Mountaineer Nawang Gombu dead

Nawang Gombu, the first person to climb Mt Everest twice, died here at his residence this morning after a brief illness, family sources said.

Last Updated: Apr 24, 2011, 18:18 PM IST

Darjeeling (WB): Nawang Gombu, the first
person to climb Mt Everest twice, died here at his residence
this morning after a brief illness, family sources said.

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.

PTI