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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Trekking with Jamling

Jamling Tenzing & Steve Conlon back dropped by Kangchenjunga

Over the past 40 years I've had the privilege of sharing a Himalayan trail with many a fine trekmate, and some of the best guides and group leaders, both local and foreign. One of the standouts in that elite grouping is Jamling Tenzing Norgay, son of Everest pioneer Tenzing Norgay and an Everest summiteer in his own right.

Anyone who has been trekking in Nepal over the past several decades has certainly noticed that the number of Sherpa guides has dwindled to a mere handful. Most Sherpas now consider guiding treks beneath them, and have either moved on to "bigger things" or simply moved on, physically and permanently, to America, Australia, or Europe.

Despite his university education in the US, his successful ascent of Everest in 1996 which was documented in the highly acclaimed IMAX film, a lucrative public speaking career, and his high profile family background, Jamling has remained true to his roots and still enjoys leading trek groups throughout the Himalaya, but especially in his "backyard" of Sikkim.

On a trek to the recently opened Zemu Valley in far northern Sikkim, Jamling showed me why the Sherpas established the benchmark for successful guiding many years ago. As our small group wound its way up the valley toward the eastern foot of Kangchenjunga, at 28,169' the world's third tallest peak, I got to observe a master of the trade. He dealt with our mutual clients in a manner that was both personal and professional. He dealt with the staff and porters in a way that was almost fatherly, showing empathy, but making it very clear who was in charge.

In the dining tent, he surprised me by serving each dinner plate personally, and taking charge of collecting the dishes after dinner. Most guides (and so-called guides) today leave those menial jobs to the cook staff, preferring to act like one of the clients. After dinner, the group had lots of questions about both his and his father's lives and climbing exploits. Despite having been asked those questions countless times before, he patiently answered each question in detail, as though it were the first time he was telling the story to close friends. Patience, humility, service, and hard work were the trademarks that made the Sherpas proud to be who they are. Jamling still possesses those qualities, in spades. And more than that, he's just a great guy to share a Himalayan trail with. Our early November trek with him to Kangchenjunga is full, but there are still spaces available for the November 14 to 30 departure if you'd like to experience trekking with Jamling for yourself. Give us a call!


~Steve Conlon
Above the Clouds

Sunrise on the East Face of Siniolchu
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View of Siniolchu and Simvo from the trail

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