Everest porters honor Mountain for their wealth
It is common practice for the local Sherpas to worship the Mountain Goddess Chomolungma in gratitude for the wealth they have gained from her since the steady influx of Westerners after the first ascent.
When the first Swiss Geologist visited Everest in 1949 the native Sherpas were awed at his luxurious boots, a far cry from their hay-filled leather socks. A few years later 12 year old tribe member, Killa Pala played porter to the British expedition who first conquered the mountain. This was the beginning of an opportunity for the tribe to earn a wage paid to porters that was seven times more than offered at the local quarry.
Today some of the Sherpas are retired climbers who own hotels and car dealerships. Many own second homes and send their children to boarding schools because of Chomolungma's gifts.
The economy still depends on the remaining porters who cater to 20 000 tourists a year. Their hard labors include lugging 80kg's of buffalo meat for the hotels, heavy timber and varying kinds of luggage.
For the time being, the Mountain Goddess's wealth still appears to be limited to select groups however, while the likes of the Rai tribe are reported to have been found near- fatal, sleeping in caves at altitudes of 4910m above sea level with no shoes or blankets. The source of this exploitation is allegedly certain tour leaders and trekking agencies.
Original article by Thomas Bell for the South African Cape Argus, courtesy of The Daily Telegraph
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Uhh, porters are wealthy??? My understanding was that they where inhumanely overworked and grosely under paid. Or as it is put is John Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" from a Sherpa orphan living in South Africa,
"I am a Sherpa orphan. My father was killed in the Khumbu Icefall while load-ferrying for an expedition in the late sixties. My mother died just below the Pheriche when her heart gave out under the weight of the load she was carring for another expedition in 1970. Three of my siblings died from various causes...I never have gone back to my homeland because I feel it is cursed. My ancestors arrived in the Solo-Khumbu region fleeing from persecution in the lowlands. There they found sanctuary in the shadow of "Sagarmathaji," "mother goddes of the earth [Everest]. In return they were expected to protect that goddesses' sanctuary from outsiders. But my people went the other way. They helped outsiders find their way into the sanctuary and violate every limb of her body by standing on top of her, crowing in victory, and dirtying and polluting her bosom."
A very different and grim persepctive indeed, which makes me sad because I still plan on climbing Everest someday.