Born in Lukla, the starting point for most expeditions, Pasang Lhamu Sherpa Akita has always been interested in climbing. However, she didn’t actually start climbing until 2003, after attending college in Kathmandu. Pasang Lhamu has summited Everest from the Tibet side, Yala Peak, Nangpai Gusung and Island Peak. She has also traveled to Italy and France to take mountaineering courses, climbing numerous peaks while there. On July 24th, 2014, she and Dawa Yangzum were the first two Nepali women to climb K2.

Standing atop of K2 in 2014, when she and fellow Sherpa athlete Dawa Yangzum became some of the first women to climb the challenging peak.

In 2015 she spent months tirelessly aiding the tragic April 25th earthquake relief effort in Nepal. In early 2016 she was named the National Geographic’s 2016 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year.

Sherpa Adventure Gear founder Tashi Sherpa describes her best: “When people ask me “who is Sherpa” all I have to do is point to Pasang Lhamu. She is brave, gentle, compassionate and self-effacingly humble. Her climbs of Everest and K2 were difficult and impressive. But even more telling is the unending burden she took upon herself to carry blankets and bring warmth to thousands of remote villagers after the big quake.”

We recently caught up with Pasang and asked her a few questions about the significance of 2016 and her role as National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.

What did being named National Geographic People's Choice Adventurer of the Year mean to you?

It was very great moment for me. And I’m so honored because it has really encouraged young women to enter the adventure world. After receiving this award, I am getting more messages that the young girls are very inspired by my story.

When the 2015 earthquake struck, Pasang tirelessly devoted her time and energy to providing aid to those in need.

What were some of the highlights of the past year?

2016 was quite busy year for me. I worked as a guide in Washington's North Cascades, on Aconcagua in Argentina and in Nepal. I also received an additional award, the 45th International Alpine Solidarity Award in Italy. I was a keynote speaker at both the Telluride Mountain Film Festival in Colorado and the Kendal Mountain Festival in England. And I spent time in Nepal, attending celebrations honoring my achievement as the Adventurer of the Year. Everywhere I went, I met many amazing people.

Why do you climb?

My favorite part of climbing is connecting with people and nature. Climbing is also all about living for the moment.

What are you inspired to achieve in the future?

My ultimate goal is to inspire more women in the climbing community. And to support education for girls in Nepal and worldwide.

Pasang’s adventurous and generous spirit shines brightly through her smile, whether she’s climbing mountains or making new friends in remote villages in Nepal.