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Nawang Gombu Sherpa

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Nawang Gombu
Born(1936-05-01)1 May 1936
Died24 April 2011(2011-04-24) (aged 74)
Occupation(s)Sherpa, Mountaineer
Known for
  • Being the first person to summit Mount Everest twice (1963, 1965)
  • Being the first Indian to scale Nanda Devi in 1964
RelativesTenzing Norgay (uncle)
  • Tiger Medal (1953)
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal (1953)
  • Hubbard Medal (1963)
  • Padma Shri (1964)
  • Padma Bhushan (1965)
  • IMF Gold Medal (1966)
  • Arjuna Award (1965)
  • Tenzing Norgay Award (1986)
  • 49th Independence Day Award (1996)
  • Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award (2006)

Nawang Gombu (1 May 1936 – 24 April 2011)[3][4] was a Sherpa mountaineer who was the first man in the world to have climbed Mount Everest twice.

Gombu was born in Minzu, Tibet and later became an Indian citizen, as did many of his relatives including his uncle Tenzing Norgay. He was the youngest Sherpa to reach 26,000 ft. In 1964, he became the first Indian and the third man in the world to summit Nanda Devi (24,645 ft). In 1965, he became the first man in the world to have climbed Mount Everest twice—a record that remained unbroken for almost 20 years. First was with American Expedition in 1963 as the eleventh man in world and the second was with Indian Everest Expedition 1965 as seventeenth.[5][6][7][8][9][10]

Early life and background

Gombu was born in the Kharta region to the north-east of Everest.[2] His early life was marked by the complexities of his parents' marriage. His father, Nawang, was a monk, the younger brother of the local feudal landowner. His mother, Tenzing's beloved older sister, was Lhamu Khipa, a nun from a family of serfs. The two eloped, causing a scandal, and for a time they lived in Khumbu, a Sherpa district on the other side of the border in Nepal.

As a young boy, Gombu was sent back to Tibet to become a monk at Rongbuk Monastery, an hour's walk below what is now Everest base camp. Gombu's grandmother was a cousin of the head lama, Trulshik Rinpoche, but the connection offered him no protection from the brutal punishment often meted out to novices who failed in their studies.[2]


After a year, Gombu fled with a friend, crossing the Nangpa La into Khumbu, where the first western visitors were beginning to explore the southern approaches to Everest.

He was the first man in the world to climb Everest twice with the Indian Expedition and American. No small feat as the record was not broken for a very long time. He climbed Mount Rainier numerous times and traveled extensively.

Nawang Gombu lived in Darjeeling, India, and spent his life at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute retiring as an adviser there. He had four children and a wife Sita who lives in Darjeeling.

Honours and awards

He was awarded Arjuna award[11] and Padma Bhushan[12] for his achievements. Gombu attended reunions of climbs during the 1950s and 1960s as part of the 1963 Everest Expedition Celebrations. In 2006, he was awarded the Tenzing Norgay Lifetime Achievement Award in the field of Indian mountaineering by President APJ Abdul Kalam.

Gombu dedicated his later life to the Sherpa community, raising funds and being President of the Sherpa Buddhist Association for the past few years.


See also


  1. ^ Melinda C. Shepherd, Nawang Gombu at the Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ a b c Douglas, Ed (24 May 2011). "Nawang Gombu obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  3. ^ "Veteran mountaineer Nawang Gombu dead". The Hindu.
  4. ^ Banerjee, Amitava (24 April 2011). "Mountaineer Nawang Gombu passes away". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  5. ^ "Indian Mount Everest Expedition".
  6. ^ "Did you know that 50 years ago 9 Indians held a record for climbing Mount Everest?". The Better India.
  7. ^ "First successful Indian Expedition of 1965-". Youtube. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021.
  8. ^ M.S. Kohli. Nine Atop Everest: Spectacular Indian Ascent.
  9. ^ "The first Indians on Everest". Mint.
  10. ^ "Nine Atop Everest". The Himalayan Club.
  11. ^ "Arjuna Award". Sports Authority of India.
  12. ^ "1965-1965, Padma Bhushan, Sports". Padma Awards.
  13. ^ a b "Padma Awards Directory (1954–2013)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs.
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Nawang Gombu Sherpa
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