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Lowe Taught Sherpas to Love Espresso


Fifty years from now, as climbers are lamenting sit-down latte strikes from porters and Sherpas, someone will wonder where this tradition of supplying them with swanky coffee drinks ever came from. 'What do you mean they won't move until they've each had a double tall with extra sugar!!!??'

I believe I may have witnessed the beginning of it.

Boudda Sherpa
Boudda w/ Joe
Alex was an unabashed coffee hound and as such, brought over 25 pounds of pre-ground Peets coffee with him on this expedition. He had erected a coffee shrine outside of the main dining tent by setting a large, flat stone on top of a waist-high plastic barrel. We had all of the necessary accoutrements — industrial size 'spro pot, steamer, filters, insulated mugs and bags and bags of Peets.

Every morning, long before breakfast was actually served, you could hear the steamer going off as numerous cups were handed out. Even though the Sherpas originally declined, he'd keep asking them every day, 'Chippie, latte?' Finally, realizing that they were just being polite, he decided to make them a cup of Sherpa 'Spro — double on the coffee and quadruple on the sugar. 'Shall we send Boudda into low or high orbit this morning? High? Okay, one Sherpa 'Spro with a double shot of coffee coming up.'

At first this was just a novelty, but they ended up making a very important step in the last few days — they have learned how to operate the machinery themselves.

As we were finishing dinner last night, the usually reserved Un Comme (sp?) burst into the tent and grabbed a pound bag of Peets. 'Yes, yes, strong coffee. Yes.' We all just kind of laughed, but as I was leaving the tent about half an hour later, the sounds of an overworked steamer could be heard coming from the cook tent. Wondering what was going on, I poked my head inside and witnessed a full-on Sherpa coffee orgy. Boudda was working the steamer and handing out lattes with a zeal. I politely took one, then watched as round after round was passed out. I tried to explain that a single cup after dinner was usually more than enough, but it didn't seem to register. In fact, they just made another one for me, and after a fairly sleepless night, I once again awoke to the sound of the steamer going off and excited chatter.

Andrew McLean, Correspondent

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