Ngima Grimen Sherpa – A tribute
Within the last few days I saw some Facebook posts, that a Sherpa named Ngima had passed away in a motorcycle accident. As many Sherpa share the name ‘Ngima’ I did not pay much attention until I saw his full name listed again today ‘Ngima Grimen Sherpa’. I then looked more closely and recognised his face in a photograph. I double checked with our Everest expedition leader in 2011, Jamie McGuiness. Jamie confirmed this was the Ngima that had been with us on Everest in 2011.
I had the opportunity to get to know Ngima for a brief period only, in trying circumstances. Ngima was a climbing Sherpa on our team. I had little to do with early on in the expedition until one fateful day at the beginning of May. I contracted High Altitude Pulmonary Edema at Advanced Basecamp. It took a harrowing 11 hours that day to stagger the 19km down to basecamp, coughing up blood, gasping for breath and periodically collapsing through exhaustion. Ngima stayed with me the entire day and I wrote this about him at the time:
“All day long – over 11 hours, Nima was never more than one step behind me. Whenever I staggered or was about to fall I felt his hand on my shoulder supporting me. When I was too tired to move, he would quietly strap the oxygen mask over my face and sit beside for ten minutes until I regained enough strength to move. He fed me food and water. He never once complained or asked me to try and move faster. He was my guardian angel and the compassion of the man whom I hardly knew at all brings a tear to my eye.”
(you can read the full report here)
Three weeks later Ngima was assigned as my climbing partner on summit day. We left together from high camp at 8300m at midnight on the 29th May to attempt to climb to the roof of the world. I was still exhausted from H.A.P.E, half-frozen, and made the painful decision to turn back after only 30 minutes. Ngima once again was right behind me.
This year at basecamp I enquired if Ngima was present with any teams, but learnt he was on the South Side of Everest. Ngima was very handsome, with a warm smile which revealed his glistening white teeth. He was blessed with a gentle, caring disposition. He was very humble, patient and well-respected. A wonderful companion on a mountain. The way he looked after me when I was exhausted, sick and scared shitless is something I will never forget.
This short post, is a way for me to try to offer some form of tribute and remembrance to a wonderful man, a father, a husband, a friend, a climbing companion and a strong and brave high altitude Sherpa.
Thank you for all you did for me Ngima Grimen Sherpa. I am sorry you left us too early.