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Yukta Gurung: A Journey from the Hills to the Highest Peaks

swadesh sandesh
Swadesh Sandesh 7 MONTHS AGO 434 views
Society Phurba Sonam Sherpa

Childhood and Early Days


Born on December 23, 1988, in the quaint village of Laprak, in the Gorkha District of Nepal, Yukta Gurung's journey is nothing short of extraordinary. Raised in a family of farmer shepherds, Yukta's early days were spent amidst the beauty of the Nepalese hills. His daily routine involved tending to cattle and attending school.


Despite the hurdles, Yukta's thirst for knowledge was evident as he pursued education until the eighth grade. At a time when many of his friends were considering a path into the Indian or British Army, Yukta's ambitions took a different turn.


The Maoist insurgency in Nepal during his eighth-grade years compelled him to make a bold decision. Uninterested in becoming part of the Maoist movement, Yukta fled to Mustang, where he found work in a hotel. The hotel owner had Promised an education but this commitment was not fulfilled. Then Yukta decided to move to Kathmandu to pursue his dream of mastering the English language and becoming a Mountain Guide.


Entering into Mountains


In 2005, Yukta took the first steps in realizing his mountainous aspirations by joining a trekking agency in Kathmandu, run by a fellow villager. Starting as a porter, he gradually climbed the ranks and became a Trekking Cook in 2007 and 2008. His true passion for scaling peaks emerged in 2009, and by 2011, at the age of 22, Yukta successfully summited Mt. Everest.


Despite facing challenges due to societal biases as he was not a Sherpa but a Gurung, Yukta persevered, and in 2015, he attempted Mt. Everest again. However, the devastating earthquake hit the whole country and the whole Everest region felt like real doomsday. Luckily, he was rescued from Mt. Everest Camp 2. After returning alive he just wanted to dedicate his life to volunteering in rescue operations across Gorkha. The epicenter of the earthquake was Barpak just a few kilometers away from his village. For Yukta, it still feels surreal to have narrowly escaped the clutches of death. 


In 2016, Yukta took on the role of Project Manager for the initiatives of building schools and health posts in earthquake-affected areas. 


Image: Naya Gau Laprak, Picture by: Yukta Gurung


The following year, he achieved a remarkable feat, summiting 11 out of 14 mountains above 8000 meters.


In 2022, Yukta led a rope-fixing team for the Manaslu Expedition, showcasing his leadership skills in the challenging world of mountaineering.


Involvement in Rescue Operations


Yukta Gurung's dedication extends beyond personal achievements. In 2022, he played a crucial role in the recovery of renowned mountaineer Nelson Hilary's body from Manaslu. In 2023, Yukta was involved in rescuing Captain Dipendra Singh Khatri from the treacherous South Summit of Mt. Everest. The rescue from that altitude stands as the highest rescue point ever achieved to date.


Heartbreaking Moment and Unfading Regret


Amidst the triumphs and rescues, Yukta Gurung's journey is marked by a sad chapter of loss and regret, intertwined with the fateful expedition of his dear friend Anna Guttu. Anna's last venture into the realm of the peaks was undertaken with Mingmar Sherpa, a cherished colleague and inseparable tent partner of Yukta Gurung since 2022.


Mingmar Sherpa was not just a climbing companion but among the best friends who shared Yukta's passion for the mountains. The bond between Yukta and Mingmar transcended the professional; they were friends who had weathered the challenges of scaling heights above 8000 meters together. Mingmar's unwavering love and preference for sharing a tent with Yukta spoke volumes about the camaraderie they shared.


Yukta Gurung with Mingmar SherpaImage: Yukta Gurung with Mingmar Sherpa, Source: Yukta Gurung


Their friendship, spanning over five years, witnessed more than 15 joint ascents of mountains above 8000 meters. The mountains were not just a backdrop to their adventures but witnesses to the deep connection forged through shared triumphs and challenges. Unfortunately, fate dealt a cruel blow as Mingmar Sherpa lost his life in the same tragic incident that claimed Anna Guttu.


The loss of Mingmar Sherpa, a close friend and companion, cast a profound shadow on Yukta's heart. The grief of losing not just one but two cherished individuals in a single incident weighed heavily on him. The mountains, once a place of solace and triumph, now echoed with the absence of familiar faces and shared laughter. It was an emotionally challenging period for Yukta, grappling with the void left by the departure of Mingmar and Anna.


The mountains, though majestic, can be unforgiving, and in their vastness, they hold both the euphoria of conquest and the sad reminder of the fragility of life. Yukta Gurung, resilient in the face of numerous challenges, found himself navigating the complex terrain of grief and loss, honoring the memories of two dear souls who had shared his mountaineering journey.


In the midst of sorrow, Yukta clings to the shared moments of joy and triumph. The memories of climbing together, the camaraderie in the tents, and the shared dreams on lofty peaks serve as a bittersweet testament to the profound impact Mingmar Sherpa and Anna Guttu had on his life. Their legacy lives on, not just in the tales of conquest but in the enduring spirit of friendship that persists even in the thin air of the highest summits.



Living for the Dream of a Good Friend, Anna Guttu


Anna Guttu's dream extended beyond the mountains. She aspired to support Yukta's village and its schools, envisioning a future where education thrived amidst the hills. Anna had raised $10,000 to aid the schools, students and teachers of Yukta’s village.


Laprak Village, GorkhaImage: Purano Gau, Laprak, Source: Yukta Gurung


Anna had wished to run two aid projects every year in Yukta’s village. Yukta is currently in the process of registering an organization, which will be a non-profit entity. The organization aims to uplift children and their education, schools, school infrastructure, local teachers, and local shepherds. 


The donation amount of $10,000, which Anna had provided, is already being used to pay local teachers in the government school appointed voluntarily, for school furniture. Yukta will provide more after the registration of the organization, as it is necessary due to government and local authorities' provisions.


Yukta is certain to ensure that the contributions this organization will provide will hold the legacy of Anna Guttu and Mingmar Sherpa forever. With a profound commitment to preserving their memory, Yukta envisions that the organization's endeavors will become a living tribute, echoing the dreams and aspirations that Anna held for Yukta's village. The goal of the organization will not merely to offer immediate aid but to establish a lasting impact, creating a sustainable foundation for positive change in the community.