Visit to the Sherpas, by Jennifer Bourdillon. London: Collins, 1956. 256 pages; ills. Price 16s.
The author is the wife of Tom Bourdillon, the Everest climber. While he was on one of the British reconnaissance expeditions, Mrs. Bourdillon spent the time visiting the Sherpas, that cheerful and energetic race who live in the foothills of the Himalayas and who have been so indispensable to the success of all climbing expeditions.
Her account of her life with them is a fascinating one. She was the first white woman ever to live entirely alone among them, and though in many ways she found them to be a primitive people, they were so friendly and hospitable, so interested in her and in helping her, that it was a most rewarding experience. Their country, of course, is scenically one of the most spectacular in the world, and their villages are almost all at elevations over 10,000 feet. Their lives are full of hardships and are governed by the climate and the seasons, by the stony and barren hillsides from which it is so difficult to gain a living—in spite of which they are among the happiest people in the world. Mrs. Bourdillon writes of all this in the most interesting and refreshing way. She describes their daily lives, their religion and festivals, their curiosity about her, and their loyalty to whomever they are serving. She lived as one of them, sharing their meager food, sleeping on the floors of their huts with the entire family, and frequently the goats and pigs too! She traveled from village to village with the help of Sherpa porters and so came to have a very thorough knowledge and appreciation of Sola Khumbu and its remarkable people, so simple and hardworking, so cheerful and gay. A very worthwhile book.