Mountaineer Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita has been named the 2016 National Geographic People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year for her courageous efforts to help her fellow Nepalis after last year’s devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake. She was selected from a group of adventure innovators whose extraordinary achievements in exploration, conservation, humanitarianism and adventure sports distinguished them in the past year. The 10 honorees were announced on Nov. 13, 2015, and the public was invited to vote through Jan. 31, 2016, for the People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year.
“I am very humbled and happy to receive this award, although I believe there are many other adventurers who also deserve it,” Pasang Lhamu said. “I would like to thank my supporters back home in Nepal and around the world, and I am very appreciative to get all of their support. I would also like to thank National Geographic for recognizing our efforts helping Nepal. Personally, I hope receiving this award will encourage more women all over the world, especially in Asia, to enter the mountaineering world.”
Pasang Lhamu is considered one of the best women climbers in Nepal. She played a crucial and ongoing role in relief efforts in Nepal after the severe earthquake in April 2015. Using her social network, she raised money to buy and distribute supplies, including mobilizing local porters to reach remote villages.
Since then, Pasang Lhamu has helped provide more than 10,000 blankets to people in need in the most remote communities in the Dolpo region of Western Nepal, which is experiencing a particularly cold winter, and guided clients up two significant mountains: 22,349-foot Ama Dablam in the Himalayas and 22,838-foot Aconcagua in Argentina. Her focus is on supporting and advocating for girls education in disadvantaged Nepali communities.
In 2014, Pasang Lhamu ascended K2, the second-highest mountain in the world and arguably the most deadly, with two other Nepali women. She was also the first female mountaineering instructor in Nepal and has worked as a guide in the Himalayas and around the globe.
“Pasang’s motivation, strength, compassion and humility have distinguished her as a climber and humanitarian,” said Mary Anne Potts, editorial director of National Geographic Adventure. “Her tireless efforts to serve her fellow Nepalis have made her a role model for women, the people of Nepal and climbers.”
The full list of the other 2016 honorees:
- Steve Boyes, a South African wildlife biologist and National Geographic Emerging Explorer, who led a team on a 1,500-mile, 120-day expedition by dugout canoe to collect data to help protect Africa’s wildest place, the Okavango Delta;
- American ski mountaineers Chris Davenport, Christy Mahon and Ted Mahon, who, this past May, became the first people to climb and ski Colorado’s 100 highest peaks, all with summits over 13,800 feet;
- Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, a pair of American rock climbers who spent 19 days on the side of 3,000-foot El Capitan in Yosemite to complete the first free ascent of the Dawn Wall, a seven-year-in-the-planning odyssey;
- The Afghan Women’s Cycling Team, a group of women in Afghanistan who have defied cultural taboos and endured harassment by riding bicycles with the goal of competing internationally, ultimately sparking a cultural debate about women’s rights in their country;
- Swiss pilots André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, who completed the first trans-Pacific flight by solar plane, flying day and night for five days from Japan to Hawaii without using a single drop of fuel;
- German long-distance kayaker Freya Hoffmeister, who finished her four-year solo journey in April to complete the first circumnavigation of South America in a sea kayak, a 16,700-mile voyage;
- Ben Stookesberry, Chris Korbulic, Ben Marr and Pedro Oliva, a team of kayakers who made a source-to-sea first descent of one of the most remote and treacherous rivers on the planet, tucked away in the jungles of Papua New Guinea’s New Britain Island;
- Wildlife photographer Joe Riis and biologist Arthur Middleton, who teamed up to chronicle the Yellowstone elk herd’s annual migration, using art and science to call on policymakers to protect the herd’s vital wilderness corridors; and
- American ultrarunner Scott Jurek, who capped a 20-year career in trail running with a speed record on the iconic Appalachian Trail.
To learn more about each adventurer through photos, interviews and a video, go to http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/adventure/adventurers-of-the-year/2016/.
National Geographic has named Adventurers of the Year for the past 11 years. Polish kayaker Aleksander Doba was voted the 2015 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year for completing the longest open-water kayak crossing of the Atlantic Ocean at age 67.
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