THE SHERPA HERITAGE HOUSE - A LIVING MUSEUM
This exciting project has only been made possible through the vision of Pertemba Sherpa who is prepared to hand over his historic family home to be transformed into a living museum, conserving almost vanished Sherpa traditions for future generations of all nations. The House will be put into a Community Trust, administered by Pertemba and his family, along with village elders, for the benefit of the whole community at Khumjung.
Pertemba has climbed to the summit of Mt Everest three times by two different routes - along the South West Face in 1975 (with Doug), again in 1979 and by the South East Ridge in 1985 with sir Chris Bonington. Pertemba was greatly honoured to be chosen as guide to HRH Prince Charles through the Annapurna region on the Prince's first trek in Nepal. He is now a Member of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, the Himalayan Trust (which runs 20 schools and various health facilities) and is a Director of a number of Japanese and French Foundations that provide funds for the education of children of deceased Sherpa mountaineers.
Where is Khumjung?
Khumjung, is a remote village at 3,900 m in the Solukhumbu District in north-east Nepal, located in the Khumbu region inside the Sagarmatha National Park, a world heritage site. The towering peak of Ama Dablam [6,812m] is in the background. Khumjung has avoided much of the tourist influence seen elsewhere in terms of the pubs, internet cafes and snooker halls. Now, almost all the houses in the community, apart from the Sherpa Heritage House, have been re-roofed with modern materials but the villagers have chosen a uniform green colour which gives the village a picturesque effect.
It was within this area that, for community as well as reasons of practical access, Sir Edmund Hillary chose to build his first hospital and his first school.
Built by his ancestors, the House is even older than many local monasteries and, being untouched for generations, is now unique among the Everest villages, where Sherpa houses have been radically modernised.
Pertemba was greatly honoured to be chosen as guide to HRH Prince Charles through the Annapurna region on the Prince's first trek in Nepal.
Following a successful appeal for funds ten years ago, supported by HRH The Prince of Wales who recognises the significance of culture and tradition, refurbishment took place at the beginning of this decade and the Sherpa Heritage House began its new existence as a 'living museum' with the traditional Gompa next door and a tea house. Visitors were able to witness a pattern of life that once intimately connected the Sherpa people, their livestock, their religion and the mountains.
Tragically, the 2015 earthquakes damaged the structure of the building which, at first, wasn't considered to be too serious, but on further inspection will require the dismantling of the Gompa to first floor height. Pertemba took the wise decision to dismantle the Heritage House to first floor level and store the stone and timbers.
The image gallery below gives an idea of how the outside of the Sherpa Heritage House and Gompa look in 2018 and the extent of repair work required:
In spite of the earthquake damage Pertemba has salvaged nearly all of the ancient household wares, goods and religious artefacts as well as storing the oral history of the region, cultural artefacts and records.
The house will be sufficiently large to accommodate educational activities, film festivals, exhibitions and live presentations and where old outbuildings stood a new photography gallery will be built.
The gallery below highlights some of the images of the interior taken by Doug when he visited in Spring 2018. There is an emphasis on the magnificent workmanship undertaken by Pertemba's family nearly 350 years ago.
Pertemba and his family not only arranged for the first floor of the original house, badly damaged in the earthquake, to be taken down he also ensured that all stonework and timbers were stored and available for the rebuilding.
The gallery below has an image of Pertemba standing on the stone in the area where the photographic gallery will be constructed together with the carefully stored stone. There are also images of the damaged interior as well as exquisite examples of painted panelling. The final image in the section shows the 'fire box' which linked the Gompa to the first floor of the Heritage House.
FUNDRAISING: When Doug and Trish Scott visited Khumjung with Pertemba in May 2018 they were accompanied by Cara Buchan, one of CAN's Trustees and an architectural expert in rebuilding work following natural disasters. It had originally been thought that the Gompa could be simply 'patched' up but Cara confirmed that the damage was much more serious. To ensure that this building, and the priceless murals painted on the wooden panels inside, can withstand future shocks it will be important to incorporate earthquake resilient features into the structure.
The repairs were costed earlier this year at £185,000 but, in view of how much of the original materials have been salvaged and can be re-used the considered opinion of the construction experts is that the work could be completed for about £170,000.
The original Trustees of the project, including Sir Chris Bonington, Doug Scott and Maggie Burgess, were all mindful of safeguarding Pertemba's personal needs and future. As a result they have decided to settle £27,000 on Pertemba in exchange for the transfer of ownership of the Sherpa Heritage House to a Trust. Pertemba will keep ownership of the tea house to secure a future income for himself and his family.
The target figure to be raised, including Pertemba's "pension fund" is £200,000.
Through the extraordinary generosity of supporters who have a love of Nepal £146,000 has already been donated so the next stage of fund raising begins to raise a further £54,000 in anticipation that work can start after the monsoon in September this year.
The reconstruction work will be overseen by CAN and consultancy input from CAN's Trustees, Glyn Utting and Cara Buchan - construction specialists from WYG in Leeds.
Donations to support this important and exciting project can be made through CAN - all donations will be ring-fenced for this project - and full details of How to Donate can be found here.