Tenth anniversary presentation to Sherpa community in Namche

5th May 2017
The Xtreme Everest team present their donation
The Xtreme Everest team present their donation

The Xtreme Everest team has always had a profound sense of indebtedness to the Sherpa community in Nepal. Team members have been carrying out medical research in Nepal and Tibet with Sherpa support since the early noughties. Since the Caudwell Xtreme Everest expedition in 2007, we have wanted to share what we have learned with them. Xtreme Everest has carried out a significant number of public engagement events over the years, but never at such high altitude. Namche is situated at 3500m above sea level.

The Xtreme Everest team was en route to Everest base camp on a tenth anniversary medical research trek. The trek logistics were provided by Jagged Globe, and supported by local agent Summit Trekking. The Sherpa team provided by Summit Trekking worked with the Namche Youth Group and other community groups to organize a venue and refreshments for this event. The Namche Youth Group is a local group that supports education, health and environmental protection initiatives in and around Namche. It has been central to raising funds to rebuild the monastery, stupa and other structures that were damage by the recent earthquake.

Mike Grocott, leader of the Caudwell Xtreme Everest medical research expedition, provided an overview of the presentation. Then, Kay Mitchell outlined the key role the Sherpa community had paid in supporting the research delivery. Denny Levett identified differences between sherpas and lowlanders in their response to exercise at altitude. Dan Martin followed this with differences in microcirculation between the two groups, and Andrew Murray commented on mitochondrial differences. Finally, David Howard talked about the difference in the condition of the upper airway in sherpas versus lowlanders. Mike Grocott then returned to sum up, and express the thanks of Xtreme Everest to the local community.

The audience consisted of members of the Sherpa community from within Namche, but also elsewhere. At least one individual had made his way up from Lukla (5-6 hours walk away) to hear the presentation. The Sherpas were joined by research trekkers from the tenth anniversary treks. Local community activist Tenzing Sherpa, owner of one of the oldest lodges in Namche - the Khumbu Lodge - was very pleased to learn more concrete information about what made Sherpas able to perform so well in a low oxygen environment. He suggested that each local audience member would share what they had learned with at least five acquaintances, thus ensuring further dissemination over the coming days.

Finally, the Xtreme Everest team was delighted to be able to present the local community with a substantial donation to support the rebuilding of the monastery, and to facilitate personal donations from the Xtreme Everest trekkers to support the rebuilding of the Namche stupa. Without the Sherpas, much of our research would not have been possible: it was very special for us to be able to express some of our gratitude through this event as well as to share our results with this great community.

For more images of this event and of the trip, please visit the dedicated gallery

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