HENRY SIGAYRET, Sherpasig
Henri Sigayret is a symbol of the Khumbu. At the age of 40, he left his Western life to settle at an altitude of 4,000m where he founded a new family, financed electricity to his village and got involved in improving the living conditions of his new adoption country, Nepal.
He is also a renowned mountaineer, nicknamed Sherpasig, who achieved the first ski ascent of the Annapurna (the second in France after Herzog…).
His love for this country led him to settle there for 40 years, during which he fully invested himself : funding schools, climbing walls, etc. These facilities are intended to help the Sherpa people training to accompany high mountain expeditions.
We presented our project to him:
« PANGBOCHE, KHUMBU, NEPAL
Nepal, name of a small Asian country, 148,000 km2 and 30,000,000 inhabitants (France 645,000 km2 and 67,000,000 inhabitants). This country is wedged between two colossi China-Tibet and India, both have more than 1,300,000,000 inhabitants. Both are moving towards economic domination of the land.
It is located at the mid-latitude of 30° North. It is that of Cairo, that of the Great Deserts. Nepal is not a desert because it is subject to heavy summer rains, a monsoon phenomenon.
In this country the Khumbu. A region located at the foot of Everest, the highest peak on earth. Everest (western name). Sagarmatha (Nepali name, from sagar the seas, matha above, which dominates). Chomolungma (Tibetan name, from cho, religion, chomo gods, lung vent, ma feminizes gods into a goddess), her Tibetan name is therefore Goddess of the Winds.
And in this Khumbu a village, Pangboché, 4000 meters above sea level. Let’s not forget, Nepal thirtieth degree north latitude!
The cut-out of this country is astonishing, from south to north its lands range from 100 to 250 meters above sea level (the Terai jungle of Rudyard Kipling) to 8848 meters at the top of the roof of the earth.
Nepal is a mythical country in the eyes of a large number of Westerners. He is undeniably handsome. Its populations are on the whole smiling and pacifist. They are made up of Indo-Aryans (coming from the Caucasus steppes), and more than 100 immigrants, the Tribals, of Nordic origin with Tibeto-Burmese sensibility. The main religions of this country are Hinduism, Buddhism, shamanism, but the followers of these religions are often open to syncretism. To them are added a few Muslims, a few Catholics.
But a reality too often overlooked by visitors, Nepal is a poor country, the poorest in Asia, it is poorer than its neighbor Bangladesh, one of the most miserable in the world. He is subjected not to Western-style poverty but to lethal misery.
In general the sahib, the tourist comes to take long exotic walks, treks, the himalayist to conquer peaks, scientists, researchers find there many thesis subjects, … So many ways of neo-colonialism. All come to take, take. Very few bring. Fortunately, a few rare Westerners are not satisfied with these forms of theft. Some sensitive to the misery of men make it their duty to help this country and its inhabitants.
Tourism has brought to these populations its share of despicable, questionable things, which are part of this negative. For example, hundreds of kilograms of rubbish are piling up on the mountains, at the foot of them in the base camps. One solution, take them down to the lowlands. Yes, but what to do with it ? Hence the idea of a team of engineers from Grenoble to install an incinerator in Pangboché, this village of Khumbu.
Pangboché, I, a very old himalayist married to a Sherpa woman from this village, having resided there for a long time and lived more than 20 years in Nepal, I am proud to support their project.
— Henri Sigayret — 30/12/2020
Its original story inspired the director Christophe Raylat who shot a documentary about him, Sherpasig, 10 years ago.
Henri died in July 2021 after returning to France. This project is partly dedicated to him and what he has done for Khumbu over these many years serves as an example for us.