“The Sherpa”

photophotophotophotoGoogle Image Result for http--ngm.nationalgeographic.com-everest-img-gallery-31-sherpas-750x500 One of the things that you may have gathered from reading my blog posts is that I live in guilt ridden hell. Growing up Catholic among other things, I have always tried to keep the peace around my house and also keeping the peace on an everyday basis. I am not a confrontational person and usually I would rather inconvenience myself to get the job done, and make sure everyone is happy. That is why I call myself – “The Sherpa.”

If you look at the picture of the gentleman above with the huge pack and the smile on his face, you will see an actual Sherpa. This tribe of individuals is indiginous to the mountainous regions of the Tibetan Himalaya and they are hard working folks who haul all the gear, tents, luggage for alpine climbing expeditions in the Himalaya. I am sure you have seen and read about these individuals and their feats of strength always amazed me as they made it to the summits with those tremendous loads that they carry. I have always admired the Sherpas and have read a lot about them. In my Walter Mitty way, I am a Sherpa. Take skiing for instance. When I was first married, my wife Janet skied but I wanted to make sure that she always came with me so I took it upon myself to carry her boots and mine in a backback. I hauled her skis on my shoulders along with mine and often walked to the lodge loaded down with equipment. Not that she would not do it, but I wanted to minimize inconvenience. When Jack came along, I bought a bigger pack and loaded three pairs of boots in the pack and hauled three sets of skis on my shoulders and asked them timidly to take the poles. I took it upon myself to help them with their ski boots in the lodge or if we had the opportunity to park near the trail head, I would help them put the boots on kneeling on the frozen ground to minimize any inconvenience or possible complaints due to the definite “pain in the ass factor”of skiing. The sport can be tedious at times schlepping all of the gear in the cold, getting everyone ready with the usual litany of making sure that we had all of the equipment. I was the equipment manager as well as the Sherpa and it worked out well even though I was sweating like a wild man before I took my first turn- even in arctic conditions.

Sometimes, my nieces and nephews would come along and the process became a little more involved with more Himalayan quality schlepps to the slopes. But the smiles were worth it and if there was any inconvenience experienced, I took care of it. Like when my son wanted me to take his socks off because he didn’t like them in the ski boots. I stopped where I was, got down on my hands and knees and took the socks off and he skied the rest of his day with bare feet in the boots. Taking the boots off at the end of the day, they were steaming like a cooling tower at a power plant. Amazing about kids but whatever it took for comfort, that was my motto.

Perhaps the ultimate Sherpa experience besides my family ski outings was the time that I had 13 visually impaired skiers to look after at the National Blind Skiing Championships( read about it in my post-February 17th,2013) I took two of our guys with me but because of weather and a lack of volunteers, I was put in charge of 13 competitors. Congo lines to dinner and the slopes were the norm and my Sherpa skills were sharpened by hauling all of their equipment to the slopes and making sure that I had it all in the van at the end of the day. All of this in below zero temps in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Sherpa family experiences did not take a hiatus in the summer. Hauling beach chairs, umbrellas, pack and plays, coolers, and all sorts of beach toys became a ritual in the early days of the McCloskeys at the beach. Things are a little better now that Jack is grown but the guilt ridden hell still pervades as I haul all of it into the garage after a trip just like in the old days.

One thing you learn being an aspiring Sherpa is that you get used to frozen fingers, bloody knuckles, balancing unwieldy loads, and doing it all with a positive, ” ain’t this great to be out here” attitude. My family likes to do the things that I do to an extent. But they are not as maniacal about the outdoor pursuits as I am. So I have always taken that into consideration as I try to make these outings as pleasant as possible. I am sure many of you have had similar experiences with getting the kids to the mountains or the beach. But I will tell you one thing, every loaded up day on my back was well worth the smiles of my family. Being a Sherpa has been well worth the while. Someday, it will probably be round two with grandchildren. I am hoping the back holds out. Otherwise, I may have to go to the Tengboche Monastary for some guidance by the Tibetan monks to encourage me to keep hauling and keep smiling. Thanks for reading.

16 thoughts on ““The Sherpa”

  1. Janet McCloskey says:

    Lol so funny! I loved reliving all those days and remembering all wonderful schleps we made together ! You are truly a Sherpa😄

    Sent from my iPhone

    Have a Great Day!

    Janet McCloskey


  2. Bill belch says:

    Pat very much down with the Sherpa way ,a great deal of my job as a plumber is pack in tools and equ. and pack out this done all day long .like you I have a great system to get everthing in and out ,a client called me a Sherpa leaving her home ,I was proud knowing the Sherpa history. Snow on !

  3. Pete Hilton says:

    Amazing Pat that you took care of those 13 blind ski racers – your a good man!

  4. Art Bonn says:

    Hey Pat, can you carry my skis for me? You’re right if everyone’s happy it’s a better day.Thanks for writing, really funny.

  5. Mary Jo Neff says:

    Loved this entry, Pat! You are so right: Catholic guilt never leaves us, but you are putting it to good use.

    • McCloskey, Pat says:

      Thanks very much Mary Jo. It is tongue in cheek but a lot of truth too. Thanks for following Mary Jo

      Sent from my iPhone


  6. MikeW says:

    Most auspicious family post!

    • patmccloskey says:

      Is that good or bad Mike?

      • MikeW says:

        That’s a word used in that part of the world, the Sherpas’ world. It’s good. When guys go up Everest with the notion of conquering Everest, it’s my understanding that is not considered an auspicious approach for its lack of humility. Whereas, where there’s a respect for the mountain that is more auspicious (conducive of good success or fortune) for the mission. Where there is respect and love in the family, that is auspicious for the family. There you go!

        From: http://www.sherpakyidug.org/sherpa/sherpa_facts.asp

        Q: What are the Sherpa “Tashi Taki” symbols?

        A: “Tashi Taki” is a Sherpa language version of the Tibetan title, Ta-Shi-Tar-Gye, Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism.


      • patmccloskey says:

        Mike. Thank you for taking the time to explain and show the derivation of the use of this word. This makes the post complete. More than I ever knew that is for sure.

      • MikeW says:

        Most kind. Thanks. All I had was a recollection of head knowledge from something read. Yours had the heart of it! That’s the greater wisdom. Look forward to following your adventures. Sometimes there are delays on catching up, but I catch up eventually. So many experiences from many quarters of the world. Maybe one day I will get to take a ski lesson or two from you.

      • patmccloskey says:

        I know one thing. I am going to buy your book.

      • MikeW says:

        All I can say is thank you; as a trainer of others, I hope you find what will help others, laugh through the parts you eclipse, and ultimately take what’s valuable as a catalyst within your own teaching and coaching and training life. Cheers to you and yours!

  7. g33k0rs.net says:

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added
    I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?

    Appreciate it!

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