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Sherpas and Yuppies.
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(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 02/08/2012 17:00:24 MST Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 06/15/2015 15:22:27 MDT.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Thoughts on 02/08/2012 17:11:38 MST Print View

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. :)

The people on Killy have to pay a porter, the porters make some money and the local economy gets a boost. Some rich people get a nice photo for their office.

Doesn't really have a major affect on my life and it is not something I generally ponder.

Meanwhile, I am still skiing, hiking, backpacking, loving life and finding the perfect stout during Stout Month at Southern Sun in my neck of the woods.


Edited by PaulMags on 02/08/2012 17:15:49 MST.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Sherpas and Yuppies. on 02/08/2012 17:31:33 MST Print View

My thoughts: I understand and agree with what you're saying about posing as a big adventurer, when the porters/sherpas/etc. do most of the hard work. But I don't think there's anything inherently bad in the idea of hiring them, as long as you don't give yourself credit for doing something on the backs of others; you should understand that being a sherpa (job description as opposed to ethnic background, both are valid meanings in Nepal), cook, or porter is a relatively high paying job in many areas where they exist, which provides livelihood to a lot of people (and their families) who otherwise would be toiling away at a less lucrative profession. It's not a lot of money to us, and gives something back to the people whose land we're tromping through as tourists. This is something I never thought of before I trekked in Nepal many eons ago (and no, I did not look upon myself as a big adventurer but as a tourist who needed help to visit the areas we went to).

So there is another side to the picture. One can look at use of porters as a sign of not being macho enough, or one can look at it as giving back to the local economy via a service provided by skilled people to those that can use it. Of course that means that the porters etc. should be respected and compensated fairly for their work. (The small company that organized our trek financed building and upkeep for a school in the porters' home town, in addition to the wages and tips paid for the trips and paying for medical care for the porters and their families.)

I would hope (and expect) that the compensation for staff that go on more adventurous (i.e. risky) expeditions is commensurately higher than for more easy, touristy destinations.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Sherpas and Yuppies. on 02/08/2012 17:47:24 MST Print View

Not everyone can be Reinhold Messner and climb 8,000m peaks in flip-flops without O2 and repel using their own nose hairs. Paying someone to carry my stuff isn't my cup of tea, but it beats playing polo or having a caddy carry your clubs, IMO.

Sure, the cultures get a squewed view of each other - climbers aren't the average Westerner and the Sherpas aren't the average Nepali. But at least there is SOME cultural exchange going on. And when my wife was there and my cousin was doing Peace Corps-type work, they carried their own stuff and met more typical local people.

Hunting trips are even more supported - 10:1 for an African hunt between the guide, two trackers, 4 porters, and a camp staff. Just so some German or Texan can hang a mount on the wall that has horns 2 cm wider than his buddy's mount. On the other hand, my framing contractor got all the Alaskan critters on foot over the years with a rifle, packing them all out himself (moose are big, sheep and goats are high up the mountain). Then he went back and got one of each with a bow.

Hike your own hike
Trek your own trek
Climb your own mountain
Hunt your own hunt (but please eat all your food after you've played with it).

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Sherpas and Yuppies. on 02/08/2012 18:56:39 MST Print View

Definitely a HYOH topic.

Having just come back from a trip to southeast Asia... I haven't noticed any locals feeling offended by flashy western backpackers. It's not so much the "image" given when people dress (or over dress) the part. Locals seem fine with that. What can be obnoxious, however, is inappropriate individual behavior -- such as talking down to locals, or expecting local customs / sensibilities to be the same as back home.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Sherpas and Yuppies. on 02/08/2012 19:51:00 MST Print View

>What can be obnoxious, however, is inappropriate individual behavior -- such as talking down to locals, or expecting local customs / sensibilities to be the same as back home.

This is a biggie. Looking different is usually fine, but expecting the world to cater to you and not respecting the fact that YOU are the foreigner/minority/traveler/guest really hits a hot button. Being overly loud and obnoxious doesn't help either.

People, regardless of the language they speak, can pick up on an individual's air and they'll take their cues and form their opinions upon that. Being mindful and respectful of where you are and who you're among goes a LONG way in being received well in foreign places.

Isolated incidents aside, people will treat you as you treat them. Doesn't matter the nationality.

(As an aside, I'm of the opinion that every financially person living in a first world nation should visit a second or third world country and see the "real" country. No fancy resorts. Visit the countryside. Doing that in Romania taught me so much its hard to explain).

