Since 2003, Jangbu has been on Everest every year (except 2020 because of the pandemic) sometimes with his own clients through his company Into the Himalaya Treks and Expeditions, and sometimes helping bigger groups. Over the years, he has seen many changes: modern climbing gear is lighter and easier to use. But more importantly, Everest itself has changed.
“The mountain used to be white, it was difficult to climb. But now, much of the snow has melted,” he says. The first expeditions nearly 20 years ago needed to secure nine or ten ladders along the Khumbu Icefall, these days two or three are enough. “After the 2015 earthquake, the Hillary Step near the summit collapsed, and it is easier to climb over it.”
What has not changed, though, is the way the world views ‘Sherpas’ who form the backbone of expeditions, and without whom most international climbers would not be able to get to the top.
“Yet, Sherpas still do not get the recognition they deserve,” he says, citing all the Everest films over the years which gloss over the contribution of Sherpas to expeditions.
Tired of being in the shadows and wanting to document what it is like to climb the mountain, he co-produced and starred in his own documentary, Mission Everest: The Legend of Sherpa Jangbu, chronicling his 16th summit in 2019. Besides Everest, Jangbu has been on top of Cho Oyu, Shishapangma, Manaslu, Baruntse, Ama Dablam and Island Peak.