A Porter: From Nothing to Something
“I am gradually learning to become a challenge to the challenges of life and an obstacle to its obstacles because I am a character of that real-life story where life
for me is not something to be taken into granted, rather is a matter of sheer
Namaste, I am Nurbu Sherpa. I was born in eastern part of Nepal—Patle-9,
Okhaldhunga—28 years ago. With a family of four—mother, father, and a loving
sister, I had a wonderful childhood. But as they say, nothing is permanent, things
fade gradually with the ticking of time.
My mother used to say that mountains do not change its color but the scenic
beauty of Himalayas changes with every new season. True. With the change in the
seasons, my mother passed away one day and the incident transformed my family
My destiny was about to change its course to become a story of struggle when my
father married again. A human being is unaware of the forthcoming reality that is why
momentary illusions are necessary to add colors in life. I happily celebrated the
marriage ceremony of my parents.
Life is mysterious as none knows what it will reveal in the next moment. And this
is its best aspect, as per my experience. A strong incident capable of bringing
change in the course of one’s life at present will ultimately lead to a drastic
change of 180 degrees over the course of time. In my context, it took over a
For my father, the arrival of a new member in the family fulfilled the absence of a
wife. Good enough. But in an exchange with my father’s happiness, we—my sister and I
—paid a heavy price because she was finding it hard to accept us as her children.
Frequent brawls with the new mother gradually became a daily schedule of our life which had an impact on different spaces of my life and most importantly,
resulted with the end of my school life and triggered the beginning of porter life.
Employment is no big deal in the Khumbu (Everest) region if a person is physically fit.
Being a local of this region, getting a job of porter was not that hard for me. So, I
started my professional career as a porter at the age of 17.
Pursuing this career was one of the hardest decisions of my life because of the day I
moved to Everest Base Camp (EBC) with a load of 30 kgs on my back, my friends
were preparing for high school final year, grade 10.
Time flies. I still remember my first climb at Top Danda (Cannon Hill) near Namche
Bazaar. It was very difficult for a rookie like me. I do not regret while recollecting
those memories but anxiety engulfs me. What shall I say to my kids if they ask
about my education? I do not want to tell them that their father is a high school
Porter life is arduous. But why complain about being a porter when destiny has
already deceived. I reached EBC for the first time in a pair of slippers, a sweater, a
jacket without a fastener, and a beanie. I was fortunate to deceive death as I
walked the trail during early September. But the chill that I felt in Gorakshep, near
EBC, on that night, was something which I cannot express in words.
On the same trip, I cried a lot remembering my mother while climbing to
Tengboche from Phurkitenga. My thumb toe was hurt so bad it bled. But no one
was there to hug me. It was a cry in wilderness. To add to my woes, the group
leader scolded me for walking slowly as I limped my way to the destination,
Tengboche. Prior to all this, I never thought life would be so painful.
Despite that, there was only one thing that inspired me to continue the job. Yes,
money matters. The trip finally ended in Lukla where I received a total of
Rs.10,000. This was exciting because I had not seen the amount of money that big
in my entire life. It was big enough to make a fat bulge in my pocket from where I
didn’t remove my hand until I reached my village, Patle, in the next couple of days.
Money brings confidence in a person. I shared the story with my sister. She was
excited as well. I also asked her to continue her study which she had discontinued.
I ensured all required arrangements so that she could resume. My father also
approved the proposal as I was ready to finance her study expenses along with
livelihood contribution to home.
I continued the job for a few more years. Sister completed her high school. This
was the second happiest moment of my life since the death of my mother. The
first was when I received my wage—Rs.10,000—for the first time. Later, she got
married and now she is in Cypress with her husband.
My professional career was also growing gradually with the turn and change of the calendar. In 2014, I obtained trekking license and became a trek guide certified by
the government of Nepal.
In this period of more than four years (since I took the license), I have guided
more than 200 tourists to various popular trekking sites of this Himalayan nation,
especially EBC, Annapurna Base Camp, Langtang and so on.
Here I would like to extend thanks to all my guests. For me, they are my god and it
is their inspiration that encouraged me to open a trekking company. Yes, I am an
entrepreneur at present with a company called Northern Trekking Team.
“A strong incident capable of bringing change in the course of one’s life at present
will ultimately lead to a drastic change of 180 degrees over the course of time. In
my context, it took over a decade.”
Rising from nothing to something, the moment that I am living at present is a
matter of pride for me. And more than that, I am providing employment to two
youngsters on a permanent basis and six guides on seasonal basis.
Here, I would like to say thanks to all those who helped me in all possible ways to
get me on the seat of Director at Northern Trekking Team. And especially, I would
like to tell my late mother that the blood that the bloodshed on the way to
Tengboche over a decade back is now beautifully painting my life. But the only
thing to regret is your absence.