Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa is the fifth casualty of the spring season on Mount Everest, which concluded last week. On 3 June, Lhakpa Nuru died at Khangri International Hospital in Kathmandu. He would have turned 43 this month. The Sherpa died of cardiopulmonary arrest as a result of a severe High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE), according to the hospital’s death certificate.
Chhang Dawa Sherpa, board director of Seven Summit Treks, Nepal’s largest expedition operator, confirmed the death to me. Lhakpa Nuru, he wrote, had been rescued from Everest Base Camp on 29 May and admitted directly to the hospital, where he was treated for HAPE – in the end to no avail. The 42-year-old is survived by his wife and their son.
“He was a very experienced climber and this year also made the summit of Mt. Everest, on 11 May 2021,” Chhang Dawa wrote to me.
Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa was also called “Tate Lhakpa”. Tate is a small village in Solukhumbu, located at an altitude of almost 2,800 meters, opposite Lukla, the gateway to the Everest region: on the other side of the Dudh Kosi river. There, Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa was born in 1978.
In 2008, he summited Mount Everest for the first time. How many times exactly he reached the highest point on earth at 8,849 meters is difficult to reconstruct (because of the frequency of his name). The mountaineering chronicle Himalayan Database recorded three more summit successes of him, from 2011 to 2013.
Also on Manaslu, Lhotse and Annapurna
In 2014, Lhakpa Nuru was also among the Sherpas who accompanied Chinese climber Wang Jing on her controversial Everest ascent. After the Everest season in Nepal was canceled due to the avalanche accident in the Khumbu Icefall that killed 16 Nepali climbers, Wang Jing had herself flown by helicopter to Camp 2 and from there had ascended to the summit with her Sherpa team. However, according to Himalayan Database, Lhakpa Nuru was not among the three Sherpas who were at the top with the Chinese woman.
In the winter of 2016/17, he assisted Spaniard Alex Txikon in his failed Everest attempt without bottled oxygen. The chronicle of mountaineering in the Himalayas also lists five other eight-thousander successes of Lhakpa Nuru Sherpa: three on Manaslu (in 2014, 2017 and 2018), one each on Lhotse (in 2016) and Annapurna (in 2016).
On Mount Everest, four climbers had previously died in the past climbing season: a Swiss, an American climber and a Sherpa at or above the South Col (at 7,950 m), another Sherpa due to a crevasse fall during the descent from Camp 2 (6,400 m) to Camp 2 (6,100 m).