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Mingma Gyalje, aka Mingma G, is a man of his word. He said he would take the first winter ascent of K2 for his country, and he did it. He committed to put an end of years of controversy on Manaslu by reaching its true summit, and he provided, with no room for doubt, claiming “no more excuses” for future climbers. He is also a IFMGA certified mountain guide and, last but not least, a businessman fighting for his piece of the cake in the thriving expedition business. Part one of our portrait of Mingma, from a tough childhood to his precious high mountain guide diploma.

Mingma G is quite the character, quite far from the classic (often patronizing) perception of ever-smiling, kind-spirited Sherpa of superhuman strength and Buddhist detachment. Mingma G is tough, proud, somehow wild. He ensures he has learnt patience on the mountains, but he is actually quite fast to snap back, blunt to the point of aggressive, when responding to comments, critics or even questions he doesn’t like. Hyper confident, as accomplished alpine climber is meant to be, he might be not too empathic, except with those who gain his respect first. In an expedition, he is hardly the kind of guy who keeps you going through motivation and tender words, but rather the hard man to break trail and fix ropes to the top when no one else want – or can. He’s a captain rather than a coach.

His multifaceted climbing career, including

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