Nepal, Land of Adventure and Discovery
Published: December 17, 2017
Two Nepali adventurers who were very much in the international limelight in 2012 were Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa. That was the year when these two intrepid buccaneers were chosen as the 2012 People’s Choice Adventurers of the Year through a public poll conducted by no less an authoritative body than National Geographic magazine. What had Sunuwar and Sherpa done that deserved such a high accolade? Well, according to National Geographic, the two were so honored because of the audacity displayed during the duo’s Ultimate Descent Expedition, an expedition that involved climbing the highest mountain on earth, Everest, then paragliding down from the peak, and finally, paddling down to the sea. The renowned magazine concluded that the feat “truly embodies the spirit of adventure. With borrowed gear and a bare-bones budget, there were no corporate sponsors nor social media campaigns, just the essentials for adventure—vision, creativity, and friendship.” For the record, the daring duo summitted Everest (29,035 ft) on May 21, 2013, and while it was a very special occasion for Sunuwar, it being his first ascent, for Sherpa, it was more of an ‘all in a day’s work’ kind of thing, this being his fourth summit. On that same day, they set a world record of sorts by achieving the highest free flight ever at 29,084 ft when launching their paragliding attempt from the top. This having gone down in the books, the pair then paraglided down 16,400 ft below, taking a cool 45 minutes to do so. Their landing was at the Syangboche airstrip, which is some 1,000 ft above Namche Bazaar. Having had a safe landing, they then proceeded to kayak over the rushing torrents of the Sun Kosi River and then paddled their way to the Ganges River. Eventually, on June 27, Sunuwar and Sherpa finally made it to Ganga Sagar in the Bay of Bengal, a meeting point of the river with the sea. The Ultimate Descent indeed lived up to its name—from the highest point on earth to sea level. In achieving this one-of-a-kind feat, Sunuwar and Sherpa also succeeded in focusing the world’s attention on Nepal tourism and on the fact that it is a country that is ripe for adventure and discovery. Adventure tourism is the name of the game; and there are plenty of facts to support the claim. Climbing, of course, tops the list, and it’s true that no climber worth his salt can claim to be a real climber without climbing the Nepali Himalayan peaks. For one thing, Mount Everest is the ultimate challenge, and for another, eight of the world’s fourteen eight-thousanders are here as well. Now, with the introduction of the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT), the world’s longest and highest trekking route, no trekker can say that he/she has done it all without attempting all or part of this epic trail. As it is, the Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit treks have always been acknowledged as two of the most popular treks in the world, with the former having been featured in a “must-to-be-done things during a lifetime” list compiled by those in the know.