Steamboat Living: 5 minutes with Chhiring Dorje Sherpa
Last April, an avalanche struck the Khumbu Icefall above base camp on Mount Everest, killing 16 Sherpas and marking the deadliest avalanche in the mountain’s history. One of their own, Chhiring (pronounced “sear-ring,” meaning “long life”) Dorje Sherpa, 39, who has summited Everest 12 times and seven other 8,000-meter peaks, now calls Steamboat — where he bases his guide company, Rolwaling Excursion — home. Recently earning Sherpa Sardar, a title bestowed on fewer than 25 mountaineers, and receiving the Explorer’s Club’s Tenzing Norgay Award for his actions during the 2008 K2 disaster, he lives here with his wife, Dawa Phuti Sherpa, and daughters, Tshering Namdu Sherpa, 17, and Tensing Phuti Sherpa, 14. We caught up with him for his thoughts on Steamboat, scaling mountains and the tragedy claiming the lives of his kin.
In his words
I moved here in 2013 after I got my green card. I had visited Steamboat after meeting local climber Eric Meyer on Everest in 2004. We became good friends, like brothers. I visited him four times before moving here last year.
I have a lot of good friends here, like Eric, Rob Powers, Matt Tredway, Pete Perry, Steve DeLine and Sue Birch. I’ve been to very many countries and I like it here. Everyone’s friendly and helps each other all the time.
When I’m not guiding, I work construction, pouring concrete with Matt and working with Pete. I also work with Everything Outdoor Steamboat and Rob’s America 300 Foundation.
I wasn’t guiding on Everest when the accident happened. Usually I’d be there. I was leading a trip up Ama Dablam, about 100 miles away. We were heading up to base camp and I saw rescue helicopters bringing bodies. I knew something had happened. That evening I heard news about the accident.
I knew seven of the people who died. I’ve climbed with them. It is very sad. It is a big number to die all at once. I am surprised that it happened. My cousin’s husband was in the avalanche and helped rescue three of the people.
I go to Nepal about three times a year to guide. I am going for three months this fall to guide some Swedish climbers up 26,906-foot Cho Oyu, the world’s sixth-highest peak.
I have climbed some 14ers in Colorado. They are very technical mountains and very hard. I do more big mountains than rock.
My daughters moved here March 5. They like it and have made friends easily. It’s easy to make friends here. They are in ninth and 11th grade. It is a much better education than back home. I want this education for my daughters.
My father and sister are back in Nepal. I would like to bring them here, but it is very difficult.
I was in Backdoor Sports once and a girl walked in and started speaking Nepalese. I was very surprised. She said she learned it in Kathmandu.
This spring I will return to Everest to lead an expedition up the north side. Climbing is my job. I’d like to take some people from Steamboat there sometime.
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