Nepal’s Sherpa population has served as the backbone of the country’s tourism industry ever since the first westerners set their sights on Mount Everest’s summit. Despite the passage of more than 150 years, Everest and her base camp remain isolated, the rough terrain preventing construction of true roadways or railways. Crude “airports” dotting the region are utilized for emergency evacuations only. So Sherpa porters remain vital to the area. With hunched backs and braced knees, they trudge up and down the 60-mile Lukla to Everest Base Camp trek with four distinct types of loads: gear for Everest climbers, construction materials and furniture for homes and lodges, extra clothing for hikers and grocery supplies for local convenience stores and lodges.  woman and baby

As the porters are paid based on the weight of their load (NPR 100 – 150 a kilogram, according to our guide, a former porter), they fill their woven baskets to the brim and strap mind-boggling arrangements of sacks, bags and boxes to their backs. Both men and women, the very young and the extremely old shoulder these burdens.

Below are some of the most impressive loads we encountered during our recent 12-day hike from Lukla to Everest Base Camp.


10. A small child atop gear in a basket

9. A tourist’s guitar

8. Five sacks of hay

7. A hiker’s wheeled luggage

6. Two giant rolls of sleeping pads

5. Ten 4×4 pieces of lumber

4. Ten cases of San Miguel beer

3. Twenty plastic patio chairs

2. An entire stove

1. A side of raw buffalo, three flats of eggs and a carton of cigarettes