Farewell to Yak and Yeti?: The Sherpas of Rolwaling facing a globalised world
Author: Ruedi Baumgartner
- - As small boys, we were very shy about meeting tourists crossing through our valley, expedition sardar Ngawang Yonden Sherpa recalls. But at their heels, we enjoyed walking in the footprints that their heavy mountain boots left in the muddy ground, just to experience under our bare feet the feeling of the profiles of their rubber soles and imagine walking in their sophisticated mountain shoes. - - That was in the 1960s. The Sherpas of Rolwaling Valley in Eastern Nepal still lived from breeding yaks and cultivating potatoes. They followed a seasonal cycle of transhumance from the winter settlement at 3,200 metres to the high pastures above 5,000 metres. Today agro-pastoral livelihoods have given way to a highly successful engagement in the globalised mountaineering tourism of the Himalayas, organised from an urban base. Th is book attempts to trace this transformation. Life stories, extended into reflections, allow the reader insights into the perceptions and feelings of the Rolwaling Sherpas regarding this profound change. - - Ruedi Baumgartner first visited the Rolwaling Valley in the 1970s in order to conduct his doctoral field research. He later assumed various longterm assignments in bilateral development cooperation. In 2008 he retired as Co-Director of Studies at NADEL, the Center for Development and Cooperation at the Federal Institute of Technology, ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He continues an active interest and engagement in development cooperation, particularly in Nepal.