With heavy hearts, today we farewell our friend and brother, Ankaji Sherpa. Today his spirits will soar to heights above Everest to a new world I know that will welcome him with love. See you in our next life brother.
Ankaji Sherpa (1978-2014)
Loving father of six and Himalayan Ascent Senior Guide
When Ankaji participated in the rescue operation for the 2012 Manaslu avalanche, I recall how torn up he was emotionally when he saw the avalanche debris. As I write this, I can't believe this has also become his fate during his 8th Everest expedition and 14th year of guiding. It was Ankaji's decision this year to take the responsibility of head guide rather than client personal guide, even though the position is less lucrative and holds no personal glory. With five Everest summits already under his belt, Ankaji wasn't a guy ever interested in personal glory. He always prioritised safety, particularly client's safety, and the team before his own personal ambitions. Ankaji was on what was meant to be a routine rotation to set up Camp 1 and 2 when the avalanche struck and took him from us. In fact, Ankaji was just being Ankaji at the time of the accident as he accompanied his brother-in-law slowly through the icefall instead of thinking of his own safety.
A local of the Makalu region, Ankaji started guiding when he was 22. This year at age 36, he beat many guides more than 10 years younger in age to win a competitive spot in the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations Aspiring Guides programme. This programme was his one personal ambition to formalise his extensive years of experience and love of mountaineering. His list of accomplishments included several 8000m summits (Everest, Manaslu, Cho Oyu, Shishapangma). His fitness was incredible, he was literally a lean mean fighting machine. Last year, after pulling off two fast ascents of Cho Oyu and Shishapangma, Ankaji came to give us a hand on Ama dablam with hardly a moments rest in between! He was an exceptional guide respected by everyone.
However, it was Ankaji's warm personality that really stood him out as a guide, friend and father. He was widely loved for his friendliness and team-orientated work ethic. It's countless the number of times clients expressed to me appreciation of Ankaji's caring nature when they felt unwell or fear during a trip. His kindness touched everyone who was fortunate enough to have known him. Undoubtably his selfless personality stems from his love for his family of six children (three daughters and three sons), whom he was raising almost single-handedly. For a guy who always smiled, laughed and loved life, you would have never guessed that life was in fact, less than easy for him. Ankaji wasn't just a guide; he was a good friend, supportive teammate, climbing buddy and a brother. We will miss you kaji.