ExWeb profile - Serap Jangbu: 14 x 8000ers, the Sherpas' way
(MountEverest.net/K2climb.net) Early October, a Japanese expedition summited Manaslu. For Serap Jangbu, one of the guys carrying loads and fixing ropes for their Japanese clients, the peak became 8000er number 9 - and his third only in 2006. Earlier this year, Serap had already summited G2 and done an Everest traverse with Korean 14x8000er summiteer Park Young-Seok.

Speaking of summits…

Before this year, Serap had summited Everest one more time, plus Kangchenjunga, Annapurna, Shisha Pangma, Dhaulagiri (discussed), Cho Oyu twice, Lhotse twice – and K2 twice! Most Himalayan climbers could only wish for such a climbing record. But Serap wants more – he wants all 14 under his belt, and perhaps some recognition.

Born into a large family living by the shadow of Everest; Serap's climbing career has not exactly been sponsored by big companies. He is not a motivational speaker and has no favorite charities. This Nepalese climber is working as High Altitude porter for larger teams, mostly Korean.

Hitting Kathmandu at age twelve to find a job

As most Sherpas, Serap’s father and older brother worked with international climbing and trekking groups. Serap Jangbu only went to school for three years. “When I was 12 my older brother died," he recalls. "This threw my family in sorrow, but also in financial disaster, since we would have to survive only from my father’s income."

Serap quit school, walked to Lukla and took a bus to Kathmandu looking for a job. He would work as a porter and cook for trekking groups, carrying up to 45 kg. loads, and eventually became a trekking guide.

No climbing lessons

“In 1993, I got an opportunity to climb Everest," writes Serap. "Carrying loads from C2 to C4 at the South Col, I experienced dizziness and vomits for the first time – I’d never been at 8000m before.”

He got no climbing lessons but the advice from other fellow Sherpas in the team.

Serap was not on the summit team; instead he waited with hot beverages for the summiteers in C4. On descent, a female client gave him dry socks to warm his nearly frozen feet.

“I was unhappy inside about not reaching the summit, but the experience taught me many lessons. I continued on other expeditions and learned more about mountaineering. By 1998 I had climbed 30-35 peaks.”

Serap's first 8000+ meter summit was no less than Kanchenjunga's, with Park. Korean climbers remembered his name and, one year later, a team from Seoul payed his expenses and took him along to Pakistan - K2 was the goal.

Korean climbers opening the doors of Karakorum

The young Sherpa summited K2 not only that year (2000), but also 12 months later, again with Park Young-Seok. On the latter climb, a team member died on descent. Serap recalls the expedition returned to Islamabad deeply saddened after losing a man. But media waiting for them in town were not interested in tragedies - on the contrary, they cheered at the expedition's success: it was Park's 14th 8000er.

Then came Annapurna, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Everest... Unknown to the world's climbing community, Serap Jangbu was definitely climbing up the mountaineering statistics ladder.

In 2005 he attempted Dhaulagiri with a Korean team. Serap and the Koreans claimed they reached the summit. However, some other climbers on the spot reported the Korean expedition had not reached the real summit.

Everest traverse

Spring 2006 was the time of Serap and Park’s Everest traverse - a tough one too. “On May 11 at 12:30pm we set off from C3 on the north side and reached the summit at 11:00 am,” recalls Serap. “After half an hour praying for world peace, we continued down the south side. The route was not yet opened, so we managed to reach South Col without fixed ropes. It took us longer than usual due to bad weather conditions."

"Night caught up with us just below the Balcony and we proceeded down to SC with only one head-lamp. Since we didn’t have a tent there, we continued down to C3, which we reached at 2:00 am and, exhausted, we slept in another team’s tent. Finally on the next morning we started at 9:00 am and reached C2 by 11:00am. Snow-blind and very tired, we decided to remain there that day and reached BC on May 13.”

If I had sponsors...I could do anything

“By 2001 I knew I wanted to climb all 14 – if I could have sponsors I would do it! But it's a very difficult dream to fulfill for me: my family background is not strong enough to form [and fund] a climbing team,” stated Serap Jangbu.

Serap might never get the chance to lead his own expedition – more likely he will end up becoming the first Sherpa to summit all 14 8000ers, the Sherpa way: working for others.

Serap Jangbu Sherpa still has Broad Peak, GI, Nanga Parbat, and Makalu (plus maybe a 'confirmed' Dhaula summit) to go.

Story corrected on January 2, 2006: Serap Jangbu and Park were the first climbers this year to step on the upper slopes of Everest’s south side after they summited. But they were not the first persons to summit Everest from the north side.

Previously, a team of six Sherpas working for HiMex fixed ropes to the top and thus and achieved the first summit of the season. The Sherpa team led by Phurba Tashi summited Mount Everest at 15.05 hours, April 30.

Further climbers summited Everest ahead of Serap Jangbu and Mr. Park – such is the case of Georgian climber Bidzina Gurdzhabidze (May 10) and Americans John Bagnulo and Dave Watson (May 11).

Serap's 8000er summits:

Spring 1999, Kanchenjunga (with Park Young Seok ); fall 1999 Shisha Pangma. 2000: K2 and Shisha via the south face. 2001: Lhotse, K2, and Cho Oyu. 2002: Annapurna, Lhotse. 2004: Everest, Cho Oyu. 2005: Dhaulagiri (discussed). 2006: Everest (traverse), GII, Manaslu.

Manaslu fall 2006 summits:

Eight members of the Japanese Mt. Manaslu Expedition 2006 team successfully scaled the 8163 metre high Mt. Manaslu on October 1, 2006, according to Nepal's Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation. Summiteers were Japanese Yoshitomi Okura, 55, Takeshi Ogawa, 65, and Masami Yamanashi, 64, plus Serap Jangbu Sherpa, 37, Nima Tenji Sherpa, 36, Pemba Gyaljen Sherpa, 38, Ongje Sherpa, 23, and Nima Gyaljen Sherpa, 30.

Also Czechs Pavel Matousek and Zuzana Hofmannova summited Manaslu on October 3; Czech Frantisek Kolar summited on October 20, and Austrian Thomas Strausz summited on October 30.
 

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