The term Sherpa refers a Nepalese ethnic group in the Himalayan Mountains. Over the years, this term has adapted a lower-case-first-letter version to describe a guide or porter hired for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas. Although these men are not necessarily members of the Sherpa ethnic group, they are all renowned for their strength and experience at high altitudes. Of the most famous is Tenzing Norgay, a Nepalese porter who stood beside Sir Edmund Hillary as the first men to summit Mount Everest in 1953. Since that great day, two sherpas have excelled within the community. The first is Apa Sherpa, famous for holding the Guinness World Record for 16 summits of Mount Everest. The other is Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa, who holds the Everest speed-ascent record at 10 hours, 56 minutes, 46 seconds.
Apa Sherpa and Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa serve in a more guide-like role commanding higher pay and respect from the community due to their high-altitude achievements. A group of climbers and scientists organized funding for a research documentary this spring on the superior performances of the sherpas. The film will follow an all-sherpa team to the summit of Mount Everest. These six-members share 50 Mount Everest summits between the group. First, the sherpas will undergo a series of physiological tests in a U.S. laboratory to determine what enables these men to out-perform others in such extreme conditions. Next, the film will move to Everest base camp before the team begins their expedition.
Throughout the film, the climbers will be monitored using state-of-the art body mapping to track heart rate, lung capacity and other essential functions. In addition to providing physiological insight, this film will educate others on a previously untold story of the under-appreciated Sherpa people who have played a crucial role in every successful attempt on Everest.
(Photo provided by Gettyimages / Photographer <span id="ctlInfo_ImageDetails">Devendra Man Singh/Stringer)