Former Bow police officer returns from Nepal mountaineering trip with life lessons
Jake St. Pierre left Concord this spring with a detailed itinerary and an ambitious plan to climb Mount Everest and scale Lhotse, its sister peak. He came back with a deeper understanding of the power of nature.
St. Pierre, a 36-year-old former Bow police officer, had planned to join a scientific expedition to gather climate change data and snow samples on the mountain ascent in April.
He and the American Climber Science Program team arrived to Everest base camp just after an avalanche killed 16 people, mostly Sherpas, in the deadliest accident in the mountain’s history. The avalanche killed Asman Tamang, a Sherpa St. Pierre had never met, but who would have guided his team’s trek up the mountain.
“We were sad . . . even though we never met him,” he said.
The group eventually packed up and left Everest after spending 10 days at base camp collecting some climate data, but mostly waiting.
Then, a few of the team members, including St. Pierre, decided to fly across Nepal to climb a different peak, Mount Himlung, located near the Annapurna Range.
There, St. Pierre’s team leader, John All, was out hiking by himself when he fell 75 feet into a crevasse, landing on a small ledge and narrowly escaping death. He managed to climb out over a period of hours, before calling for help. The team then called it quits.
“Life is short . . . it was eye opening,” St. Pierre said. “You learn from it, learn to be safe and to make calculated risks.”
Since St. Pierre returned to New Hampshire in June, he has been raising money for Asman’s family.
Before he left Nepal, St. Pierre got a chance to meet Asman’s mother and widow. “It was hard to know what to say,” he said. “Asman was a young kid, his dream was to be a Sherpa on Everest. This was his big break.”
Asman’s family will receive $400 from the government in death benefits, St. Pierre said, a sum he thinks is too small. In an effort to bolster the fund, St. Pierre started a campaign, selling backpacks full of Everest paraphernalia that he brought back to the United States.
So far, he has raised $500 that he plans to send to the family. “You do the best you can. Offer a helping hand – it goes a long way,” he said.
But the tragedies will not keep St. Pierre from climbing. This month he plans to scale Mount Rainier in Washington state with a few of his team members from the American Climber Science Program. He also hopes to bring a team of New Hampshire residents to Everest, to lead a climbing trek up to base camp.
St. Pierre thinks everyone should see Mount Everest – the tallest peak in the world – at least once in their lifetime.
“You just feel so small. It’s an eye opener into what your place is in this world,” he said. His group will appreciate the mountain’s power. “You never conquer Everest. It gives you a little opportunity to get the summit,” St. Pierre said. “In the end, the mountain always wins. It always wins.”
(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)