Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa was a Nepalese Sherpa Mountaineer, Guide, and Porter who summited Everest four times without supplementary oxygen. He came to the limelight in the mountaineering world as Sirdar for Scott Fischer’s Mountain Madness Everest Expedition in 1996, where the deadliest disaster struck the mountain during the expedition, killing eight climbers, including Fischer. Lopsang Jangbu survived the 1996 Everest Disaster. However, he was swept to death in an avalanche on Everest in September 1996. It would be his 5th ascent.
Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa’s Bio
Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa was born on 5th May 1971 in Beding, a small village on the bank of Rowaling River in the Himalayas. The place is famous as the village of Mt. Everest Summiters. This may be why Lopsang Jangbu was attracted to mountaineering from a young age.
He was the only child born to Mr. and Mrs. Jangbu Sherpa. Also, the sole breadwinner in the family. After picking a career as a mountaineer, he moved to Kathmandu and lived there with his family, including his uncles.
He was survived by his wife and a daughter, Lakpa Yanzi Sherpa, who was only five months at the time of Lopsang’s death. As reported, Lakpa resides in Kathmandu with her aunt.
At the age of twenty-two, Lopsang Jangbu Sherpa summited Mount Everest in 1993 with Nepali Women’s expedition in spring. That same year, he summited the 6th highest mountain in the world, Mt. Cho Oyu (8188m), with a Japanese expedition in the fall. And again, he returned to Everest in the winter of 1993 with a Japanese Expedition and reached Camp IV (7925 m).
The following year, Lopsang summited Everest again for the second time without supplemental oxygen. This time, he was with the Sagarmatha Environmental expedition in spring.
In 1995, he was hired by the New Zealand mountaineer Rob Hall, an owner of Adventure Consultants, for its New Zealand expedition in Spring.
That same year, he came across another renowned mountaineer, Mountain Madness Scott Fischer. He submitted Broad Peak (8,051m) with the party in the summer.
1996 Everest Disaster
Having already worked with Mountain Madness Scott Fisher, Fisher hired Lopsang for Mount Everest Expedition in spring to lead Sherpas as well as assist clients as Sirdar. The Mountain Madness team successfully reached the summit, with Lopsang spending three hours at the summit helping his clients and other climbers to summit. While Lopsang and Fischer began descending in bad weather, another expedition leader, Rob Hall, and his guide Doug Hansen ascended toward the summit. At the time, Lopsang decided to help Hall and Hansen to complete their summit and sent Fischer down the mountain.
After that, Lopsang descended to reach Fischer. Lopsang was then exhausted; on the other hand, Fischer was severely ill. Nevertheless, Fisher could only go for a while from the South Summit. Hence, Lopsang accompanies him and a fellow climber from another expedition, Makalu Gau. All three were caught in deadlines blizzard above 8000m for several hours until Fischer urged Lopsang to leave them and descend alone for safety.
Though other Sherpas rescued Gau, Fischer died high on Everest. The 1996 Everest disaster is one of the most brutal in history, with a death count of eight: two expedition leaders: Rob Hall and Scott Fishers, and other climbers: Yasuko Namba, Subedar Tsewang Smanla, Doug Hansen, Andrew Harris, Lance Naik Dorje Morup, and Head Constable Tsewang Paljor.
Meanwhile, Lopsang’s uncle Ngawang Topche Sherpa was also involved in the 1996 Mountain Madness expedition. After his health condition in deteriorate, a helicopter evacuation was done from Everest to Kathmandu. He was hospitalized with HAPE and tuberculosis complications. Sadly, he never recovered and took his last breath on 6 June 1996.
Hall’s client, Jon Krakauer, wrote a book about the expedition/disaster, “Into Thin Air.” However, his book dragged debate among the climbers on the mountains who were present at the time of the 1996 Mount Everest Disasters.
As per Krakauer’s book, Lopsang’s actions during the expedition came under some degree of scrutiny.
Before the summit, Lopsang carried up a huge back-pack which included 30 pounds of other member’s gear”. Also, he was alleged to have helped Sandy Pittman, using a “short rope” technique after Pittman offered a big chunk of money as an incentive for helping her to reach the summit.
Further, Krakauer described Lopsang’s vomiting as a sign of overexertion in his book.
Later, Lopsang responded to Krakauer’s allegation. About helping Pittman with a short rope, Lopsang explained he wanted any team member who was having trouble should be aided and have a good chance to reach the summit. Further, he added, he suffered from vomiting and fatigue each time he was in the mountain.
Lopsang States “I vomit. It is just something I do. It means nothing. I have done it on all successful expeditions, when leading or following. I did it at camps I, II, etc. For me, it has nothing to do with altitude sickness.”
Also, he questioned regarding summiting without supplemental oxygen. In response, Lopsang said he had already summited Everest thrice without oxygen and would continue.
What happened to Lopsang Sherpa?
Lopand returned to Everest in the fall of 1996. He guided a Japanese expedition, but unfortunately, a gigantic avalanche hit the area between Camp III and Camp IV at the South Col while Lopsang was on the ascent. Tragically, Avalanche took Lopsang, another Sherpa guide, Dawa, and a French climber Tves Bouchon.
Lopsang Sherpa’s body was never found.