Friends in high places
When not doing outdoor instruction work in the Peak District, Buxton Mountain Rescue Team member, Rob Wymer, a qualified UIMLA International Mountain Leader, takes on overseas trekking and mountaineering expeditions for adults and young people.
Rob was leading a group on a trekking holiday covering part of the Annapurna Circuit in western Nepal, when he met Dorje, who had been assigned to him as a Sirdar – the person in charge of all the sherpas and porters, and all local matters.
Dorje was born and raised in the Everest region. He has spent his whole life working in the mountaineering and trekking industry, and climbed on many of the 8000m peaks in Nepal and further afield including the Indian Himalayas, so he is well-known in this sphere of activity both locally and regionally. One of his claims to fame is that he worked with Brian Blessed on one of Brian’s attempts on Everest! Despite his advancing years, Dorje continues to work, even though his brother was killed in an avalanche a couple of years ago doing similar work.
Rob said: ‘I usually take out some old gear of my own to the places I work overseas, and give them to local staff, although weight limits on airline baggage restrict the amount I can take. On this occasion, I had just gone through the stocks of BMRT clothing when I found a new but ripped jacket. It was torn as a result of stitching-on the BMRT badges so was a reject really, but Mountain Equipment gave it to us anyway. Apart from the rip, the Gore-Tex jacket was brand new, complete with tags. Rather than bin it, I decided to do a makeshift repair with some gaffer tape and take it out with me. The Chairman thought it was a good idea too, when I checked if it was ok to have our team badged jacket on the loose! I didn’t know who I’d get as my sirdar – but they’re all deserving causes. I was just lucky to get Dorje!
Rob gave the jacket to Dorje at the start of the trek. He continues: ‘The Sherpas are a very gentle, distinguished and understated people, despite their strength and prowess in mountaineering. With this in mind I chose a quiet time with just the two of us rather than make a big scene of presenting it. Dorje was obviously very pleased to receive the jacket (I gave him a few other bit and bobs too), and was grateful in a calm and dignified manner. As a sirdar, Dorje’s risen to the level where he has a reasonable standard of clothing, but it is very old. I suspect he will cherish and look after his BMRT Gore-Tex jacket a whole lot more carefully than I look after mine!”
If you have surplus or old outdoor gear and clothing, and wish to donate it to equally deserving recipients, you don’t have to get on a plane to do so. It can be easily arranged via the excellent charity ‘Porters’ Progress UK’ who support porters in both Nepal, and in Tanzania for those working on Kilimanjaro and Mt Meru.