Definition of Sherpa in US English:


nounPlural Sherpas

  • 1A member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering.

    • ‘The Buddhist Sherpas of Nepal declared they would preserve the world's highest placed monastery at Thyangboche, while an association of Shinto shrines undertook to preserve the sacred forests of Japan.’
    • ‘Excluding the deaths of Sherpas and porters, for which it was difficult to find accurate information, this added up to a fatality rate of 4.3 percent - at least one death for every fifth expedition.’
    • ‘Band was one of three climbers chosen by Hunt to lead a team of Sherpas up to camp IV and beyond to prepare a route up Everest's huge Lhotse face - above which was the South Col, the jumping-off point for the summit.’
    • ‘But in 1958 he got the chance to attend the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling, run at the time by Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who summited Everest with Hillary.’
    • ‘Unlike Americans or Europeans, Himalayan Sherpas consider high-altitude climbing to be decidedly unglamorous, dangerous, dirty work.’
    • ‘Sharing his views about the Sherpas, he says, ‘It is the Sherpas who actually reach the summit first.’’
    • ‘All the Sherpas are still with the summit team.’
    • ‘It falls in the month of July, when the agricultural work is complete, the trading expeditions to Tibet have returned, and the Sherpas are preparing to take their herds into the high pastures.’
    • ‘Everest also boasts a well-established support infrastructure of guides and Sherpas who set up tents, fix ropes, and ferry canisters of supplemental oxygen to the high camps.’
    • ‘Often inseparable from their association with world-class mountaineering, the Sherpas of Nepal inhabit much of the Solu-Khumbu or Khumbu regions of the Himalayas.’
    • ‘Another group that has carved out an occupational niche for itself is the Sherpas, who are well known as guides and porters for mountain-climbing expeditions.’
    • ‘Expeditions are not working as a team - they are generally individuals who have paid large sums of money and are being supported by Sherpas and guides to get to the top.’
    • ‘The yearly Everest expeditions offered by Adventure Peaks are unguided, with Mr Pritt acting as expedition leader to advise on weather, co-ordinate the Sherpas and get everything into place for clients to summit.’
    • ‘Until recently, Nepal's legendary Sherpas, who play a pivotal role in almost every ascent of Himalayan peaks, just watched from the sidelines as accomplished climbers from the West minted money with guided tours up Everest.’
    • ‘By the mid 1980s, Sherpas summitted Everest many more times than Westerners.’
    • ‘Nor do I begrudge the jobs that Everesting has created for Sherpas, guides, cooks, porters, and writers like me.’
    • ‘Guide companies hire Sherpas to put up the ropes.’
    • ‘Three Western climbers and ten Sherpas made it to the summit.’
    • ‘Today, Sherpas go well beyond their traditional duties of setting fixed lines at altitude and shuttling gear up unimaginable terrain.’
    • ‘My sister, Barbara, a specialist in the Sherpas of Nepal, was attending this second meeting, and I drove into town for a visit.’
    1. 1.1informal A civil servant or diplomat who undertakes preparatory work prior to a summit conference.


From Tibetan sharpa ‘inhabitant of an Eastern country’.