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Story Publication logo April 28, 2016

Nepal's Khumbu Climbing Center


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The Pulitzer Center and The College of William & Mary continue their unique initiative to provide...

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For the last dozen years, the Khumbu Climbing Center (KCC) has contributed to the Sherpa career field. It has helped train its students—mostly Nepalese and Sherpa—to become better guides and mountaineering workers.

The KCC was founded in 2004 with the help of Conrad Anker and the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation. Each year there is a training in Phortse, Nepal, for about two weeks. This year will be it's 13th year running. Since its inception, it has played an important role in Nepal's mountaineering world, and therefore a contributor to Nepal's economy.

One of KCC's instructors, Chris Erickson, works as a climbing ranger in Denali National Park. "KCC is a bit of an economic engine for Phortse," he says. He also emphasized that the students are there not just to learn climbing technique, but something more important than that. "They're there to learn job skills; we're there to teach job skills."

At first, the KCC employed Western instructors to teach the Nepalese. But now, the Nepalese instructors outnumber the Westerners (20 to eight). Over the years, the KCC has proved to be a staple of local employment.

In 2015, KCC trained 94 students. This year, the number dropped to 74 registered students. The drop in numbers is partly due to earthquake reconstruction efforts. "People are busy making houses and rebuilding," Panuru Sherpa says.

Says Norbu Tenzing Norgay, son of Tenzing Norgay, who, along with Sir Edmund Hillary, was the first to summit Mount Everest in 1953: Rebuilding throughout the winter is happening, but most of the work will be done in the spring—when the next wave of tourists is supposed to arrive.

To watch a video of the view of the Khumbu Range, visit the Pulitzer Center's tumblr page.

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