Mourning Pasang Lama Seru, the Khumbu Trail Builder

Yesterday, Sherpas paid tribute on their social media to the passing of a wrinkled old man, who was a familiar sight on the trails of the Khumbu Valley. Pasang Lama Sherpa, known as Lama Seru, had never summited Everest, but he was an unsung hero of the region. For decades as a volunteer, he fixed, maintained, and enlarged the trails. Lama Seru was 79.

“If one day you trek from Namche up to Gokyo or Everest Base Camp, you will walk on the trails he made,” Chhewang Sherpa wrote.

“He worked tirelessly to improve the trekking trail from Namche Bazar to Pheriche,” Namche Bazaar’s Youth Group posted.

“He was always there, working tirelessly to ensure that the trails were safe and accessible to trekkers,” Chhiring D wrote. “His tireless efforts have made the experience of trekking in the region a pleasant one, and his presence will be deeply missed by all who had the good fortune to know him.”

The old man sits in a chair by a small table topped by a big donation box, and Chhiring smiling beside him, on a dirt-track Khumbu trail.

Chhiring D. Sherpa beside Pasang Lama’s donation desk in the Khumbu some time ago. Photo: Chhiring Sherpa/Facebook


Began as a porter

In the 1980s, Pasang started working as a porter and endured the poor state of the trails at a time when the tourism industry was just starting. He decided to improve the sometimes treacherous paths with his own hands or helped by his wife, Lakpa Yangji. They started working near their home at Dingboche, then moved on to other sections of the valley, Stefan Nestler noted.

He kept a small desk and a box where he asked for donations from passing trekkers.

Blue sign appealing for trail-building donations



Pasang Lama was cremated today, thanks to local donations. Visitors will benefit from his work for years to come. Those trekking in the Khumbu may want to have a thought for Lama Seru as they walk on its wide, comfortable trails.

Below, a short profile made about Pasang back in 2014.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.