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In pictures: Nepal porters' heavy burden
Al Jazeera looks at porters facing steep odds as world celebrates 60th year of the first ascent of Mount Everest.
Last Modified: 28 May 2013 12:24
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Solukhumbu, Nepal - Twenty-year-old Parshuram Thalung finished school in the fifth grade. As the eldest of the seven siblings, he became a porter to support his family, thereby joining a legion of men and women in Nepal who literally bear the burden of every bid to scale the world's highest peak Mount Everest.

Carrying heavy loads up high altitudes - from tents to gas cylinders - the porters are the unsung foot soldiers behind every expedition. But sixty years after the peak was first scaled, they still rarely occupy the spotlight and their back-breaking hard work is barely recognised.

Porters are commonly exploited and discriminated against. The business is unregulated. The trade unions have eroded, and brokers now decide who gets to carry what and for how much.

Hiking the challenging terrain with the best mountain gear and a small backpack is exhausting - but porters often make the journey without heavy clothing and sturdy footwear, while carrying loads of 50-70 kilograms on average.

Some porters even carry large wooden planks that can weigh up to 150 kilograms.

There are legal restrictions, such as a maximum carry weight and a minimum age, but in reality, these regulations go largely unenforced. Their daily expenses hover around $11 a day, while they make about $14.

Many porters are pessimistic about their future, complaining that profits from tourism rarely trickle down to their level.


Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

Children as young as 12 often work as porters, although the legal minimum age is 16. They regularly carry loads of up to 70 kilograms.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

At times they are required to carry more as regulations are largely unenforced.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

In recent years, girls as young as 16 have migrated to Lukla near Mount Everest from nearby villages to search for work.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

Porters hit the sack after dinner at a shelter setup by Tyangboche Monastery. Sleeping in cramped rooms where they can hardly move is more the norm.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

Night shelters are mostly bare rooms with plastic windows, forcing porters to sleep on the floor. Some porters are still reported to take shelter in caves higher up in the mountains.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

A porter carrying LPG cyclinders takes a break at Tyangboche while returning from a campsite further up the Mount Everest base camp trail.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

Twenty-year-old Lakpa Chhechi Sherpa wants to summit peaks someday, and hopes the porter business could lead him there. But, he says, pay is very low, and he is worried about the job's effects on his health.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

For all the hard work they do, the porters make about $14 per day.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

Porters are often referred to as the backbone of the Nepalese tourism industry. Their work is essential to run local businesses, but they are often victims of exploitation and discrimination.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

The hands of 20-year-old Parshuram Thalung bear the brunt of hard physical labour.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

Wooden planks weigh from 130-150 kilograms, and their sheer size makes movement challenging in an environment where the air is thin and the landscape is rugged.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

Ang Dendi Sherpa, 16, is convinced that young people like him cannot benefit from working as porters. He is currently learning Korean and hopes to migrate.



Arpan Shrestha/Al Jazeera

Most porters are pessimistic about their future, saying profits from tourism bypass them.




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images:
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captions:

Children as young as 12 often work as porters, although the legal minimum age is 16. They regularly carry loads of up to 70 kilograms.

;*;

At times they are required to carry more as regulations are largely unenforced.

;*;

In recent years, girls as young as 16 have migrated to Lukla near Mount Everest from nearby villages to search for work.

;*;

Porters hit the sack after dinner at a shelter setup by Tyangboche Monastery. Sleeping in cramped rooms where they can hardly move is more the norm.

;*;

Night shelters are mostly bare rooms with plastic windows, forcing porters to sleep on the floor. Some porters are still reported to take shelter in caves higher up in the mountains.

;*;

A porter carrying LPG cyclinders takes a break at Tyangboche while returning from a campsite further up the Mount Everest base camp trail.

;*;

Twenty-year-old Lakpa Chhechi Sherpa wants to summit peaks someday, and hopes the porter business could lead him there. But, he says, pay is very low, and he is worried about the job(***)s effects on his health.

;*;

For all the hard work they do, the porters make about $14 per day.

;*;

Porters are often referred to as the backbone of the Nepalese tourism industry. Their work is essential to run local businesses, but they are often victims of exploitation and discrimination.

;*;

The hands of 20-year-old Parshuram Thalung bear the brunt of hard physical labour.

;*;

Wooden planks weigh from 130-150 kilograms, and their sheer size makes movement challenging in an environment where the air is thin and the landscape is rugged.

;*;

Ang Dendi Sherpa, 16, is convinced that young people like him cannot benefit from working as porters. He is currently learning Korean and hopes to migrate.

;*;

Most porters are pessimistic about their future, saying profits from tourism bypass them.

Daylife ID:
1369580372951
Photographer:
Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha;*;Arpan Shrestha
Image Source:
Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera;*;Al Jazeera
Gallery Source:
Daylife
Daylife Raw Data:
Porters in Nepalhttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951en-usAl Jazeerafeedback@daylife.com10Sun, 26 May 2013 14:59:33 GMTSun, 26 May 2013 15:10:09 GMTportersNepalEverest http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=08jI4WF7Sc6U4Minors as young as 12 years work as porters for local businesses. They regularly carry up to 60kg of weight, clearly violating both the age and weight restrictions.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:01:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=08jI4WF7Sc6U4Arpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesMinors as young as 12 years work as porters for local businesses. They regularly carry up to 60kg of weight, clearly violating both the age and weight restrictions. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=002E5xPf53fUaThis porter is carrying more than 200kg on his way up from Namche Bazaar as tourists pass by. Sun, 26 May 2013 14:02:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=002E5xPf53fUaArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThis porter is carrying more than 200kg on his way up from Namche Bazaar as tourists pass by. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=031Y2rHa4LgAtPorters who carry wooden planks suffer the most. Their load weighs anywhere from 130-150 kg and its sheer size makes movement challenging.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:02:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=031Y2rHa4LgAtArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesPorters who carry wooden planks suffer the most. Their load weighs anywhere from 130-150 kg and its sheer size makes movement challenging. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0ey4czB2KngaXIn recent times, girls as young as 16 have migrated to Lukla from nearby villages in search for work. Sun, 26 May 2013 13:59:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0ey4czB2KngaXArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesIn recent times, girls as young as 16 have migrated to Lukla from nearby villages in search for work. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=02Ti2Q81lcdgNPorters hit the sack after dinner at the shelter setup by Tyangboche Monastery. Sleeping in cramped corners, they can barely move. According to the porters, this is one of the sparser days.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:01:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=02Ti2Q81lcdgNArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesPorters hit the sack after dinner at the shelter setup by Tyangboche Monastery. Sleeping in cramped corners, they can barely move. According to the porters, this is one of the sparser days. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0dpO42I8bZ7e8A porter carrying LPG cyclinders takes a break at Tyangboche while returning from a campsite further up the Base Camp trail. Air gets thinner and thinner as altitude peaks.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:02:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0dpO42I8bZ7e8Arpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesA porter carrying LPG cyclinders takes a break at Tyangboche while returning from a campsite further up the Base Camp trail. Air gets thinner and thinner as altitude peaks. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=01TA61Z4y7bK0These minors who work as porters sleep at a local shelter. Shelters such as this are just a bare room with plastic windows, forcing porters to sleep on the floor. Prior to these sheds, porters took shelter in caves. Higher up the mountain, porters are still reported to do so.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:01:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=01TA61Z4y7bK0Arpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThese minors who work as porters sleep at a local shelter. Shelters such as this are just a bare room with plastic windows, forcing porters to sleep on the floor. Prior to these sheds, porters took shelter in caves. Higher up the mountain, porters are still reported to do so. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0cOnbH3bvW5tW20-year-old Lakpa Chhechi Sherpa wants to summit peaks someday and discovered the porter business could lead him there. He is worried about his health and says the job is really painful. According to him, the pay is just namesake.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:01:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0cOnbH3bvW5tWArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload Images20-year-old Lakpa Chhechi Sherpa wants to summit peaks someday and discovered the porter business could lead him there. He is worried about his health and says the job is really painful. According to him, the pay is just namesake. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0cXJekwcwj69xPolicies clearly restrict minors to work as porters but 12 year old children can be seen along the way carrying 40kg to 45kg load or more. Loads beyond 30kg are restricted only on paper.Sun, 26 May 2013 13:59:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0cXJekwcwj69xArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesPolicies clearly restrict minors to work as porters but 12 year old children can be seen along the way carrying 40kg to 45kg load or more. Loads beyond 30kg are restricted only on paper. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=05uZbtZcMT9A3Food is expensive up in the mountains. At a Porter's Shelter setup by the Tyangboche Monastery, porters are benefit from food and shelter. Meals comprise of plain rice with potato curry. They cost anywhere from 300 to 500 rupees ($3.38-5.64 USD).Sun, 26 May 2013 14:01:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=05uZbtZcMT9A3Arpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesFood is expensive up in the mountains. At a Porter's Shelter setup by the Tyangboche Monastery, porters are benefit from food and shelter. Meals comprise of plain rice with potato curry. They cost anywhere from 300 to 500 rupees ($3.38-5.64 USD). http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0aW44bY6uW0PRPorters are often referred to as the backbone of the Nepalese tourism industry. Their role is essential to run local businesses and tourism in general but they are victims of unregulated policies, exploitation, and discrimination.Sun, 26 May 2013 13:59:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0aW44bY6uW0PRArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesPorters are often referred to as the backbone of the Nepalese tourism industry. Their role is essential to run local businesses and tourism in general but they are victims of unregulated policies, exploitation, and discrimination. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0bDnclw4akgj7Parshuram Thalung, 20, fixes his load on the way to Namche Bazaar as the other porters carry on.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:01:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0bDnclw4akgj7Arpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesParshuram Thalung, 20, fixes his load on the way to Namche Bazaar as the other porters carry on. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0bR56GjfZla8aWhile the maximum weight allowed is 30kg, the reality is far from the case.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:03:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0bR56GjfZla8aArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesWhile the maximum weight allowed is 30kg, the reality is far from the case. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=03246hj3wz512On average, porters carry 50-70kg loads. Current policies restrict weight more than 30 kg and consider all ages under 16 as minors.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=03246hj3wz512Arpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesOn average, porters carry 50-70kg loads. Current policies restrict weight more than 30 kg and consider all ages under 16 as minors. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=03SjfUE60d7K1The benefits of tourism have not been shared evenly. Porters are commonly exploited and discriminated against.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:01:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=03SjfUE60d7K1Arpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThe benefits of tourism have not been shared evenly. Porters are commonly exploited and discriminated against. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=01VPgaYacJ0XnThe hands of 20-year-old Parshuram Thalung bear the brunt of hard physical labor.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=01VPgaYacJ0XnArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesThe hands of 20-year-old Parshuram Thalung bear the brunt of hard physical labor. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=02n4eX1bwW1etWooden planks weigh from 130kg-150kg and its sheer size makes movement challenging in an environment where the air is thin and landscape is rugged.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:03:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=02n4eX1bwW1etArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesWooden planks weigh from 130kg-150kg and its sheer size makes movement challenging in an environment where the air is thin and landscape is rugged. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0cSheIVh0O36bEvery step is to be taken carefully. Slippery slopes, twisted turnings, and the trail is rugged and tough to walk.Sun, 26 May 2013 14:02:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=0cSheIVh0O36bArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesEvery step is to be taken carefully. Slippery slopes, twisted turnings, and the trail is rugged and tough to walk. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=01NC2RqeOQg76Ang Dendi Sherpa, 16, is convinced that young people like him cannot benefit from working as porters. He is currently learning Korean and intends to work there. Sun, 26 May 2013 14:00:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=01NC2RqeOQg76Arpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesAng Dendi Sherpa, 16, is convinced that young people like him cannot benefit from working as porters. He is currently learning Korean and intends to work there. http://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=05jDcxsbDB0nYA trip from Lukla to Namche Bazaar and back usually takes three days. Porters eat and sleep at local shelters and their daily expenses hovers at 800 to 1000 rupees ($9.02-11.28 USD) a day. On average, porters make 1200 (13.53 dollars) a day. Sun, 26 May 2013 14:02:00 GMThttp://aljazeera.smartgalleries.net/gallery/1369580372951?image_id=05jDcxsbDB0nYArpan ShresthaAl JazeeraAl Jazeera Upload ImagesA trip from Lukla to Namche Bazaar and back usually takes three days. Porters eat and sleep at local shelters and their daily expenses hovers at 800 to 1000 rupees ($9.02-11.28 USD) a day. On average, porters make 1200 (13.53 dollars) a day.

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