In tribute to Urgyen Lendhup Sherpa
February 16, 1993, to January 21, 2021
Photo credit: Alex Tait NG 2019
“I am of the nature
to grow old.
there is no way to escape
I am of the nature
To have ill health.
There is no way to escape
I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.
All that is dear to me
and everyone I love is of the nature
There is no way to escape being
separated from them.
My actions are my only
I cannot escape the
consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground
on which I stand.” – Shakyamuni Buddha
It is with grieving hearts that we mourn the untimely and tragic death of Urgyen Lendhup Sherpa, who fell to his death while climbing an established technical ice route near his home village of Phortse, Solu Khumbu, Nepal. He is survived by his parents, brother, sister, and extended family. As a young man, Urken was a monk at nearby Tengboche Monastery and further afield in Darjeeling, India. Those formative years instilled a calm countenance that was seen in his humble character.
His brother, Tenzing Gyaltzen Sherpa of KCC wrote, “It has been a heart breaking moment to face this unfortunate loss of my dear brother. He was a good mentor and a loyal person. He developed his passion for mountaineering at his early age, dedicated his life to climbing, influenced many others, and left us too soon.”
Photo by Tenzing Gyaltzen Sherpa
We knew Urgyen as a brother, son, friend, and climbing companion. He was skilled and driven, but of a warm-hearted nature, which frequently concealed his passion for climbing. He was greatly respected among his Nepali peers who have transitioned to appreciate a passion for mountaineering and climbing not seen in the previous generation’s ethos of climbing strictly for employment and financial gain.
Luza Peak team, Pemba, Urken and Lhakpa
Urgyen was a dedicated leader and strong technical climber in the Khumbu region of Nepal, completing five successful ascents of Mt. Everest. He was a key support member on a successful Lhotse expedition to ascend and safely ski the world’s fourth-highest peak. Last Autumn, Urken completed an all-Sherpa first ascent of 5,725m Luza Peak in the Khumbu region of Nepal alongside partners Pemba Sharwa Sherpa and Lakpa Gyaljen Sherpa—an expedition that made national headlines.
In 2019, Urgyen supported The National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet expedition to Nepal, one of the largest initiatives of scientific inquiry on Mount Everest, with emphasis on climatology. The National Geographic Scientific team compiled the following statement.
“One of the most unforgettable Sherpa on our 2019 National Geographic Everest Expedition, Urken was instrumental in the installation of the world’s highest weather station network. He had an infectious, positive can-do attitude that was inspiring and uplifting to be around. Urken also learned very quickly, soon becoming an expert in the assembly of the stations as he worked tirelessly to ensure that we were successful. He was also instrumental in our team’s safe return, voicing considerable concern about the long lines of climbers impeding progress ahead of us, and advocating for stopping at the balcony rather than continuing to the summit. Urken’s efforts were immense during the installation of our highest station. He waited patiently for batteries to warm sufficiently to power the drill at the balcony site, then worked methodically and persistently to drill the holes in bedrock. Urken carries the honor of making that installation possible and his name will forever be associated with the making of scientific history on Mt Everest. To those of us who were privileged enough to know him, he will be remembered for so much more. – Baker Perry and Tom Mathews- National Geographic Scientists
Urgyen was instrumental in the installation of all five weather stations that were placed during the 2019 Everest expedition, including at the South Col and Balcony–the two highest in the world. He spearheaded efforts to secure the two highest weather stations to bedrock and was invaluable in the safe return of all the expedition team members.
– Pete Athans- 2019 Climbing Leader
Our empathy and deepest compassion go to his family, friends, and the village of Phortse. Urgyen’s absence is poignantly felt by everyone he knew. While somber with the knowledge of his death, we are blessed with our memories of Urgyen.
“Never forget how swiftly this life will be over. Like a flash of summer lightning or the wave of a hand.” – Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche