Sherpa Guides Go Alpine Style During Winter Break

Sherpas who guide most of the year typically relax and enjoy family life over the winter. But some of the younger generation use the cold season to fulfill their climbing ambitions. Such is the case of Prakash Gurung and Yukta G. The pair are currently attempting the first ascent of 6,759m Khumjungar Himal.

Upper Mustang

Prakash Gurung and Yukta G launched their “Project Together 2023-24” in November. They wanted to do an alpine-style climb with an environmentally friendly approach, to emphasize preserving the undisturbed and unspoiled mountains. Khumjungar Himal, in the upper Mustang region, is a nice choice, as it lies far from the most popular peaks and trekking routes.

The climbers and a member of the DoT or local agency hold a document.

Prakash Gurung, left, and Yukta G, center, with their climbing permit for Khumjungar Himal. Photo: Project Together/Instagram


The climbers flew to Jomson, then moved to the little village of Tange at 3,359m on Saturday, and a yak camp 1,000m further up yesterday. They should reach their Base Camp location today.

First complete ascent

The Nepalese want to achieve the first ascent of Khumjungar Himal. interestingly, Luke Smithwick of the U.S. reported he climbed the peak via the south face, leading a U.S. team this past fall. When we asked him about it, he explained: “We climbed the south face to the summit ridge and returned to base camp the same day. We did not touch the summit.”

“It looks like the Nepalese are climbing on the north side of the peak,” Smithwick added. “We were attracted to the south side for the challenge.”

Prakash Gurung and Yukta G will climb alpine style in winter conditions.

Prakash Gurung is an IFMGA guide and mountaineering instructor. He guided an attempt on the South Face of Lhotse and has worked the 8,000m commercial circuit for several outfitters. He has also helped train fellow Nepalese climbers.

Yukta G is an aspiring guide with Elite Exped. He summited some peaks with Anna Gutu, who later perished in an avalanche on Shishapangma.

Summit selfie, with Prakash Gurung wearing goggles and some climbers sitting on the summit behind him.

Prakash Gurung on the summit of Everest. Photo: Prakash Gurung/Facebook

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.