Sherpa, International Mountain Guide, National Geographic’s 2008 Adventurer of the Year, Tiger of the Death Zone … There are a lot of words that go hand in hand with the mention of Pemba Gyalje’s name. The one that stands out most – hero. In theaters now is the IFC Films/Sundance Selects documentary “The Summit,” which recounts a fateful 2008 hike up K2, the second-highest mountain after Everest. In August of that year, 25 climbers from several international expeditions made their way to K2’s High Camp. Eleven were killed. Many of those who survived did so due to Gyalje’s bravery. Yahoo Travel caught up with the Nepalese native and was surprised by his response to “Favorite mountain?”
What’s something you never fail to pack in your suitcase?
My wash kit.
Carry-on or check-in?
Mostly check-in, though I carry on a very small daypack.
Window or aisle?
I love window seats so I can watch the view below.
What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
Good weather and good seasons.
The list of climbs you’ve made is impressive – Mount Everest seven times, K2, Cho-Oyu, Ama Dablam, alpine peaks in Nepal, Karakoram and the Alps… Do you have a favorite mountain?
Machapuchre in Nepal, which is known as Fish Tail. It’s very beautiful, but climbing isn’t allowed there.
What do you love about K2?
The scenery, especially the glaciers, is beautiful.
We’ve read that you’ve made it your mission to promote healthy climbing and mountaineering activities in Himalaya. What advice do you have for people who want to start mountaineering?
Prepare very well through technical training, physical exercise and be well-organized.
What’s a good “first time out” mountain to attempt summiting?
Any mountain around 6,000 meters in the world. There are some good ones in the Himalayas, South America and Alaska.
In the film, it’s mentioned that you love dehydrated foods. Ever try a food you wished you hadn't?
No, I like all foods and drinks.
Three artists on your travel playlist?
I like listening to folk songs from all different countries.
Where would you take someone visiting Pangkhongma, your village in Nepal?
Pangkhongma is very beautiful topographically and culturally. I’d want to show them my culture and the surrounding nature, so would take them to a beautiful monastery there that overlooks Karyolang (Peak).
You only get one more trip in your lifetime. Where will it be?
The North Pole and the South Pole.