In this episode, we cover the untold and complex experience of local climbers in the Greater Ranges—how Sherpa, Baltis, and other local climbers have navigated the complex landscape of living and working on Everest and in the Karakoram. We sat down with three incredible writers—Nandini Purandare and Deepa Balsavar, who are the authors of the newly released book "Headstrap–Legends and Lore from the Climbing Sherpas of Darjeeling"; and also the well-known mountain writer Bernadette McDonald, who has recently released "Alpine Rising: Sherpas, Baltis, and the Triumph of Local Climbers in the Greater Ranges."

Though it's easy to lump these mountains together from a foreign climber’s perspective, these books cover distinct geographical locations that are deeply impacted by the politics of this region of the world. In conversation, these writers illuminated the unique challenges for Nepali, Tibetan, Pakistani, and Sherpa climbers from Darjeeling, as well as the shared challenges that all of these climbers have faced in making a name for themselves, fighting for safe working conditions, navigating the way colonization has impacted the boundaries of mountaineering, and more. We discuss topics like how Tenzing Norgay’s identifying as Sherpa when he first climbed Everest catapulted the idea of “Sherpa” into the limelight, how the Partitioning of India and Pakistan affects the work prospects of Darjeeling Sherpa, navigating relationships with foreign climbers vs climbing for themselves, and much more. Whether you’re a mountaineer yourself, or just have a passing respect for Everest, join us in this episode to hear about the deeply human experiences of individual Sherpa and Pakistani climbers, and how they navigate death, risk, financial independence and glory in the big mountains of our world.

Learn more about these two books and grab a copy yourself at!


We apologize but there are two or three moments in this episode where the audio was corrupted—we couldn't fix it, but we think the episode is great anyway! Sorry for the inconvenience!

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