School for moun­taineer­ing builds home-grown ex­pe­di­tion ex­per­tise

Com­pany founder promotes re­gion as cen­ter ofHi­malayan cul­ture and out­door sports par­adise

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By PALDEN NY­IMA andDAQIONG in Lhasa

Sur­rounded by snow-capped moun­tains and glaciers, the Ti­betan Plateau is one of the world’s finest des­ti­na­tions for climbers and ex­plor­ers seek­ing chal­leng­ing peaks and rar­efied vis­tas.

Yet for decades, most se­ri­ous moun­taineers looked out­side of China for the guides, re­sources and ser­vices needed to climb its lofty peaks.

Ti­betan alpin­ist Ny­ima Tsering sought to change that, step by step, ex­pe­di­tion by ex­pe­di­tion.

Born in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion’s east­ern Qamdo pre­fec­ture, Ny­ima­has spent the past 15 years gen­er­at­ing lo­cal moun­taineer­ing ex­per­tise, build­ing Ti­bet into a cen­ter of Hi­malayan moun­taineer­ing cul­ture and pro­mot­ing the area as a par­adise for out­door sports.

Ny­ima, 47, has three times climbed to the sum­mit of Qo­molangma, known as Mount Ever­est in theWest. He made a 8,500-me­ter as­cent in 2000, and was the third of five torch­bear­ers on the moun­tain in cel­e­bra­tion of China’s 2008 Olympic Games.

The founder of Ti­bet’s

first moun­taineer­ing school, Ny­i­maalso was the first to op­er­ate a moun­taineer­ing ex­pe­di­tion com­pany, the Ti­bet Hi­malaya Ex­pe­di­tion Co.

The Ti­bet Moun­taineer­ing School, which he es­tab­lished in 1999, has trained more than 200 pro­fes­sional moun­taineer­ing staff, in­clud­ing guides, trans­la­tors and coaches. It is one of only two moun­taineer­ing schools in the world, the other be­ing the French Na­tional Ski­ing andMoun­tain Guide School in Cha­monix, France.

The two schools have signed long-term co­op­er­a­tive con­tracts. “In the past 15 years, the French school has sent their coaches to our school ev­ery year, and we have sent our stu­dents to their school ev­ery year,” Ny­ima said.

The French school shares its climb­ing tech­niques and makes a “great con­tri­bu­tion to the suc­cess of moun­taineer­ing in Ti­bet”, he said.

Ti­bet’s trained climbers are mostly from the coun­ties of Din­gri, Gyirong, Nyanang and Dingye, as th­ese are rich in tall, snow-packed moun­tains. The climbers and moun­tain guides mostly work on Qo­molangma and in the cen­tral ar­eas of theHi­malayas.

Be­fore the school’s found­ing, moun­taineer­ing ser­vices in China were mainly pro­vided by for­eign­ers.

“I can say the school filled a gap of moun­taineer­ing in China as such ser­vices were mainly car­ried out by Nepalis and West­ern­ers decades ago,” Ny­ima said.

Lo­cated in Lhasa, the cap­i­tal of the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion, the school pro­vides cul­tural cour­ses in the morn­ing— such as lan­guages, history, film­ing and cook­ing — and phys­i­cal classes in the af­ter­noon. And it’s all free to stu­dents. Ny­ima’s two moun­taineer­ing ex­pe­di­tion com­pa­nies pay all the ex­penses, in­clud­ing ac­com­mo­da­tions and fees, with the help of a 700 yuan ($110) monthly sub­sidy for each stu­dent from the re­gional ed­u­ca­tional depart­ment.

In ad­di­tion to as­sum­ing the school’s cost, the two com­pa­nies man­age the school, help grad­u­ates gain field ex­pe­ri­ence, and pro­vide them with jobs.

“The two com­mer­cial ex­pe­di­tion com­pa­nies Ny­ima Tsering founded have helped main­tain his moun­taineer­ing school as a sus­tain­able project,” said Tsering Sam­drup, 33, the gen­eral man­ager of Ti­bet Hi­malaya Ex­pe­di­tion.

The school cur­rently has 40 stu­dents, mostly men, from the four Ti­betan coun­ties with the five high­est moun­tains.

“Not only does Ti­bet have its own pro­fes­sional team for climb­ing, the team has helped many am­a­teurs ful­fill their climb­ing dreams,” Tsering said.

Asked about the ori­gins of the school, Ny­ima said he wanted lo­cal peo­ple to be skilled at all sorts of moun­taineer­ing jobs, not just trans­porta­tion.

“I was dis­ap­pointed by the re­al­i­tyof Ti­bet nothav­ing highly skilled pro­fes­sion­als to carry out moun­taineer­ing work a decade ago,” Ny­ima said.

Ti­bet has many ad­van­tages in de­vel­op­ing its moun­taineer­ing in­dus­try. It has five moun­tains higher than 8,000 me­ters, more than 70 moun­tains higher than 7,000 me­ters, and more than 1,000 moun­tains higher than 6,000 me­ters.

“Ti­bet has rich re­sources for moun­taineer­ing, and Ti­betans near the moun­tains are born to adapt to the high-al­ti­tude en­vi­ron­ment,” said Zhang Mingx­ing, 50, sec­re­tary of the China Ti­bet Moun­taineer­ing As­so­ci­a­tion.

Zhang said the re­gion is build­ing a moun­taineer­ing in­dus­try and de­vel­op­ing its plateau sports in­dus­try.

“Ti­bet has huge po­ten­tial to cre­ate har­mo­nious de­vel­op­ment be­tween tourism, eco­nomics, the ser­vice sec­tor and moun­taineer­ing,” Zhang said.

Con­tact the writ­ers at palden_ny­ima@ chi­


Climbers from the Ti­bet Moun­taineer­ing School ar­rive at a height of 7,799 me­ters while climb­ing Qo­molangma, known as Mount Ever­est in the West, in 2008 in the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

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