Everest Heritage: Sherpa Adventure Gear Makes the Old New

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For centuries, Sherpas wore layers of heavy wool to handle the harsh Himalayan weather. Now, Sherpa Adventure Gear is bringing back Himalayan styles from the 1950s, but making them with modern materials.

Tashi Sherpa, founder of Sherpa Adventure Gear, had two uncles involved in the first climb of Everest. Da Namgyal Sherpa—far right in the photo above—one of the Tigers of the Snow, the elite cadre of Sherpa who trained as high-altitude mountaineers at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, pitched the way for Hillary and Tenzing Norgay with John Hunt. Ang Gyalzen Sherpa, who appeared on the cover of Outside's issue commemorating the 50th anniversary of the first Everest summit, was also one of Tashi's uncles. He was a porter, a man Outside called an unsung hero.

That idea, of Everest's unsung heros inspired Tashi Sherpa to found Sherpa Adventure Gear. “I was determined to keep our unsung heroes from disappearing into myth,” said Tashi. The company, which makes high-quality outdoor gear, is Sherpa-owned and Sherpa-run. This fall, Sherpa Adventure Gear is bringing back jackets that look like those his uncles wore in 1953.

The Thamserku Jacket, named after a cold, high peak in Nepal’s Khumbu, unites a durable brushed wool-polyester shell with 40 grams of synthetic insulation for stylish defense against winter's chill. $280; available September 2012.

Classic wool style makes another appearance in the Italian wool herringbone tweed Rabten Jacket. It’s durable, soft, and naturally breathable. $160; available September 2012.

Sherpa finishes all its jackets with a zipper pull of prayer flags—for your well-being and to bless the ground you walk on. And, a portion of sales go to a special fund for the underprivileged Sherpa children of Nepal.

Look for Sherpa Adventure Gear on athlete Dawa Yangzum Sherpa, 23. She is currently on the South Col of Everest with the Conrad Anker team. And she could become the first Nepalese woman to summit in the capacity of a working Sherpa.

—Berne Broudy