Apa Sherpa back in the Himalayas to spread climate change awareness
Apa Sherpa said back in May 2011 that he had climbed Mount Everest for the last time. The world record holder for summits of the tallest mountain in the world had just returned from his 21st successful climb of Everest.
But Apa, a native of Nepal who lives in Draper, has returned to the Himalayas, and he has his climbing gear.
This time, however, Apa is preparing for an extended marathon, rather than just the month he typically spends while attempting to reach the top of the world.
Apa will again team up with Dawa Steven Sherpa in a major expedition to promote awareness of global climate change, but they will do it while trekking more than 1,050 miles in an estimated 120 days on the Great Himalaya Trail.
The two men have become strong voices in the cause to tell the world what climate change is doing to the Himalayan Highlands. Apa said traveling through the remote areas of Nepal will also allow the men to share important details with villagers.
"They are living there so far away from everyone and out of touch of the world and not knowing the dangers," Apa said before leaving Utah last week. "It is important we help them understand the dangers."
Apa experienced the threat firsthand when his own remote village of Thame was flooded after a glacial dam broke. He fears similar events will continue across the Himalayas as global climate change continues.
The trek, being called the Climate Smart Celebrity Trek, departs Jan. 15 and is expected to promote trekking as a climate-friendly tourism that could bring money to poor villagers.
The two Sherpa men will be joined during their four-month endeavor by Saurav Dhakal, identified as a British Council International Climate Champion, and Samir Jung Thapa, a photographer.
Celebrities, dignitaries and media plan to join the trek in certain segments along the way to help promote Apa's causes.
Although the trip is not quite the same scale as attempting Everest, Apa said it will be challenging.
"They told me to do some training, but I didn't do any," he said.
"There are some places they are saying where there are no bridges and we have to cross high water."
The group, which will be aided by porters, will be reaching elevations over 18,000 feet.
If all goes as planned, Apa expects to return to Utah on April 25 at least that is what his current airplane itinerary says.
Asian Trekking, the company Apa has climbed Everest with in recent years, has asked if he would consider serving as the base-camp manager for this year's summit attempt.
Would his proximity to the mountain be too tempting?
"No more Everest for me," Apa said.