Mountaineer Nawang Gombu dead

Mountaineer Nawang Gombu dead

Gombu, 79, is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son. Besides being the youngest Sherpa to reach South Col during the first successful expedition in 1953, Gombu first climbed Mt Everest along with Jim Whittaker during American Everest Expedition in 1963.

He then set a new record when he scaled the world's highest peak again in 1965 along with Capt Awarae Singh Cheema as members of Indian Everest Expedition. The South Col usually refers to the southern route between Mount Everest and Lhotse, the first and fourth highest mountains in the world.

Other Himalayan peaks climbed by Gombu included Makalu, Sakang, Saser Kangri, Nanda Devi, Cho Oyu, Koktang and Ratong. Gombu was part of the first group of Sherpa mountaineers who along with Tenzing Norgay completed a guide course in Switzerland in 1954.

They became the backbone of the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), an idea pushed by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. He retired from HMI as its Director of Field Training after more than 40 years of service.

For his climbing and teaching accomplishments, Gombu was awarded Padma Bhusan, Padma Shree, the Arjuna Award, the Indian Mountaineering Foundation Gold Medal and the Tenzing Norgay Lifetime Achievement Award.

He also received the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation medal from Her Majesty and Hubbard medal from National Geographic Society. Former Director of Field Training of HMI, Dorjee Lahtoo said, "Gombu was the guiding force for the Sherpas as well as the
mountaineering fraternity of the country. His death has left a big void in the adventure field of India."

Born in southern Tibet near the famed Rongbuk monastery in Tibet, Gombu was the son of a former Tibetan monk Nawang Gyaltzen and former nun Lhamu Kipa. He briefly attended the Rongbuk monastery as a student but then moved to the village of Khumjung Solu Khumbu near Mt Everest in Nepal with his parents and sister Doma, where he spent his childhood.

After coming to Darjeeling later with his uncle, he became a high altitude porter before becoming a climbing member in many expeditions. Gombu's funeral will be held in Darjeeling on April 28.

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