Climbing Everest with a Mountain on my Back: the Sherpa’s Story

Tue Jan 31, 9-10pm, BBC4

Stefan Fritsche

Amazingly, Sherpas have evolved a different genetic structure to other humans as a result of their exposure to high altitude. This makes them ideal for the job with which we generally associate them: holding the hands (and tents, and North Face jackets, and video cameras) of adventurous tourists as they attempt to climb Everest. But what are the Sherpas actually like?

This documentary is gently satisfying rather than revelatory: Sherpas are many things, but God’s gift to storytelling they are not – quiet stoicism is more their deal, and that isn’t going to change on account of a BBC camera crew. However, the four men we meet are thoroughly likeable – tough, warm and utterly dependable. Perhaps the biggest clue comes from their children. Gelu’s kids do a four-and-a-half hour round trip, on foot, every day in order to get an education, so mountains are probably just the logical next step.

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