Kalimpong, May 23: The news of the death of mountaineer Pemba Doma Sherpa has shocked her close acquaintances and in-laws here.
The 36-year-old climber died in an accident while climbing down from Mt Lhotse (8,516m) in Nepal on Monday. She had summitted the peak — the fourth highest in the world — earlier in the day. The accident happened above the 8,000m mark.
The two-time Everester was the “daughter-in-law of the hill town”, having married local boy Rajen Thapa. While Thapa is a resident of Atisha Road, near 8th Mile here, Sherpa hailed from Namche in the Solukhumbu district of Nepal.
“She was leading the team that summitted Mt Lhotse around 2pm and was on her way back when she fell into an ice-hole. Due to bad weather conditions, the body could not be rescued till yesterday. It is being taken to Namche, where the last rites will be performed. Everybody in our family was proud of her,” Amber Thapa, Rajen’s brother and a resident of Kalimpong, told The Telegraph from Kathmandu, where he went today.
Pemba was the first Nepali woman to scale Mt Everest (8,848m) from the northern side in May 2000. She also climbed the mountain from the southern side in May 2002. The feat also puts her in the elite group of six women, from across the world, who have climbed the peak twice. Apart from being an ace mountaineer, she was fluent in about nine languages and used to run a non-profit organisation — Save the Himalayan Kingdom — which provides subsidised education to Nepali children.
Rajen and his wife also ran the Kathmandu-based mountaineering company — Climb High Himalaya — that organises trekking and climbing expeditions. Pemba is survived by her four-year-old daughter Sairani Lhami.
“She was generous, loving and a happy-go-lucky type. In fact, both my father-in-law (C.T. Thapa) and husband were very fond of her,” said Litika Thapa, Amber’s wife. The mountaineer apparently was a very infrequent visitor to the town and not many people knew her, she added.