Since the birth of modern mountaineering, the term Sherpa has been used to refer to Himalayan men working as guides on expeditions in and around the area of Mount Everest. Known mostly for their remarkable mountaineering skills and expertise, Sherpas are much more than mere high-altitude porters.
The Sherpas are an extraordinary ethnic people who settled the remote valleys in the Himalayas about 500 years ago and whose culture is steeped in the rich philosophical traditions of Himalayan Buddhism. As distinguished British Himalayan mountaineer Eric Shipton wrote:
“ . . . the temperament and character of the Sherpas . . . have won them a large place in the hearts of the Western travellers. Their most enduring characteristic is their extraordinary gaiety of spirit.”
For three decades, writer and naturalist Frances Klatzel has lived and worked with Sherpas near Mount Everest. During this time, she has gained intimate access and a profound knowledge of the people, helping to create the Sherpa Cultural Centre at Tengboche, the largest Buddhist monastery in the region.
Infused with the author’s own reflections and experiences, and complete with colour photos highlighting Sherpa life from the metaphysical to the everyday, Gaiety of Spirit will take the reader on a magnificent journey toward a richer level of understanding of Sherpa culture, traditions, symbols, belief and history.