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Item #: BK4825-8593
HEADSTRAP: LEGENDS AND LORE FROM THE CLIMBING SHERPAS OF DARJEELING Balsavar and Purandare 2024 1st ed New Multiple copies available
By Balsavar, Deepa and Nandini Purandare
Price: $29.95


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Detailed Product Description
2024, 1st edition. 320 pp. Large Trade Paperback, New (only edition)

This captivating chronicle delves into the untold story of a tribe of Nepalese people who have played a significant role in mountain exploration and climbing in the Himalayas. Situated in northern India, Darjeeling was developed as a colonial retreat by the British in the early 1830s and soon became famous for its tea gardens, attracting locals from around the region, Nepal, and Tibet in search of work. 

When Darjeeling became the jumping-off point for early Himalayan expeditions, workers from the Sherpa and Bhutia communities soon established themselves as the preferred high-altitude porters, bringing fame, entwined with tales of valor, courage, and sacrifice, to the city. These are some of their stories.

Over the course of a decade, authors Nandini Purandare and Deepa Balsavar conducted a series of interviews with Sherpas from Darjeeling, as well as their family members, descendants, friends, and contemporary climbers. Headstrap weaves a vivid tapestry of this particular Sherpa community, giving them the recognition in mountaineering literature that they deserve.



A Note on Headstraps
All across Darjeeling and Nepal, porters can be seen carrying heavy loads secured by straps across the head. Officially called tumplines, these are known locally as headstraps, or namlo. During Himalayan climbing’s early decades, all loads were carried using the headstrap. Even today, porters carry loads up to basecamp this way.

There is no single origin story for the headstrap. Traditionally, it could be a strip of leather, fabric, or rope that was knotted, looped, or buckled around a load and worn across the top of the head. Although this technique is found in almost every culture, Sherpas are probably the most famous headstrap users today, using it to carry loads as heavy as their own body weight. Even when offered modern packs, they often prefer their cane baskets, called doko, secured with the simple strap.

Headstraps are known to be ergonomically efficient and physically healthy. They enable weight to be distributed evenly down the back and allow for lung expansion without restriction, unlike backpacks, which often restrict the chest. However, using them safely and comfortably requires years of training and spine strengthening.

About the Authors
Nandini Purandare is editor of The Himalayan Journal, a recognized global authority on the Himalaya. With a background in economics, Purandare has consulted for various organizations and is an enthusiastic trekker and reader of mountain literature. Visit them online at himalayanclub.org.

A well-known illustrator and storyteller, Deepa Balsavar has created more than 30 award-winning children’s books. Balsavar is an adjunct professor at IDC, the Design School, IIT Bombay. Visit them online at himalayanclub.org.

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