Many Sherpas Have Gone Up Everest. He May Be the First to
Crawl Down Manhattan.
Photographs by Tyler Hicks/The New York Times
L. G. Khambache Sherpa, 41, a Brooklyn cab driver, practices his technique near home. He plans to begin crawling across
By COREY KILGANNON
Published: May 29, 2005
As a cabdriver, L. G. Khambache Sherpa, 41, of Brooklyn, shepherds people all over New York City, which is
sort of fitting because Mr. Sherpa comes from a Nepali community of Sherpas, those famously trustworthy
mountaineers known for accompanying climbers to the top of Mount Everest.
Mr. Sherpa is part of a family of guides, many of whom have scaled Everest. He has guided Westerners on
monthlong treks on lower sections of the mountain but has never tried to reach the summit, which has left him
with a case of Everest envy.
Tonight, however, Mr. Sherpa will embark on what he calls a comparable challenge: crawling the length of
Manhattan from the northern tip to the Battery and then to ground zero. He bills the weeklong trek, about 13
miles, as "an unprecedented act of human endurance" and is hoping to raise money for victims of last
December's tsunami and to honor the police officers and firefighters who died on Sept. 11. "I'm treating it like an
expedition because it's not going to be any different than an actual mountain expedition," he said. "It is the
closest you can come in New York to trekking. It's horizontal climbing."
He will begin at 8 p.m. today at the Broadway Bridge at West 220th Street and crawl down to Dyckman Street. He
will sleep there and then resume crawling at 8 a.m. tomorrow. He will be accompanied by a minivan and several
friends and will sleep at night in the van, which will be parked at locations he compares to base camps for
Since Mr. Sherpa is allergic to pollen, he will wear goggles and a heavy mask for the entire trek, making
breathing very difficult. He says he will experience the same breathing difficulty that Everest climbers encounter
at high altitudes.
He chose to start the trek today because it is the anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary's first ascent of Mount
Everest, on May 29, 1953. Sir Edmund was accompanied by Tenzing Norkay, a Sherpa.
Mr. Sherpa plans to crawl on the sidewalk along the west side of Broadway down to the Battery and then along
Trinity Street to ground zero for a ceremony Saturday that will include some of his Sherpa friends who have
He said he had a special attachment to the World Trade Center because in 1999 he and several other Sherpa
musicians dressed in traditional mountain clothing performed there. The event was taped by VH1 and billed as
the world's highest rooftop concert.
Mr. Sherpa, who is 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighs 159 pounds and is solidly built, said he had been crawling a mile a
day for several months, either outside along Westminster Street on high-pollen days or up his staircase and in
He says that crawling also shows humility, "a way to beg on hands and knees for peace and harmony." He has
several crawling techniques for different situations, he says. The fastest is a vigorous gallop he uses when
crossing the street. It looks and sounds like a galloping horse. In the hallway of his building last week, he
galloped short laps the length of the hallway, his sneakers squeaking against the floor.
Mr. Sherpa's wife, Saroja, 41, who is from Katmandu and works as a nanny for a family on the Upper East Side,
will join him at night.
"At first I thought he was crazy," she said. So did their two sons, who are 20 and 11.
"They don't understand the concept," Mr. Sherpa said. "The younger one is embarrassed his dad's crawling on
the street, but if I get on the news, I know he'll be saying, 'That's my dad.' "
Mr. Sherpa comes from a village in Nepal named Salleri near Mount Everest. He immigrated to New York in 1991
along with other Sherpas around that time. Many of them live in the Kensington section of Brooklyn where Mr.
Sherpa has a rent-controlled apartment on Westminster Road in a building that is home to about 30 Sherpas, he
He has worked mostly as a cabdriver. "The best place for spiritual practice is a cab," he said. "A cab is a temple
where you can practice your meditation. You need such spiritual discipline while driving a cab."
As for what he believes Sir Edmund would think of his trek, Mr. Sherpa said, "He's going to be very happy about