Ang Nima Sherpa has passed away. According to a statement posted on the Asian Trekking website, he died in his home village of Pangboche on January 25 at the age of 59.
For years, Ang Nima was the lead Icefall Doctor, a group of Sherpas whose job it is to find, build and maintain a safe path through the Khumbu Icefall each climbing season on Everest and Lhotse. The Icefall is the most dangerous section of the mountain and without the tireless efforts of the "doctors" it would be virtually impossible for most climbers to even attempt Everest or its neighbor. The team of Sherpas works early in the season to find a stable route through the dangerous section of the climb, located just above Base Camp. Using carefully placed ladders and ropes, the Docs create a route through to the other side. But the icefall shifts and moves on an almost daily basis, which means they must constantly check their route and make sure that it is passable at all times.
As you can imagine, this is an extremely dangerous job and more climbers have lost their lives in the icefall than on any other section of the mountain. In addition to being tough and hard working, these Sherpas have nerves of steal while operating in an environment that requires a calm presence at all times. Ang Nima Sherpa was the best of the best of these men and his leadership will be missed in the upcoming Everest season.
My condolences to his friends and family, not to mention the entire mountaineering community, for this loss.