Edited by T.L. on 02/08/2012 19:54:53 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Sherpas and Yuppies. on 02/08/2012 20:15:39 MST Print View

"Ok, we get it, they are poor, you are rich, so stop pretending you conquered the mountain and get a helicopter to drop you off 10 yards from the summit, so you can walk 5 mins and flash the famous "mission accomplished" banner with a summit photo op."


Another way to look at it that might lower your blood pressure a few points is that, at the end of the day, the locals are a little richer and the tourons are a little(or a lot) poorer. The tourons get their little moment in the sun along with a few pictures to hang on the wall, and the locals laugh all the way to the bank. In fact, the Sherpas have done very well carting the yupps up into the Himalayas. Look at all the hotels and new houses up in the Khumbu, and many are finally able to afford decent medical care and send their kids to decent schools so they won't have to put up with the same cr^p their parents did.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
In Any Case... on 02/08/2012 20:39:09 MST Print View

Backpacks are for sissies...

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Sherpas and Yuppies vs. Strawberry Pickers and Me on 02/08/2012 20:56:09 MST Print View

I love a good strawberry. I also catch myself whining when strawberry prices rise. So what if it's the dead of winter? I want a strawberry, even if it has to come from halfway around the world. I deserve it.

And then I daydream about about the men, women, and children the world over that stoop over crops under a 110 degree sun, breathing pesticides, ruining backs, and blistering their feet and fingers. Day-in, day-out. Living in shacks, getting bused in from slums, put up in temporary housing away from I can get my strawberries.

"I roll my eyes at this stuff and think of wussie offensive derogatory slang."

So who toils away so you can get your kicks?

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: In Any Case... on 02/08/2012 22:03:40 MST Print View

There goes Ben, showing off again. Just because you can carry a 500 liter pack without load lifters doesn't make you better than us.


Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Machu Picchu on 02/08/2012 22:29:07 MST Print View

When we hiked the Inka trail in Peru, we were required to hire a local guide and one porter for each hiker in our group. It was the only way you could get a permit, and without a permit you were not allowed to pass through any of the checkpoints. We weren't wild about the idea, but rules are rules and we did want to do the hike.

No horses, mules or llamas are allowed on the trails, and none are for rent. All of this so that the locals are provided employment by the many tourists who come to the area. Otherwise, the locals would sit in their houses and resent the fact that some of the tourons were spending thousands of dollars to fly around the world to hike their hike to the local attactions, and the locals weren't seeing a dime of the revenue.

We did the hike exactly as we were instructed, and had a wonderful time. The porters were smart, fun, and unbelieveably strong. They carried the tents and kitchen, and we paid them the going rate and a nice tip.

We carried our personal gear.

If you don't like the system, don't go to Peru. Don't look at our photos. They are on our website, here:

But we'd go back there in a heart beat and do another hike with those folks, and the Andes are everything you could ask for and more.

Edited by balzaccom on 02/08/2012 22:35:49 MST.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Sherpas and Yuppies. on 02/08/2012 22:45:27 MST Print View

my thoughts?

You just sound bitter.

I should know I sound bitter plenty. Ask around.

I like strawberries too.

We have pick your own fields here if you want to try it for yourselves.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: In Any Case... on 02/08/2012 23:04:01 MST Print View

"There goes Ben, showing off again. Just because you can carry a 500 liter pack without load lifters doesn't make you better than us.


Haha... I wish I could!! :)

a b
Right or Wrong on 02/08/2012 23:10:48 MST Print View

Everything we do is bad for somebody.
What is the answer?
Should i have my truck crushed, stop eating any type of food i don't pick or catch myself, forsake all forms of currency, climb into a carboard box and hide myself from the world in order to "do no harm"?
All politics is "winning" over someone else.
Does that mean we should abandon all politics?
Do we embrace the world with it's failings and try to do better or ignore them?
I think this is a balancing act we all must attempt with varying degrees of success or failure.
Must admit that knowing what is right or wrong and who is hurt near or afar by my actions bothers me a lot, but I cannot always see clealry what those things are.
This does not excuse my complicity in the atrocities commited in my name (USA, White, Male etc)
Aside from playing the game as decently as possible; voting, paying taxes, obeying laws, being kind to my neibor, giving charity.. aside from those things what can I do?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Sherpas and Yuppies. on 02/09/2012 01:42:36 MST Print View

"your thoughts?"

I have never given it any thought. Whatever someone wants to do with their money is their business.

Last year I researched hiking Kilimanjaro (the wife nixed that idea). I wanted to just hike it with a friend, but like the Peru trip mentioned earlier, you are not allowed to do it alone. You must go with a licensed guide and all the other regulations.

