Still, Kancha Sherpa explains, he has fond memories of the trek and is grateful for what the experience brought him: "I got good work, I got good clothing. It was good for me."
He enjoyed the influx of money that later flocks of foreign adventure-seekers brought to this town.
"Tourists are good for Namche. It's good for everyone here," he says. "When tourists come in, everyone gets a job -- porters, farmers, the hotels."
Kancha Sherpa's wife stopped his climbing days after a deadly 1973 avalanche. Now he lives the comfortable life of most Sherpas in Namche Bazaar, with one son in Seattle and the other in Denmark. These days, the Sherpa people rarely serve as guides and instead own the scores of lodges that dot this village.
Though he is worried about the health of the Himalayas, Kancha Sherpa says he is more concerned about the continued livelihood of his community. Fifty years from now, he predicts, the snow will all but disappear from Everest. Yet that appears to be the price the town must pay.
"It's going to be no more snow, only rock," he says. But, Kancha Sherpa adds, "If we stop the tourists to save the mountains, we don't have anything to do. Just grow potatoes and eat and sit."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500