All of us dream of traveling the world, visiting all these new places that intrigue and fascinate us. But, for many, that is what it remains, a dream, a very far-fetched notion that we can only imagine about. Sometimes it is because we do not have time, sometimes we don’t have enough money, and then there are hundreds of other excuses we use not to travel. But Dr Nima Namgyal Sherpa doesn’t let anything stop him from traveling. And that, he confesses, is because his work allows him the luxury of traveling.
Dr Namgyal Sherpa is the only expedition doctor in Nepal and he has not only traveled through the mountains of Nepal but has been on numerous international mountaineering crusades and rescue missions.
Hailing from the Sherpa community that resides in the northern part of Nepal, he spent his early years in Khumjung village in the Solukhumbu district where he studied in a school established by Sir Edmund Hillary. Sherpa took up many courses and trainings in various parts of the world including Nepal, US, UK and Italy before becoming a full time expedition doctor. He has a diploma in outdoor education/leadership, a wilderness first responder certification, a master’s degree in mountain medicine, a diploma in mountain emergency medicine, a mountain rescue training and he took up a pre-hospital emergency medicine elective.
Throughout his life, the expedition doctor has apparently lost a lot of loved ones to mountain climbing struggles. “I grew up in the mountains and the people around me were always into mountain climbing. But many of them passed away during their mountain climbing adventures because of minor struggles and injuries. Almost all of them could have been prevented or treated had they known anything about basic medicine and emergency treatment,” he says adding that this was what helped him decide on his career choice. He wanted to help people during mountain climbing to assist them in avoiding this awful fate.
Sherpa admits that the avalanche that took place in Mt Everest during the 2015 Nepal earthquake was by far the most traumatizing experience he has faced in his life. He talks about how a thousand people were affected by this avalanche and approximately 60-70 were injured. As the weather was terrible, no helicopters could fly up there and he and other expedition doctors had a very hard time trying to provide food and shelter to everyone. After a couple of days the weather settled down and the helicopters brought relief materials as well as some much needed equipment for the doctors to treat the affected people.
A little over a month ago, Sherpa also started his own institution in Thamel, Outdoor Adventure Center Nepal. The institution was established for the sole purpose of educating people on adventure tourism activities, the struggles of it, and how one can prevent or treat them injuries through technical and vocational training. He includes cycling, trekking, paragliding, and rock climbing under adventure activities. Besides wilderness medicine course, Outdoor Adventure Center Nepal also conducts workshops on immediate actions and emergency care, and managing basic and critical medical situations through first aid.
“Nepal is a beautiful country and there are a lot of beautiful places to visit but some of these locations are more than two hours away from health centers and hospitals. In these places, if anyone faces any kind of critical health problems they will not be able to reach the health service providers on time. So I have included ways to handle these situation in the training sessions as well,” he said adding that he is planning an official launch of Outdoor Adventure Center Nepal sometime during late December or early January.