5th Annual Sagaramantha (Mt. Everest) Day Celebration

5th Annual Sagaramantha (Mt. Everest) Day Celebration

Every year in Nepal, at the end of the climbing season, the Nepalese celebrate “Sagarmantha (Mt. Everest Day).”  A local Nepalese climber speaks for the local climbers and an international climber speaks for the international climbing community.  In 2012, I was honored to speak for the international climbing community. Here are my remarks on May 29, 2012:

“Thank you. I am greatly humbled and honored to be asked to talk 
on behalf of the international mountaineering community.  My
 qualifications are modest and pale in comparison to the qualifications 
of many of you in attendance here today. However, I sincerely
 appreciate the opportunity you have given me to offer my remarks at this 
celebratory event.

First, I want to congratulate those of you who summitted Mt. Everest 
this year. This is a remarkable
 achievement and you deserve to be proud.

I also want to congratulate those of you who climbed the 
mountain but did not summit.  You too deserve to be proud of your 
efforts and especially happy that you made good decisions on the
 mountain and are here to celebrate life itself.  It has been said 
that everyone wants to stand on the summit, but all the teaching, all the
 learning, all the hard work and all the experience occur on the ascent and 
the descent, and not on the summit.

Over the last 6 years, I have learned this valuable lesson that I pass along 
to those of you who did not summit: the mountain will surely be here 
next year if you decide to return.

This is my 6th year in a row on Mt. Everest–3 times on the South side
 and 3 times on the North side.  This was a special year for me because I was able to climb from both the South and the North sides of Everest.

People often ask me why I keep coming back.  Why do you do it year
 after year?  What’s the point since you have already summitted the
 mountain?  To be honest, sometimes I ask myself the same question.

Here’s the answer: I love the Himalaya mountain range.  I love Mt.
 Everest.  When I come here each year and put my foot on Mt.
Everest, I feel like I am standing on sacred ground. In fact, I am standing 
on sacred ground.  But, most of all, I come back every year because I 
love the people of Nepal and Tibet.  They are so friendly and welcoming 
and willing to share their beautiful country with the international
 climbing community.  Thank you so much for your hospitality and your 

We often celebrate the accomplishments of the local and international 
climbers who come to the Himalayan region to climb these magnificent 
mountains. But, we often forget to celebrate and thank those wonderful
 people who make this possible and do most of the work and sacrifice the
 most on the mountain.

I refer of course to the Sherpas, Sirdars, Base Camp Managers, porters,
 cooks, medical doctors, icefall doctors, line fixers, helicopter pilots,
and those unselfish individuals who participate in rescue and recovery 
efforts for stricken climbers.  I also include, of course, the local and
 international expedition companies and their leaders and guides who
 work so hard to ensure our safety and our success on the mountain.
 And, finally, let’s not forget the Lamas who come up to Base Camp 
to conduct the Pujas and seek the blessing of the Almighty for our 

I would like to spend just a moment talking about the ecology of Mt. 
Everest.  Over the last 6 years, I have seen a dramatic improvement 
in the cleanliness of Mt. Everest as the government and the local and
 international climbing community have mobilized efforts to remove
 trash from the mountain. There remains much to be done, but these 
efforts are paying huge dividends. In the “cash for trash” program our 
team initiated in 2009, we were able to remove 5 tons of trash from Base 
Camp South.  I sincerely hope more teams will implement these type of
 clean-up programs and require the use of wag bags on the mountain.  The
 cost is small, but the impact is positive and great.

Finally, a brief word about global warming. I know this is a 
controversial topic.  But, we saw the impact of this early in the season on
 the South side with the lack of snow on the mountain causing serious injuries from rock falls.  The people of Nepal see this from a much larger 
and more long-term perspective as climate change and global warming 
threaten their economy, social structure, culture and way of life.  As we
 return to our countries, let’s keep this global concern in the public eye
 and the public discourse with the hope that the international community
 of nations can strike a proper balance between industrial development 
and the need to protect our precious environment. Let’s also do what
 we can as individuals in the short run to help the poorest of the poor in
 Nepal who are the most negatively impacted by climate change through 
the loss of jobs.  We can help them by coming back to Nepal as tourists, 
trekkers and climbers, which will put people to work and support the
 economy.  That’s what I plan to do.

Thank you, God Bless You, and see you next year.”