DAWA YANGZUM SHERPA
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON AND KATHMANDU, NEPAL
Dawa Yangzum Sherpa grew up in a Himalayan village with no electricity or running water, but by age 9 knew she would someday summit Mount Everest. She accomplished her dream at age 21, then went on to become the first Asian woman, and one of just over 100 women worldwide, to earn mountaineering's most elite title—International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations certification. Dawa was part of the first all-female team from Nepal to reach the summit of K2, and made a first ascent on Mount Langdung in her home Rolwaling Valley of Nepal. She’s also climbed Ama Dablam and attempted the 28,169-foot Kangchenjunga.
Dawa’s incredible journey began in 2003, when she left her village at age 13 without telling family and joined a trekking group heading over the rugged Tashi Lapcha Pass. She carried some 30 pounds of gear for six days to earn $20 for a plane ticket to Kathmandu, and spent five years living with her brother and caring for her two younger siblings. Her older brother—now a IFMGA guide and successful mountaineer—helped secure Dawa the lead guide position on a 15-day trek, which reaffirmed her goal of becoming a guide. In 2011, she graduated from the Khumbu Climbing Center—where she met Conrad Anker—and returned to teach alongside veteran mountain guides, including The North Face athlete Peter Athans. The next year, she joined Anker’s The North Face/National Geographic Everest expedition commemorating the 50th anniversary of the peak’s first American ascent. She was paid to help carry loads between camps, then was able to climb for herself. She summited on a bluebird day with athletes Emily Harrington and Hilaree Nelson.
Dawa started the process to earn IFMGA guide certification in 2013 and four years later earned the coveted title. In between, she guided on Mount Rainier for the National Park Service, summitted 28,250-foot K2, nannied in Denver and attempted Nepal’s Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest peak. Dawa Yangzum now splits her time between the United States and Nepal, guiding on Mount Rainier and Mount Baker in the summer.
First Ascent on Mt. Cheki (6200m), 2010
Youngest female on K2, 2014
First winter ascent on Mt. Langdung (6357m), 2017
IFMGA Certification, 2017, first Asian woman
Makalu speed ascent, 21 hours, 2019
Annapurna 1 without oxygen, first Nepali woman, 2021
Manasulu, first woman to summit, Autumn 2021
Broad Peak, first Nepali woman, 2022