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K2 Memorial: The story of Nima Sherpa

Posted: Jul 31, 2007 11:14 pm EDT

(K2climb.net) The news struck on July 20, in the full heat of K2's summit push: One of the Sherpas climbing with the Korean team fell to his death from the Bottleneck to the rocks below. He slipped on the way up - it was still dark."

Another Sherpa and an Italian mountaineer tried to grab the climber, but couldn't stop his fall hundreds of meters down the south face. The Korean team's website immediately confirmed the accident.

The next day, Ang Karma Sherpa (1985 Everest north side summiteer) from Windhorse Trekking who provided the Sherpa support for the Dynamic Busan Korea K2 Expedition team, confirmed the name of the Sherpa climber as Nima Nuru from Thame.

Bottleneck at night

The crux of both the Abruzzi and Cesen routes (which share camp 4) - the serac-threatened Bottleneck is the place for K2's greatest history of triumph and tragedy. At 8300 meters, the 100-meter narrow couloir is cold and windswept; the hard ice with an incline of 80-90 degrees can create extremely challenging, sustained climbing. Most climbers who died on K2 perished in falls - and most on or around the Bottleneck.

On Nima's final night, 5 teams - Russian, Korean, Portuguese, Iranian, American and Italian climbers were sharing the few tents they had still standing on the storm-ravaged higher camps, and moved according to a common strategy.

Nima left high camp around midnight, a couple of hours before the Russian-Kuban team (first summiteers) probably to fix ropes. He climbed in the dark, pushing the dreadful slope following already several days of hard work in deep snow to upper camps.


Nives Meroi described the final push on K2 to ExplorersWeb, "The climbers must be completely sure about their skills, they need to have clear in their minds what are they doing and where they are going. Focusing on each step is not enough; they need to look up to the route above them. And of course, they must know when to turn around."

Nima lacked two of these options. The route was hard to scout in the blackness of the night. And he had a family to support. Turning around would cut their food in half - Sherpas get a hefty Summit bonus.

The star badge of K2

At only 33 years old, the young Sherpa of Thame village in Solukhumbu had worked his way up to a Sirdar position fast. On K2, he was leading 2 climbing Sherpas and the Korean climbers, with whom he'd already scaled Everest north side in 2006.

Nima first summited Everest in 2002, and then every single year between 2004 until this spring, when he topped out with Prague's city Mayor, Bem Pavel (43). It was a sweet success for the young Czech-Slovak team.

Bem had been refused entry in Tibet, reportedly for being too outspoken against Communism. The Mayor, who had obtained approval from the City Council on his request for a two-month unpaid leave only after some debate and also criticism from President Vaclav Klaus himself; refused to surrender.

His supporters were thrilled, when Pavel decided he'd bag the peak from Nepal instead. And that he did - together with Nima.

No doubt, Nima was ambitious, and a man who delivered. His strife paid off when the Koreans offered him the Sirdar position for his very first climb in Karakoram. He was going to K2 - a big deal even in his home land of natural-born climbers.


The news was double edged for Nimas young wife, Dawa Lhamu (33). The climb would keep her sleepless at nights, but offer a future for the couple's two kids - daughter Nima Lhaki (5) and son Mingmar Temba (7).

Nima, the sole bread winner for his family and mother Ang Pasi (55) had to take the risk. It would be a break for them all, including his kid brother Lhaka Tenzi, a grade IX student in Kathmandu thanks to Nima's financial support.

K2 takes someone virtually every season. Climbers know that. They just don't think it will be them. This time, the black shadow fell on Nima.

Another expedition Sherpa in line

Nimas family will receive a compensation of US$ 7,500. This is the highest insurance coverage offered in Kathmandu for expeditions to Pakistan. The amount (Rs. 500.000) is actually less than the Rs. 700,000 coverage offered for expeditions in Nepal and Tibet.

Most of this amount will be spent on Nima's burial, and the rest will cover 1-2 years of his family's immediate financial needs. After that, they're on their own. Hopefully, another young brother of Nima's, 22 year old Dawa Jangbu might be able to help - he too works as an expedition Sherpa.

"Soft spoken, helpful and honest, Nima was immensely liked and respected by his friends and fellow climbers," said Ang Karma.

Nima Nuru Sherpa's Biodata:

Date of Birth: June 18, 1974.
Died: July 20, 2007

Mountaineering Background:

Season/ Mountain/ Year/Team/Result
Spring Everest 1998 British 8000.m.
Autumn Cho-Oyu 1998 German 7000.m.
Spring Cho-Oyu 1999 Russian 7000.m.
Autumn Tilicho 2000 Singapore Summit
Spring Everest 2002 Swiss Summit
Spring Everest 2003 France 2nd step
Autumn Cho-Oyu 2003 " " Summit
Spring Everest 2004 Spanish Summit
Autumn Barunche 2004 France Summit
Spring Everest N 2005 Norway Summit
Autumn Barunche 2005 France Summit
Spring Everest N 2006 Korea Summit
Autumn Shisha 2006 Japanese Summit
Spring Everest S 2007 Czech-Slo Summit
Summer K2 2007 Korean ........

Statistically, triumphs on K2 are few. Only since the start of the new Millenium, the peak has been left entirely without summits in 2002, 2003 and 2005 . And last year, only four people topped out - and only two of those without oxygen; Italian Nives Meroi and Romano Bennet.

#Mountaineering #Mountaineering

Nima on Everest summit. Image shot this spring by the Prague mayor Bem Pavel, courtesy of Ang Karma from Windhorse trekking.
The Bottleneck in image by Libor Uher/ P.Sulovsky's K2 & BP Czech and Slovak expedition (click to enlarge).
The names of the Korean summiteers from the Dynamic Busan Korea K2 team are (left) Kim Jin Tae, 44, and (right) Kim Zhang Ho, 38. The expedition leader is Hong Bo Seong, 51. (Click to enlarge)
Another Sherpa and an Italian climber reportedly tried to grab Nima. Perhaps the Italian was Stefano Zavka (in the image) himself missing since that night, last seen by his team mate above the Bottleneck on descent from summit. Image of Stefano courtesy of the Italian expedition/Hugues d'Aubarede (click to enlarge).
"Soft spoken, helpful and honest, Nima was immensely liked and respected by his friends and fellow climbers," Ang Karma said about Nima.

The entire route - click to enlarge. Image by ExplorersWeb.