On Tuesday we announced our People’s Choice Adventurers of the Year and the news made the front page of every newspaper in Nepal. Out of twelve outstanding candidates, the popular vote went to Sano Babu Sunuwar and Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa. In the spring of 2011, the Nepali duo climbed Everest, paraglided down (and set a new free flight record), and then kayaked 500+ miles to the sea. A descent from the rooftop of the world to the ocean. They did it without corporate sponsors nor social media campaigns. Instead they relied on each other, help from friends, and a true spirit of adventure to dream big and go for it. Babu had never climbed a big mountain. Lakpa couldn’t swim and definitely didn’t know how to kayak Class V rapids. Here Babu and Lakpa talk about what they are up to next.
Adventure: What is the next adventure you dream of doing?
Sano Babu Sunuwar: There are many things I want to do next. Maybe I will try to compete in Red Bull X-Alps competition. This involves hiking and flying across the Alps. I’d also like to learn speed flying.
Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa: For me, now is the time for paragliding. I’d also like to learn to paramotor—I think it would be a good way to travel around Nepal.
A: Do you think more people should paraglide off Everest?
Babu: Of course, a new thing is possible, but you must learn about Everest weather and high altitude. Also you must learn about Nepal rules and regulation. This is important for our country. The national parks have rules.
Lakpa: Should people fly Everest? It’s up to them. I see many people who have a hard time just climbing up. It’s nice to fly down.
A: What advice do you have for young adventurers?
Babu: Real life is adventure. You must make a friendship with nature—this is true life. Everything is possible.
Lakpa: Do what you like. I saw my brother working in the mountains, I decided I wanted to, too. The Sherpa/porter life is difficult. The Ultimate Descent was a big adventure with many new things—this I liked. If adventure is something you want to try, why not?
A: How do you see adventure growing in Nepal?
Babu: Adventure in Nepal is small. Many Nepali people not know meaning of adventure. We have natural adventure everywhere. I think in time and with new generations adventure will grow among Nepali people.
Lakpa: Many people from all over world come to Nepal for adventure. In Nepal, we see adventure as work and normal life. There are many things to do here, and yet many Nepali people do not do them. Adventure grows every day. I would like to see more Nepali people doing big adventures.