Urken Lendu Sherpa (February 16, 1993 to January 21, 2021)
The National Geographic Society is saddened to learn of the sudden death of Urken Lendu Sherpa. Urken has been part of the National Geographic community for 2 years as a member of our 2019 National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition. He was a dedicated leader and one of the strongest climbers in the Khumbu region of Nepal, completing five successful ascents of Mt. Everest.
Urken was instrumental in the installation of all five weather stations that were placed during the 2019 Everest expedition, including at the South Col and Balcony–the two highest in the world. He had an infectious, positive and can-do attitude, quickly becoming an expert in the assembly of the weather stations and working tirelessly to ensure that their emplacement was successful. Urken also led the efforts to secure the two highest weather stations to bedrock and was invaluable in the safe return of all the expedition team members. During the 2019 Everest Expedition, Urken voiced considerable concern about the long lines of climbers at the summit of Mt. Everest and advocated for stopping just short of the Summit – at the Balcony – in order to safely install the highest weather stations. This decision possibly saved the lives of his expedition team members while also ensuring the highest weather station in the world was safely installed.
Recently, Urken completed an all-Sherpa first ascent of 5,725m Luza Peak in the Khumbu region of Nepal alongside partners Pemba Sharwa Sherpa and Lakpa Gyaljen Sherpa—an expedition that made national headlines.
Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to his friends and family, including his brother Tenzing Gyalzen Sherpa, who managed Everest Base Camp during the 2019 Expedition. Urken left an indelible mark on us at the National Geographic Society and he will be greatly missed.