Guiding Star


Guiding Star

In the best-known images of Edmund Hillary, he stands at the summit of Everest beside his guide, Tenzing Sherpa, broad grins filling both their faces. Indeed, Tenzing’s guidance was so crucial to Hillary’s 1953 ascent, and the bond between the two men so strong, that, famously, neither would disclose which one of them actually set foot on the summit first.

Today, should you undertake your own Himalayan adventure, you may also find yourself standing next to a Tenzing Sherpa—not the same one, but no less dedicated a guide. Not surprisingly, Tenzing is a very popular name among the Sherpa, and this Tenzing has served proudly as a guide for Mountain Lodges of Nepal since 2011.

The roots of guide culture run deep among the Sherpa, as evidenced by Tenzing’s history. “It’s actually been 18 years now,” he says in a thoughtful tone, “My father is also a trekking guide, so I used to work with him.” Tenzing’s gentle disposition and humble nature belie levels of confidence—and competence—that come only with years of the most thorough experience.

Even those of us who don’t go quite as far as Edmund Hillary, it’s good to know that when you book a trek with Mountain Lodges of Nepal, you reserve the services of a guide like Tenzing, who not only has exceptional knowledge of the environment, of first aid and emergency response; who knows the signs of altitude sickness, and how to relieve it; but beyond that, who can perfectly accommodate your needs and desires, including ones you didn’t even know you had.


If Tenzing senses you have a strong affinity for spectacular natural beauty, he will take off the beaten path to such magical locations as the Gokyo Lakes, which feature spectacular views of Everest. If you are energized by rich culture, Tenzing will make sure to leave you plenty of time at Namche Bazaar, where you can mingle with the locals at the market or observe a prayer ceremony at the monastery. Tenzing recalls one instance when a solitary trekker’s impulses took both of them by surprise: “After trekking for a while, she started to ask me about Buddhism. After that, we started to visit some of the monasteries in Namche, and the Thame Monastery where there is a nunnery… She was really into it. In fact, she decided that she wanted to become a nun!” (The two of them are still in regular contact.) 

What the Tenzing of historical fame had in common with the Tenzing of today is this: given the chance, he will get you where you need to go, whether your desire is to climb a physical mountain or ascend to new inner heights. No doubt we could all use a Tenzing Sherpa!

—Ray Olson