Mingmar Tenzing Lama is a Sherpa born into a family destined to guide in the mountainous regions of Nepal. His father PK Lama has spent nearly fifty years as a trekking and climbing guide throughout the regions of Nepal and Tibet. His vast experience has been taught and passed on to Mingmar, who now owns his own trekking organisation and in his own right is a very experienced guide and tour leader. Focus talks to the Sherpa from his home in Nepal.
What got you into guiding treks?
I was born in the countryside of Nepal and grew up there. I used go to go to the weekly market and I would see Western people, and it made me want to learn English after hearing them talking to each other.
When I completed high school, I came to Kathmandu and went to college to continue with my study. My dad was leading trekking in Nepal at that time, so I had the opportunity to go on treks.
Later on I was very much attracted to working with foreigners and taking them into the wilderness. Then I got a chance to complete guide training from the Nepal government and became a guide. This is how I got hooked on trekking.
What’s been your best trekking experience?
My best trekking experience was taking an Aussie group led by Geoff Martin from road end to the Tibetan border then following the border to the glaciers. We then trekked several kilometres along the first glacier and camped below the face of the second glacier.
After a rest day, we climbed the face of the glacier and camped under an ice face on Noisy Knob. The sounds of the changing ice temperatures and avalanches plus a snowfall made for an incredible night. We woke to a temperature of -15 degrees and climbed along a glacier ice landscape to our final campsite before the Tashe Lapshe La (pass) where we camped on the glacier. Next day we climbed the pass at 6,200 metres. It was an amazing achievement for the Aussies, who were not experienced for this type of trek and was the most memorable for me because I had my dad with me.
Are you a self-taught tour leader?
As I told you before, I learned most from my dad. I worked with a few big trekking companies and attended some leadership training as well while I was working with them. I have experienced many things during the period of leading trekking groups. I would like to say I am self-taught and learned from others as well.
Being a head guide is a serious responsibility; do your clients know what they’re signing up for?
Yes, being a head guide is a serious responsibility. It is not an easy job. If someone reads the responsibility and working area of guide or head guide, it looks very simple, but in practice it is not that easy. Some clients may know what they are signing up for, but not everyone.
I think it depends on how they receive the information and their expectations. My job is to work out the strengths and weaknesses of the trek party and work with people to get the best result.
What regions have you been to in Nepal?
I have been to north, northeast and far western areas of Nepal. I have done 99% of the trekking routes in Nepal and more than 50% of Tibet trekking routes.
Apart from trekking, what else would you like to achieve?
I have always had an interest in helping my people. It was so hard to get the education required. I have now joined with Geoff Martin, and we are together sponsoring schools outside Kathmandu. We will improve the standard of teaching and education and provide some scholarships to selected students.
Top 9 with Mingmar
Name Mingmar Tenzing Lama
Profession Tour and trekking operator and leader.
Your scariest moment? Not happened yet.
What languages do you speak? Sherpa, Tibetan, Nepali, Hindi and English.
Food Nepali and Indian foods.
Music I like to play the guitar, but I am not very good. I love to hear soft, slow love and soulful kinds of music.
Movie: Generally I do not watch movies. I am not a movie person. I love to watch documentaries and comedy.
You’re suddenly rich; where would you live?
I would live in my country and work, spend money and time in the educational sector for poor people.
Thank you Mingmar.