WILD YAK Story
The WILD YAK story – “it’s about love, passion and compassion”
The WILD YAK story is about two people who fell in love and fulfilled their dreams: the story of Andrea Zimmermann, a young Swiss woman with an open mind and big ambitions, and Norbu Sherpa, a young, 7-time successful Everest climber, who has attained the title of Sirdar (i.e. the leader of the Climbing Sherpas), and a man with a strong will.
Creation of WILD YAK EXPEDITIONS
It all started on an expedition in 2011 when Andrea Zimmermann was part of a team attempting to summit Cho Oyu, her first 8000-er. The young Sirdar Norbu Sherpa was leading the expedition. Andrea challenged herself, trying to climb alone. Just before reaching the summit and in the middle of the night, she had to turn back because of stomach problems. But it was an adventure that changed both of their lives. Norbu and Andrea got to know each other and started to fall in love. They realized how much they had in common, despite coming from two different cultures. They were both attracted by the Himalayan mountains, by the spirit to achieve what is important to them and to go their own way. They got to know each other better and learned more and more about Switzerland and Nepal’s different cultures. They experienced the differences and the difficulties of each way of life. Still, they also saw the positive aspects of both cultures and started to make the best of them. Slowly and gradually, their way of being together and their way of life began to evolve – and with it their big dream – WILD YAK EXPEDITIONS: the dream to start a business embodying their philosophy, as well as to bring the mountains, the adventures, the culture, and the beauty of the Himalayas to the people in western cultures. Thus, WILD YAK EXPEDITIONS was born in 2014.
“The Butterfly Help Project” and Earthquake
The same year, something terrible happened among the Climbing Sherpa community. It was the year that 16 Sherpas died in an avalanche during the Everest expeditions season. After having also lost his best friend in an avalanche two years earlier, Norbu was shocked, not only to lose his friends and colleagues, but to see how the families of the deceased Climbing Sherpas were suffering and how their kids suddenly did not have the chance to get a good education that could give them a better future.
It was at this point that Andrea and Norbu founded the charitable organization “The Butterfly Help Project”. With the Butterfly Help Project, they decided to give back something to the country, the Sherpa community, the Nepalese people and especially to give children a better chance for the future.
In addition, they still had the same dream that had started to grow since they first met – to climb Mount Everest together. In 2015, they made their first attempt but were hit by the massive earthquake that shook Nepal that year. They fortunately survived and decided to stay in Nepal. There they saw first-hand the pain and the anxiety of the people who had lost everything. Instead of going back to Switzerland, they mobilized the Butterfly Help Project to build schools and support the local people.
Marriage and Everest
That same year, Andrea and Norbu got married in Nepal, which had just been devastated by the huge earthquake, in a traditional ceremony. Andrea Zimmerman and Norbu Sherpa became Andrea Sherpa-Zimmermann and Norbu Sherpa Zimmermann. Finally, one year later, in 2016, they stood on top of Mount Everest for more than one and a half hours to watch the sunrise, which celebrated their long-time common dream and union.
During the challenging time of COVID-19, they were able to develop and innovate by presenting a new side of WILD YAK in the Alps “ A first step to the Himalaya”. With their authentic experiences in the core of the Alps, Andrea and Norbu enable people to refill their energy by bringing them closer to the nature.
“It’s about love, compassion, and a strong will to achieve dreams and overcome struggles and hurdles.”
Norbu and Andrea know from the bottom of their hearts what it means to climb or travel in the Himalaya mountains. Norbu, as a Nepali, knows the strengths and the difficulties of its people, and knows what is required to be successful and safe on an expedition or a trip into thin air. On the other side of the coin, Andrea knows first-hand the dreams of Western clients on such an exciting adventure; she also knows what they expect from such a trip and can anticipate and accommodate their hopes and expectations.
Norbu and Andrea do not just want to make the dreams of mountaineers and adventurous travellers come true; they also want to give something back to Nepal’s people, who may not have the same chances in life. The key to everything is education to provide the children with a future, which is why Andrea and Norbu founded the Butterfly Help Project.
And that is also what makes WILD YAK EXPEDITIONS different – it is not just a company, it is a philosophy of life. Norbu, Andrea and the WILD YAK TEAM will prepare you for the adventure, whether it is an expedition, a trek or a cultural trip, in a way that nobody else can. They know what it takes to make a trip to the Himalayas successful and safe, and to ensure an unforgettable, enjoyable experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. They don’t just talk about it – they live it!
The WILD YAK story – “It is all about love, passion and compassion”
By Frank Senn Producer DOK Swiss National Television