Sherpa Exchange Program

In 2009, Denali National Park's Mountaineering Program and the Khumbu Climbing Center (KCC) collaborated to form the Sherpa Exchange Program. The purpose of the exchange is to share rescue, climbing, mountaineering and land management techniques used in different National Parks with the Nepali instructors of KCC. Since 2009, one or two Nepali instructors from KCC have been nominated to participate with a Denali Mountaineering patrol. Denali, being one of the cleanest and most well managed Seven Summits in the world offers Sherpas a chance to learn mountaineering skills and management techniques to share in Nepal. As of 2011 the exchange program is also associated with Yosemite National Park's Climbing Program.

The Sherpa Exchange Program strives to bring the mission of the Khumbu Climbing Center to a real world experience outside of the Himalayas and Nepal. KCC was founded in 2003 in order "To increase the safety margin of Nepali climbers and high altitude workers by encouraging responsible climbing practices in a supportive and community-based program." For more information on this organization go to

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Ang Tshering Lama What is your work/background?I am a mountain guide and have been climbing about 17 years. What were a couple highlights of doing the exchange on Denali this summer? The first highlight was getting to Alaska, as it was my child hood dream to see Alaska. Second was getting to climb Denali. What did you learn about the Denali program?From the Denali program I learned how to manage the human waste up on the mountains and also about the rescue procedures/protocols. Will you bring back any techniques or things learned back to Nepal? Yes I will take this back home and share with my fellow people. What is the benefit of the exchange program? The benefit of the exchange program is that people share their views, come to know people, learn the skills. What do you think the Denali Rangers do best? They are hard working, they know what they are doing, and they put in all 100% for what they have come to do. What is the importance in climbing the world's highest peaks? In my knowledge as far as importance of climbing the worlds highest mountains is divided into 2 categories, for one kind it is true passion for climbing and challenging ones abilities those who live for it and the other is just for making a name that they have climbed the mountain. What should climbers know about climbing Denali? Climbers should remember one thing while climbing Denali or any mountain: not to underestimate the power of nature. We are nothing comparable to that power. Be well prepared for the worst, and make wise decisions.
Dawa Sherpa Hometown:Kathmandu, Nepal
Work/Background:I'm a mountain guide, and I work for Khumbu Climbing Center. I love to do urban agriculture, and I'm also a social worker for my community. What were the highlights of your patrol? There were a lot of opportunities to learn and the friendships made. It was a calm soothing feeling whenever we rescued someone. I learned that it is a great opportunity for us to learn about the teamwork and learn the skill of rescue. What should climbers know about climbing Denali? Denali has cold unpredictable weather and the Himalayas are high altitude also unpredictable weather. But the biggest difference is in altitude and the climbing skills between our people and the westerner climbers. This exchange program was very meaningful to me. Giving education in any skill is the biggest type of gift.
PhuNuru Sherpa PhuNuru was the first participant in the Sherpa exchange program in 2009. Although it was a different climbing style than he was used to, it was no problem for him to adapt and he felt right at home on the mountain.
PhuNuru felt this was a huge learning experience in many ways, and he has expressed interest in returning for another season to continue learning about how the mountain is managed and how rescues are carried out safely and efficiently, and, most importantly, to spend more time in the Alaska Range.