February 2, 2021/Kathmandu-
You are well known mountaineer, when did you start climbing and how did you get inspired?
-I first climbed Mera Peak and Island peak when I was only 14. After making a summit to those peaks, the concept of climbing mountains and its adventures enthralled me to continue further.
I was born in Solukhumbu, in a very remote village named Chaurikharka which now falls in Pasang Lhamu rural municipality, near Lukla, the gate to the Mt. Everest. There were no other options for livelihood other than going to the mountains. My father and other people from my locality were working as porters and guides for mountaineers or they would regularly go to climb mountains. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by female tourists enjoying their life. I found them different; tall, fair skinned with good dress ups and carried huge trekking bags. I was so eager to explore their countries to know more about their place and lifestyles. These sorts of things really motivated me to work hard and now I am living my dreams.
Since you are the first Nepali to ski in Mt Blanc of France, also skiing being your favourite game, do you think skiing could be done in Nepal as well?
-In foreign countries,skiing is enjoyed by all aged people. In Nepal, we have recently started to introduce skiing through Nepal mountain academy. Our neighbouring countries China and India have already introduced skiing in their favourable regions. Whereas Nepal has not yet actively introduced it. We can do skiing seasonally in himalayan regions, which could attract a large number of tourists. In European countries, a lot of people enjoy this game. It is somewhat difficult to learn it initially but once you get used to it, it’s really an interesting game.
How has COVID-19 pandemic affected the tourism sector of Nepal?
-Pandemic has affected almost every sector across the world, where tourism is not an exception. However, this pandemic has helped us realise the importance of tourism in the country like Nepal. As Nepal prepared for Tourism year 2020 and was expecting an enormous influx of tourists but due to pandemic, the opposite happened. Hotels and shops are at loss. However, our mountains got some time to rest and rejuvenate themselves. Now our wish is to recover and revive as soon as possible by providing vaccines to the frontline workers and people working in the industry in hotels, trekking routes and other tourism activities.
What should the Government do in this regard in the present situation?
-Well, it is very sad situation for Nepal too. We people having a position in the society and a house in Kathmandu have been facing problem. Then I think about those people who survive by working in hotels, trekking and other places of the tourism sector. Most of them have zero income now. I see many people in the street, who are in depression. They walk along talking to themselves. Situations are really bad. In abroad countries, the government takes up the responsibilities. They receive the compensation and some amount for their livelihood. In Nepal it is a different case. But it is the responsibility of the State to take decisions for the people or it’s citizens. The Government of Nepal instead of wasting the amount in election should invest the budget in the welfare and relief task for the tourism workers who are in great agony. The budget should be used properly for their welfare.
And how is your experience being a woman mountaineer?
-For women, it is some what challenging because it can be unsafe during the night time. Nowadays, the technology has made communication easier ensuring safety but back in the day, it was really difficult, communicating to kathmandu from base camp was troublesome. We couldn’t easily communicate with our children at home. Women had to carry a lot of risks back then. In Comparison to men, women face more difficulties and challenges but once you face those challenges, you get introduced to lots of fascinating things like learning different cultures from foreigners etc.
What have you done in the direction of women empowerment?
-I have been always cautious about making the women strong and independent. 7 years back through the Nepal Mountain Academy, we have been giving training to women in different lots for mountaineering and trekking. They get certificates for the same after the completion of the training. Around 500 women have received the training for the same. Right now we are all set to train new batch of 45 trainees in Solukhumbu district. We are always open if they need any suggestions or ideas.
You have been involved in Nepal Mountain Academy for two terms. What are the further plans?
-The tourism industry in Nepal holds big prospects. Our country is geographically and culturally very diverse and attracts all sorts of tourists. We have been constantly working to uplift the status of tourism in nepal. We have developed syllabus for mountaineering and tourism for +2 , bachelor’s and masters in tourism. We are involved in creating skilled human resources to promote the tourism sector of our country. We give trekking guide training, ski training etc as well.
You are also involved in social work?
-Yes, I do some kind of besides my profession. We have a orphanage in Koteshwor of Kathmandu. First 4 children we had reached from the central jail. Though the number is small, we take care that they get individual attention and efforts. Most of our children have completed their bachelor degree and have started working too. I also join hands in other activities, I am expected to join.
What are your suggestions for success to aspiring young women?
-Well, we should take help of anyone we think are helpful. They may be men or women ! Without other people’s support it is difficult to move forward alone. Sometimes the family may not be supportive.
First of all we should learn to face the obstacles. If we don’t have the courage to face them, they will dominate us and we won’t be able to move at all. We should fix a goal and work hard towards the direction. I urge the parents to raise their children without any partiality towards the male or female child. They should be allowed to grow in an environment with equality.(By Deekshya Awasthi Timilsina)