How Moving Mountains Nepal was created
When Ang Chhongba Sherpa was still a young boy, he used to walk for days to Khumjung to go to school. He wanted to become a lawyer and thus continued his scholarship. When he met his wife, he was studying law in university. In the early years of their marriage, his wife, Chakpa Yangji Sherpa, worked hard to make a living for both and for Chhongba to keep on pursuing his studies. Sadly, after Chhongba had succeeded his Bachelor degree in law, there was a lack of job opportunities on the lawyer market of Nepal. Hence, Chhongba had to give up his dream, and had no choice at that time, but to join the life of Porters and embark on a new career. This step in his life was quite a disappointment in the eyes of the Nepalese society, particularly after going through an advanced level of education.
Nonetheless, he started his new career without hesitation in order to sustain his family. During those years, his path crossed Gavin Bate’s steps. It must have been a lucky day for both of them.
Gavin understood Chhongba was more than a porter. His English was good, he was cultivated and very intelligent. During his trek with this unusual porter, Gavin thought of starting a new business. To him, Chhongba could easily be a “Sirdar” (tourist guide and tour leader in Nepali) thanks to his knowledge and education. Therefore, they started creating various trips together.
This new way of life offered Chhongba a new solemnity. He thanked Gavin by inviting him to meet his whole family in the village of Bumburi. What Gavin had done by giving Chhongba his new job made of him a new member of the family.
Spending time in Chhongba’s hometown with his fellow, Gavin understood they were meant to meet each other: both had the same views on how tourism could help the villages and how a company could develop and improve the community’s environment.
Therefore, Chhongba initiated a village comity and introduced Gavin to them and the different villages around the area. Ideas merged and plans were methodically created: Chhongba would become the director of Moving Mountain Nepal.
Already dreaming of a better future for his hometown, Chhongba had to keep his feet on the ground. Gavin reminded him that the association needed money in order to sustain the villages. But this was only a matter of patience. To raise funds, Gavin offered to climb Mount Everest, allowing him to get sponsored and later donate the money to Moving Mountains Nepal.
After 23 years, the money raised by the association and Gavin’s expeditions allowed the villages to improve their living conditions. Education and culture have been enhanced through the building of schools and refurbishment of monasteries, health and well-being have benefited of clinics and medical centres and the households have seen hydro-electric power-plants, water tanks, pipelines and smokeless cooking stoves reshape their everyday comfort.
A sequel of adventure
Gavin has never stopped climbing to help the foundation raise some more money. During the latter years, Chhongba and his wife became worried for his health as he was increasing the amount of donation by climbing without oxygen.
Nepali people strongly believe in destiny. This feeling was a warning to Chhongba and his family. The kind of perception that should not be ignored.
That is why, in 2007, when Gavin was preparing for one more climb of Mount Everest, Chhongba insisted that his brother in law, Pasang Tendi Sherpa, accompany him. To please and reassure his good friends, Gavin accepted the help and companionship of Pasang.
Destiny worked her way through and during the ascent, Gavin was struck by a pulmonary oedema. Without noticing it, they maintained their progression on the mountain. Past 8500m Gavin failed. Pasang quickly covered his face with his personal oxygen mask and started a life saving descent. Both holding oxygen bottles and Gavin on his back, Pasang came down the mountain to a safer altitude where Gavin could start recovering from his oedema.
Subsequently, as a thank you for Pasang’s gesture, Gavin offered him a guesthouse. It is at that time, that with this new friendship, Adventure Alternative Nepal was founded.
Pasang Tendi Sherpa would take care of the guesthouse and the Adventure Alternative Nepal’s office. And Ang Chhongba Sherpa would help him while managing Moving Mountains Nepal.
After this misfortune, Gavin went back to Bumburi with Chhongba. There, having heard of his misadventure, Chhongba’s mother was overwhelmed to see them healthy. She grabbed the two of them and, with a sigh of relief, said “my two sons came home”.