And whatever means someone uses to get to the top of a 25,000' or higher peak, I am impressed. I could not do it.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
My style.. on 02/09/2012 07:24:05 MST Print View

If I had the money to go on these adventure vacations, summiting far away peaks in cool places with Sherpa/porter support I would. I would echo what others have said in that it adds to the economy and those people probably lined up for the job. I would also likely be wearing all the best yuppy gear/brands on the trek.

The only thing I would do differently is that my framed picture would be me with my arms around the sherpas, all of us together in the photo, no thumbs up but a arm around the people that worked so hard for me.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
Sherpas on 02/09/2012 09:53:45 MST Print View

I totally agree with Roger Dodger the Sherpas are the unsung heroes of Mt Everest. But like every sport the one with the most money backing and PR service get the credit. Their are lots of ordinary people do extraordinary things with out no press or reconnection what so ever in life.

It would be nice if Outside and Backpacker would do article and interviews on the sherpas and their Mt Everest accomplishments they have done for money or for fun. To see what makes these people tick and give them the accolades they deserve.

The way I see it is if you can't accomplish a individual sport challenge on your own power/training and planing with no support team and using equipment designed for that sport it not worth bragging about it.

Edited by socal-nomad on 02/09/2012 09:55:12 MST.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Sherpas on 02/09/2012 17:51:11 MST Print View

>"The way I see it is if you can't accomplish a individual sport challenge on your own power/training and planing with no support team and using equipment designed for that sport it not worth bragging about it."

Terry: Agreed.

I'd like all Olympic sports to be conducted during a power failure. GS? Sure - get your butt and your gear up the mountain (with X-C, snowshoes, cleats) and then GS down. All on the clock*. I'm impressed by human-powered sports. Sliding down a mountain you didn't climb? Not so much.

I know beach volleyball is there for the T&A. But I respect it more as an athletic event than Equestrian or Alpine events.

*I loved that the Alpine and Nordic instructors would race at Badger Pass. Start at the bottom and Alpine skiers ride the lift but the Nordic guys would get to the top faster on foot and then it would be neck and neck at the bottom.

Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Re: Re: Sherpas on 02/09/2012 19:40:15 MST Print View

I dunno, I respect the downhill alpine guys and girls a fair bit. Some of that, like Moguls is physically brutal, they have legs of steel, its not just a case of sliding down. Climb up the mountain first? Thats not the point. Do you expect all the athletes at the Olympics to run or cycle their way there? Should the Marathoners run from the hotel to the start line, then back at the end of the day from the finish? Lance Armstrong flew around the world to his events, pfft, what a softy!

Equestrian I can see your point, but its also a physical sport, just on another level. Take a look on youtube of some highlights clips of the Australian Team Event performance at the Atlanta olympics to win gold. F*cking hardarse. Gillian Rolton nursed a broken collarbone through it, and I think from memory one of the men in the team nursed injuries through the event to win the gold, broken ribs and such that wouldn't have been fun doing the jumps on the last day. And it takes years and years of dedication and training to get to that level in the sport. Sure, there are sometimes animal cruelty issues, and I can't stand horse racing myself (mainly due to the relation of it with crazy levels of gambling in Australia) but no doubt the best of them love their horses as much as their kids and treat them really well, and the horses love their riders too and love doing their best for them.

If you think all downhill sports are lame, check out Danny Hart's world champs winning ride recently. The final comment of the commentator sums up it all:

As to people claiming credit like they are Reinhold when they used a team of Sherpa's, yeah, pretty lame. As to using Sherpa's, as long as they are treated well I think its a great thing.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Sherpas on 02/09/2012 20:35:42 MST Print View

Adam: I readily admit that if I tried Olympic-level GS, ski jump, or horsey riding, I'd die in the attempt. There is tremendous skill and reasonable athletism in all those endeavors. But they'd probably explode, electrocute or poison themselves if they attempted my day job, so I don't equate potential lethality to being the purest sports pursuits possible.

For me, just for me, I prefer those sports that are completely human-powered. Obviously I'm not on the IOC.

>"Do you expect all the athletes at the Olympics to run or cycle their way there?"

From their dorm to the finish line? At least walking? Yeah, I'd prefer it. Even golfer have to walk the course. GOLFERS!

The modern Olympics gets so much prestige from the supposed 2500+ year history of the spectacle. That's cool. But I'd like them to limit themselves to more timeless sports that Pheidippides could have reasonably attempted.