Chhongba Sherpa Director of KCC Nepal
Chhongba is in charge of KCC Nepal’s leadership team. Originally from Nunthala Village in Takshendu-4 of the Solukhumbu, Chhongba splits his time between Kathmandu, Phortse, Nepal, the United States, and Taksindu. Chhongba is one of the pioneers of Nepali trekking tourism. He met Edmund Hilary as a child since his father was the mayor of one of the villages where a Hillary School was built. Chhongba later requested from the Hillary Trust that the school expand, was responsible for building part of the school and clinic, and taught at the school as a teenager. Chhongba’s career in the trekking industry started when he became a porter at the age of 12 and then a climbing Sherpa ate age 17 (1974) on his first Everest expedition. On this first expedition, Chhongba saw 4 of his Sherpa friends and the team leader killed in an avalanche. At this point, Chhongba decided to avoid climbing Everest ever again. Instead, he worked as a farmer for 10 years and then began guiding clients on Cho Oyu, Gokyo, and Everest Base Camp. In 1990 he was part of the American Expedition to summit Mount Kanchenjunga, working as a mail runner. On this expedition, he met Exum Mountain Guide, the late George Gartner, who later sponsored Chhongba to come to America 14 times and guide university students in outdoor education trips. In 1992 his English skills and experience in the United States landed Chhongba a job with Adventure Consultants as a kitchen worker for their Everest expeditions. This position launched his 21-year career as Head Chef with the company, and he worked personally with Rob Hall and Gary Ball. Chhongba was also present for the 1996 disaster that claimed the lives of Rob Hall, Scott Fischer, and numerous Adventure Consultant clients. During this time Chhongba met author Jon Krakauer (Into Thing Air and Into the Wild) and the two men became close friends, with Chhongba helping John build a memorial in Nepal for the AC climbers who died in the 1996 disaster (only memorial in Nepal with a permit from the national park service). In 1997 Chhongba worked on an Everest expedition with the grandson of Tenzing Norgay and in 1998 he worked on an American Everest expedition with mountaineer Wally Berg (climbed with Scott Fischer). In 1999 Chhongba was promoted to working as a Sirdar for an Everest expedition with American Millennium Expeditions, where he worked under Peter Athans. Afterwards he began working with his brothers in their own trekking company called Travel High Solu and went on to found Nature Adventure Trekking and Expeditions, of which he is now chairman. Trekking aside, Chhongba’s true passion lies in helping the people of the Khumbu and Solukhumbu villages improve their lives. In this vein, he has worked for Tara Foundation USA since 1999 facilitating the programs that the foundation sponsors, like building bridges and sponsoring education for children. He also runs the Babu Chiri foundation in honor of mountaineer Babu Chiri, a Sherpa who summited Everest 10 times and died on the mountain in 2001. He is also now in the process of opening his own NGO. Chhongba has been involved with KCC since its inception and he founded the KCC Committee in 2004 for handling KCC affairs on the ground in Nepal. He believes KCC is important for introducing vocational mountaineering and climbing educating to Nepal, and to creating a culture of safety around trekking tourism. Chhongba is also especially passionate about involving numerous ethnic groups and tribes with KCC, beyond Sherpa communities, in an effort to promote unity and equality in the tourism industry.