The Sherpa way: how Boulder’s first Sherpa is sharing his culture with the Western world

It was the 500+ technical climbing routs of Eldorado Canyon that beckoned Pemba Sherpa to Boulder 24 years ago.

Discarding his return ticket back to the Everest region, some may say Pemba was the founding father of the Colorado Sherpa culture. Establishing first an adventure guide company and then restaurant, Pemba dropped roots in the Rocky Mountain foothills.

Through Sherpa’s Ascent International, the expert has lead trekking, climbing and volunteer service trips in Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Pakistan, India and East Africa. He’s lead 45 trips through the Himalayas alone.

“I wanted to see the world and share things with others who have similar interests and passions,” Pemba said in response to a question asking how the idea for an adventure travel company came about. He views his role of adventure tour guide as a way to educate people about travel and the Sherpa people.

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Sherpa’s Adventures Restaurant & Bar’s shaded patio makes diners feel as though they’re on their own trip across the world.

“Sherpa is an ethnic group, not a porter. Many people do not know this,” Pemba points out. The reason people in this ethnic group commonly serve as porters on Mt. Everest is attributed to their long history of living at high altitude which comes with the natural ability to breathe and perform efficiently at high altitude. Sherpa porters are often mistreated in the bureaucracy that Everest has become, however, Pemba says the ethnic group is thriving and even leading the modern-day Nepali economy.

The guide’s aim is to lead trips to less traveled locations in the Himalayas, driving traffic away from crowded Mt. Everest. Pemba explained how more and more ill-prepared people attempt to summit the famous peak each year; causing congestion, not to mention endless safety hazards. The surrounding peaks remain less traveled and allow climbers to enjoy the views without the excess of other tourists. Sherpa’s Ascent International tours differ from other, Westerner-lead tours in the intimacy they offer. Pemba has been known to introduce travelers to his friends and family in his home town  in Nepal.

Pemba’s next dream is to be a professional mountain pilot in the Himalayas. With the unstable economy, he says, this would be difficult to do in the near future.

The adventure tour company’s counterpart—Sherpa’s Adventures Restaurant & Bar—allows for an arm chair (or dinner table chair, rather) tour of travels across the globe. Pemba’s greatest passions are reflected on the walls of his restaurant. Visitors are greeted by the head shots of Sherpas who have summated Mt. Everest and then make their way into Sherpa’s Traveler’s Library & Lounge. If the walls of the lounge could talk, they’d tell stories of heroic mountain ascents; they’d tell of journeys to Thailand, Bhutan and Pakistan, and could recommend the best Colorado trekking. The Traveler’s Lounge is just one of the features that make the ambiance of Sherpa’s so unique.

The menu boasts recipes hailing from Nepal & Tibet as well as a one-of-a-kind brew: Sherpa Ale crafted by O’Dell Brewery. The restaurant’s patio happens to be the largest in Downtown Boulder and makes its guests feel as though they’ve traveled halfway around the world.

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One of the several ice axes that double as a door handle.

If an international trip isn’t on your agenda, enjoy the Himalayas from the comfort of this cozy restaurant situated in the shadow of the Flatirons.

Check up on BoulderSource events for upcoming guest speakers. Sherpa’s Adventures Restaurant & Bar hosts adventurers, climbers, hikers and travelers who give advice and tell their stories.


For more information, visit or stop by the Boulder restaurant at 825 Walnut Street.






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