Shadow of Everest on Google Map
Apa Sherpa is a Sherpa mountaineer who holds the world record for reaching the summit of Mount Everest 21 times—more than any other person. In 2009, Apa founded the Apa Sherpa Foundation, a nonprofit that works to provide better educational and economic opportunities to the young people of the Khumbu region. In March 2014, Apa Sherpa, Google Earth Outreach, and the Nepalese nonprofit Story Cycle, embarked on a 10-day trek through the Khumbu region, supporting local people to enhance the digital representations of their communities on Google Maps. We hope the project will empower the Apa Sherpa Foundation, Story Cycle, other nonprofits, and Sherpa community members to tell their stories through Google Maps. -Ed.
I was born in 1960 in Thame, a small town in the Khumbu region of Nepal, which is home to Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak. Even though I grew up in the shadow of the mountain, I dreamt of being a doctor instead of a climber. That dream was never realized. When I was 12, my father passed away, and I had to find work to support my family. So I began carrying goods up the mountain as part of an expedition team. At 30, a dream that had never been mine came true: I summited Everest for the first time as a porter.
Apa Sherpa on the summit of Everest with a memorial to Sir Edmund Hillary who passed away in 2008. Photo credit: Apa Sherpa Foundation
Our region is famous for being home to Everest, but it’s also the home of the Sherpa community and has been for centuries. The region has much more to offer than just the mountain. So last year, I guided the Google Maps team through my home region to collect Street View imagery that improves the map of our community. Now you can find Thame on the map and explore other communities nestled at the base of Everest, like Khumjung and Phortse.
Partnering with Google Maps allowed us to get important local landmarks on the map and share a richer view of Khumbu with the world, including local monasteries, lodges, schools and more, with some yaks along the way! My hope is that when people see this imagery online, they’ll have a deeper understanding of the region and the Sherpa people that live there.
When people ask what it feels like to reach the top of Mount Everest, I say “heaven.” But I haven’t summited the mountain 21 times because I love climbing. I earned this world record in pursuit of a greater goal: to provide a good education and a better, safer life for my kids. My hope is that my children and future generations have many choices for employment outside of mountaineering. Through the Apa Sherpa Foundation, I now work to improve educational access by funding the Lower Secondary School in my hometown to give children other options for their future, so they can pursue their dreams to be doctors—or anything else they want to be, like mine, so many years ago.
Your online trip to my home awaits you on Google Maps. And if you ever get the chance to visit the Khumbu region in person, come stay at the Everest Summiteer Lodge that I built with my own hands. We’ll be ready to welcome you.