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1 - R.G.M. WILLAN - Forestry issues in Khumbu

1 - R.G.M. WILLAN - Forestry issues in Khumbu - Khumbu...

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Khumbu - country of the Sherpas R.G.M. WILLAN R.G.M. WILLAN was Chief Conservator of Forests, Nepal, from 1962 to 1967, on an FAO operational executive assignment (United Nations Development Program). FOR MANY YEARS the highest mountain in the world remained unconquered. During the 1920s and 1930s numerous expeditions attempted to climb the huge peak called Mount Everest by English geographers but without success; at last in 1953 the news was flashed to the world that the New Zealander Edmund Hillary and the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had set foot on the summit. Long before this, however, members of the various climbing expeditions in the Himalayas had become acquainted with the Sherpas who live in the high country below Everest, a people of Tibetan origin who are believed to have crossed the high passes of the Himalayas into the region now known as Khumbu about two centuries ago. Used as they are to a hard life at high altitudes, the Sherpas offered their services as porters for the climbing expeditions and soon proved their exceptional stamina and cheerfulness under the most exacting conditions - so much so that without their help in carrying the expeditions' tents, food and equipment to the high altitude assault camps the successful conquest of Everest and other peaks would hardly have been possible. These Sherpas were recruited at Darjeeling in India, since entry by foreigners into Nepal was forbidden and all the early Everest expeditions had in fact to get permission to cross into Tibet and approach the mountain from the north. By 1951, however, with the downfall of the regime of the Rana prime ministers, Nepal was no longer a closed country, and permission was given to the expeditions to approach Everest from the south, from Khumbu the Sherpas' own homeland, which at last became known to people in the outside world. Even so, until the last few years almost the only people to visit Khumbu have been members of climbing expeditions, with a few botanists and geographers. But since 1965, with the construction of a small landing strip for light aircraft at Lukla by Sir Edmund Hillary and members of his recent expeditions, it has been possible for visitors to avoid the tedious two-week journey on foot from Katmandu and fly to Lukla in the valley of the Dudh Kosi, a day's journey from Namche Bazaar and Khumjung, the main villages of Khumbu. The Khumbu region Khumbu lies below Mount Everest, called by the Sherpas Chomolongma, literally "Snow Mother of the World," and known elsewhere in Nepal as Sagarmatha. From the Khumbu glacier on Everest flows the Imja. This joins the Dudh Kosi and the Bhote Kosi, rising below other glaciers to form the Dudh Kosi which runs southward from below Namche Bazaar and eventually into the Sun Kosi southwest of Okhaldhunga.
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