Growing up in the shadow of Mount Everest, Pasang wanted to be a mountaineer from an early age, though she had never really heard of another woman doing so. She loved the mountains, that was all. Her parents died by the time she was 15, leaving a 6 year old sister for her to raise. She decided, somehow, in those circumstances, nothing is impossible.
At the age of 23, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita became the first first woman mountaineering instructor in Nepal. She became the first Nepali woman to climb Mount Everest and return alive.
Pasang longed to take on the impossibly challenging K2, her lifelong dream, which she conquered in 2014 at the age of 30.
In 2015, she found herself at the Everest Base Camp during the deadly avalanche, where her friends were among the 20 sherpas killed in that disaster. In response to the needs, Pasang joined the Nomads Clinic, building shelters and distributing blankets to those whose homes were destroyed, organizing temporary medical facilities, coordinating relief convoys, and preventing trafficking of victims following this disaster. She began a foundation to support her vision: educating girls so that they have choices over their lives.
Maybe it was her life motto, nothing is impossible, and maybe it was her continuing fearless climbs, her humanitarian work and her advocacy for women and education, but, in 2016, National Geographic named her Adventurer of the Year.
Leading one expedition, Pasang met photographer Cira Crowell and became fast friends. Together they walked 800 miles through Nepal and the mountains of Asia, especially doing so to support the Nomads Clinic, bringing healthcare to isolated mountain people; Cira capturing the splendor of the snowy passes with her camera.
Cira reach out to me recently, as she and Pasang are attending the Savannah unveiling of Mothered by Mountains, a movie about Pasang's mountaineering, as well as an exhibit of Cira's photographs, and passing through Charleston. She shares Pasang's love of weaving and her support of artisans in Nepal and Bhutan and wanted to share some sources with Ibu.
So excited I was by this duo, that I quickly invited them to stop by and tell their story, to allow those of you in this area to meet them both. Cira has developed a short program of her heart-stopping photographs taken on their 800 miles of walking together. Pasang has agreed to tell her story of adventure, her passion for her people, and how she came to believe - and to live - her motto.
I, for one, want to sit for a moment and listen to Pasang talk about her life, her vision, and to see the light that Cira has captured in image. I want to be transported, inspired and emboldened, don't you?
I offer these women to you for just that great wind of inspiration that we all seek, that we all know is within us, and must simply be awakened. For the mountains we look upon each day, the challenges we rise to meet - I want to keep alive, at all times, the adventurer within. Here's to those who show us how.
Keep on Climbing ~
Susan Hull Walker