MARK SIREK Administrator Posts: 306
edited March 25 in THE GEAR LAB

Words and Photos by Ang Tshering Lama and HMG

While it may sure seem like packs made for mountaineering expeditions above 8k meters is unchartered territory for Hyperlite Mountain Gear, a handful of explorers over the years have keenly observed what thousands of backpackers and climbers have achieved with our packs from sea level to heights where you can still maybe kinda make out a treeline, and rightly assumed that our focus on balancing weight with durability and versatility could prove useful closer to the sun as well. One such adventurer is High-Altitude Mountain Guide, Ang Tshering Lama. Years ago, he reached out to our founder and CEO, Mike St. Pierre, got himself a pack, and began a friendship and collaboration that led us to today and the Halka 55 and 70 ("Halka" means "light" in Nepali). We reached out to get the story from the man himself.

What is your name, and where do you call home?

My name is Ang Tshering Lama, and I call Nepal my home.

Tell us a bit about the environment where you live – what is your relationship with the land, weather, and your community?

I come from a Tamang/Sherpa ethnic group in Nepal. As a kid, I was sent to India for my education as the education there was better than here in Nepal in those days. I completed my engineering degree in India, and then I returned home. But my love of the mountains, people, and nature was so strong that I left my engineering career and chose mountains. And this is how I was involved in hiking and climbing. Later, I made it my profession. I probably spend about 7-8 months in the mountains, climbing and guiding. 

When did you start exploring the mountains and chasing summits? Have they always been a part of where you wanted to be?

Most of my time is spent in the mountains, guiding and trekking in the remote places of the Himalayas.

We are from the mountains, but as for my guiding career, it started in the early 90s by trekking in remote terrain and later when I started climbing 6000-meter peaks in the mid-'90s. I finished my engineering degree in 1991, worked in that role for a couple of years, and then quit. As a kid, I was always outdoors, so it didn't take long for that transition to happen, as my mind was always in the mountains.

How did your guiding life unfold? What were some of your earliest trips?

Some of the first trips I did were trekking into the Langtang Valley, Annapurnas, and Everest Base Camp. 

Now that you've been at this for a while, do you still approach each ascent with the same excitement, caution, or fear? What has changed over time?

Yes, I'm still excited to get back to the mountains, even though I have done that many times. But what excites me most is when I am going to an unknown place for the first time. Yes, things have changed a lot here in the Nepal Himalayas. We started with camping trips, but now the tea houses have developed in many popular places and many roads have been built.

Do you have a favorite ascent you've done? What made it special? 

One of my favorites is Denali, by far. It's been a special place for me. Its remoteness, the weather, and the challenges make it special. 

Tell us about the work involved in a typical climb–how do you and your team prepare? What is required of you to help the clients achieve their goals?

As for a typical climb, I own my own outfit called Ang’s Himalayan Adventures. We are not big. We are small and like it that way. We love to climb ourselves as much as our clients want to. That's the reason we kept it small rather than growing big and commercial. I manage and guide myself on most of our trips, whether it be trekking or climbing big mountains. So, my team and I take care of our clients from the moment they land in Kathmandu until they leave the country. We handle transportation, hotels in Kathmandu, and logistics, including planning the meals and guiding in the mountains so they can have a hassle-free holiday and reach their goals. 

What do the environment and terrain put gear through on your trips? What does a pack need to carry and do to meet the demands?

On a big mountain, we go in through lots of gear like tents, packs, and all. We have everything from our shelter, food, fuel, climbing equipment, and personal gear in our packs. As for getting all these in the pack, it has to be versatile, strong, and light in weight. 

Why did you reach out to Hyperlite Mountain Gear to talk about building packs for your work?

In 2012, I had ACL surgery, and I could feel my knees with every bit of weight I carried up the mountains. It was in the States when I first heard about Hyperlite Mountain Gear–sometime in 2016. I had been using packs that were heavy. In 2017, I was getting ready for an Everest Expedition, and I needed something light, so I wrote to Mike, and he sponsored me my first pack. Like me, there are many mountaineers with knee problems, and hence, the idea to make a pack for mountaineering came to me. 

With your help, we designed and built the HALKA 55 and 70 packs–Thank You! What has your experience with them been so far?

Working with the R and D team was so easy, and the team is great. Even though we were so far apart, and we just talked online, they knew exactly what I wanted this pack to be. I have used many brands in my 30-year career, and I can vouch anytime that HMG is one of the best packs I've used by far.

I still have the first Hyperlite pack I took on top of Everest in 2017, and it's been up there five times now. 

What advice do you have for people wanting to reach the peaks you've spent so much time on? What should they consider before embarking on such a mission, and how should they prepare?

My advice to people who want to go to my kind of environment is to plan, prepare, know, and study about the areas. Do your risk assessment plans and train, and it's a must to get the right and comfortable gear.

What does this season and the next have in store for you, Ang?

This spring, I will be leading two clients on Everest, and I have about ten support trekkers to Base Camp for the climbers. I also have a busy fall season, mostly trekking in remote parts of Nepal. 

Where can we follow your adventures?

I am not that big of a social media person, but you can follow me on IG @angshimalayanadventures and on Facebook: Ang Tshering Lama Angantyr.