Nepali Sherpas Working in Norway
Reporter: Cameron Custance – GNI
Every year, thousands of people from around the world flock to Norway to hike to some of the most spectacular views on the earth. Because of the high traffic, a lot of the wildlife and vegetation have been impacted because of a lack of a clear trail. According to the Research Council of Norway, “Vulnerable vegetation has a low impact tolerance and bad regeneration ability. Moderate impact pressure might result in a changed species composition, while higher impact pressure can ruin the vegetation cover, expose bare ground and lead to erosion.” In response to high traffic, Norway has flown in Sherpas for the past two decades to build trails to reduce the ecological impact of tourism. By doing this, they maintain the beautiful landscape and create great trails to walk on.
Though these men are some of the strongest people in the world, does not mean that this is an easy task. Because of the location of these trails, it is not possible to bring in heavy machinery. Instead, a team of 10 will have one jackhammer to break free bedrock while the rest carry huge slabs to put them in place. They take the big blocks of stone, using ropes to tie them to their backs and head up the mountain.
For a lot of Sherpas, this job is a very attractive and sought after. Not only do they get to travel, but it is rewarding financially. The Sherpas come for about five to seven months to work. It may seem like a long time to be away from family, but the wages make up for it. A few months of working in Norway is equivalent to up to seven years of wages working in Nepal.
But for a lot of these Sherpas, money is not the only reason. They are proud of their work and proud of being able to create history in Norway. Maybe one day their grandchildren will come to Norway, knowing their grandfathers made the very trails they walk on.
Photography: Gunnar Grimstvei