Why the Himalaya, and why in particular Nepal? Nepal is among the poorest countries in the world and currently ranks 157th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index. It is also home to eight of the world’s magnificent 8,000m peaks, including Everest.
It is in the heart of the Nepalese Himalaya that our story began. In 1953, Mount Everest was first climbed by Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, on a British expedition led by Colonel John Hunt. It is recognised that this would have been impossible without the support of the Sherpas.
Two years on, the third highest mountain in the world, Kangchenjunga, also in Nepal, was climbed by George Band and Joe Brown, again a first ascent, and again made possible by the tough, courageous mountain people of Nepal.
Mountaineers of this golden age of Himalayan climbing have always recognised the integral part the local people of Nepal have played in the success of their expeditions and the history of mountaineering in this country, and held them in high regard and with great affection. They have also recognised that many come from a background of abject poverty.
It was Edmund Hillary and his companion George Lowe who first felt a compulsion to give something back to the Sherpas who had so enriched their lives. Then George Band and his wife Susan.
Today, as in the past decades, the mountain people of Nepal continue to support climbers and trekkers in the Himalayas, and the need and desire to give something back, through the Himalayan Trust UK, is still very much alive and kicking.