Are you part monkey? That's what most parents suspect about their kids when they're young, because most kids like to monkey around! Whether it's playing on the monkey bars or climbing trees, at some point or another most kids like to reach new heights by testing out their skill as a climber.
For others, though, climbing becomes a hobby and maybe even a passion. We're talking about serious mountaineers who enjoy climbing the world's highest peaks. For many of these people, the ultimate goal is to climb the world's tallest mountain, Mount Everest.
Climbing Mount Everest is no easy task, though. Marking the border between Nepal to the south and Tibet to the north, Mount Everest sits in unforgiving terrain. The path to the top is difficult and requires many supplies.
Fortunately, there are people who live in the area who are able to help the many climbers from around the world who try to tackle Mount Everest every year. These people from Nepal are called the Sherpa people.
The Sherpa people got their name from the Tibetan words for “eastern people." They live in the high Himalayan Mountain regions of Nepal. Their ancestors were most likely nomadic Tibetans. Today, their population is estimated at over 150,000 people.
Because they have lived in the area for hundreds of years, the Sherpa people are experts when it comes to the local mountainous terrain. Naturally, they're also advanced mountaineers. This made them a perfect choice as guides for the first expeditions up Mount Everest.
In fact, the Sherpa people are such excellent mountain guides that many people refer to any good mountain guide as a Sherpa. Technically, though, the name only applies to the Nepalese people who have lived in the area for many years.
The Sherpa people have lived at high altitudes for so long that their bodies have adapted to life in the area. This enables them to climb with great strength and stamina. For this reason, many Sherpa people carry heavy loads of equipment on mountain climbing expeditions, while the people they guide concentrate on the basics of climbing in unfamiliar territory.
One of the most famous Sherpas of all time is Tenzing Norgay. Along with Sir Edmund Hillary, he became one of the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. Another famous Sherpa, Apa Sherpa, has reached the summit of Mount Everest over 17 times!