Mingma Chhring does not know what year he was born in. The Sherpa culture places no importance on such things. Though he believes he was born on May 5, Birthdays are not celebrated. I would guess him to be in his early thirties, but the age-defying characteristics of his people make such an estimate at best approximate.
Born in Phortse, Nepal, Mingma grew up with 8 brothers and 1 sister. Two of his brothers died from disease as children, and one was killed while leading a climb on the notoriously dangerous Anna Purna. Mingma did not attend school until joining the Tengboche Monastery in 1996, where he studied to become a Monk. But at that time the Monastery did not receive donations from visitors to offset their expenses. So each student was required to pay $1,000 a year. After 5 years of study Mingma was no longer able to raise the tuition . He returned home to Phortse.
Mingma was then hired by International Mountain Guides as a load carrying Sherpa in 2001. Working mostly out of Tibet, he took part in expeditions on Everest, Ama Dablam, Manaslu, and Cho Oyu. Mingma worked hard to learn English and distinguished himself as tireless at high altitude. Attending the Khumbu Climbing School the following January, Mingma returned as a Guiding Sherpa in 2002 and summited Everest for the first time. With the exception of 2005, when he tried working as an Electrician in his home village of Phortse, Mingma has successfully led an IMG Everest client to the world’s highest summit each year for an incredible record of 10 out of 10 attempts.
Mingma likes Guiding but knows it is a dangerous job. He says his wife and two sons understand the risks he takes, but also realize this is the best way for him to make money for the family. His sons talk about following in his footsteps and becoming climbing Guides one day, but Mingma has forbid it. “This is a danger job,” he tells them, “and I want you to become a Doctor or Engineer.” He hopes they will go to America to start their careers. “They can be comfortable there, have a car and some money and same freedoms as here in Nepal,” he says. Mingma and his wife, who runs their small vegetable farm in Phortse, pay a yearly tuition of $1,500 U.S. for each boy to attend a boarding school in Kathmandu where they are learning English, Nepali, Tibetan, Math, History, and Science. The School is called Mount Kailash. It is difficult for Mingma and his wife to raise the funds for tuition each year and he has asked me to mention in this article that they would welcome any sponsorship the Readers of this blog might be willing to offer. You can contact the Mount Kailash school directly at http://www.nepalyp.com/company/31601/Mount_Kailash_School if you wish to do so.