Phunjo Lama is more than what meets the eyeDaredevil mountaineer is equal parts fierce adventurer and loving mother.
Phunjo Lama embodies the strength of the mountains she has climbed over the last five years. The first woman to summit Mount Everest from Tsum Valley and Manaslu region in 2018, she has also scaled the sixth-highest mountain in the world, Mount Cho Oyu, without oxygen.
But, beyond her public image of a professional mountain guide and long-line sling rescuer, to witness her in a personal, intimate space, was an eye-opening experience. Having followed her for a month, it became evident this fierce adventurer had no qualms switching between daredevil mountaineer to loving mother.
Phunjo, born in Chhokangpaaro village of Tsum, spent most of her childhood in the rugged mountains with her grandfather Me Norbu. Together they herded yaks, dris (female yaks) and dzo (a yak and cow hybrid). Later, she trained in the Swiss Alps and Nepal’s Himalayas, and has since taken part in many expeditions around the world, most notably to Manaslu, Amdablam, Lobuche and Denali, apart from Mount Everest and Mount Cho Oyu.
One thing linking her personal and professional lives is her sincerity. For a person who spends half the year in the mountains, the bond she shares with her two children is astoundingly unbreakable and true; she makes sure she is fully involved every minute she is with them. Above her mountaineering, one can clearly see Phunjo’s discipline and dedication being instilled in her 11-year-old son Yongden and nine-year-old daughter Tenzing.
Being welcomed into someone’s personal space pays testament to the presumptuous fashion in which we judge people--while Phunjo seems to take on the mountains with military precision, she emanates warmth and love at home. She is a testament to not judging a someone on public persona or face value.
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