader. On May 20, 1965 they succeed when A.S. Cheema and Sherpa Nawang Gombu ascend the SE Ridge. Gombu becomes the first person to summit Everest twice (the 11th and 17th summit). Out of the first seventeen summits of Everest, Nawang had two of them! Additional summits were achieved by Sonam Gyatso Sherpa, Sonam Wangyal, C.P. Vohra, Ang Kami Sherpa, H.P.S. Ahluwalia, H.C.S. Rawat, and Phu Dorje Sherpa.

Nawang Gombu Sherpa started his Everest career in 1960 as part of the India Expedition to Everest lead by Gyan Singh. Nawang Gombu reached a high point of 8625 meters on May 25th before turning back due to high winds.

Nawang Gombu Sherpa was also part of the 1982 American expedition that attempted Great Couloir of Everest lead by Lou Whittaker. The expedition was terminated when Marty Hoey died.

 
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