The Mountains: Myths and Meanings

8th February 2016

Machapuchare mountain is one of Nepal’s most sacred mountains.  Nicknamed ‘fish tail mountain’ after the shape of its peak, Machapuchare is sacred in the Hindu religion as the home of Lord Shiva.  For this reason, climbing the summit is strictly off-limits and very few (if any) have ever set foot on the mountain top.  Some places are only meant for the presence of Gods.


We cannot talk about mountains in Nepal without mentioning its most famous peak.  At 8,848 metres above sea level, Mount Everest is the world’s highest mountain and is the ultimate goal for mountaineers across the world.  Despite its international audience, Mount Everest has a deep cultural significance for certain communities in Nepal.  The Sherpas are a skilled mountaineering community who have built their livelihood on their knowledge of Mount Everest.  The Sherpas are known for their expertise at very high altitudes and many Sherpa people have scaled Everest as expedition guides.  In fact, one of the first people to ever reach its summit was a Sherpa man.  Few communities have such close ties to a mountain as renowned as Everest.


Mount Kangchenjunga lies on the Nepal-Indian border and is another record-holder as the world’s third highest peak.  While it is impressive as a physical endeavour, the wild untamed nature of Kangchenjunga has set the scene for tales of mountain creatures and mystical valleys.  In 1925, a British geological expedition allegedly saw a bipedal creature roaming the mountain, a bear-like beast which locals called the “Kanchenjunga Demon”.  The beast has now become known as the Yeti (or the abominable snowman), an infamous creature which lives in the Himalayas.  Over the years, footprints in the snow and sightings of unidentified creatures have made the Yeti a staple part of Nepali myth and folklore, with many locals and mountaineers maintaining its existence today.


Raleigh volunteers will take on some of the Nepali mountains when we launch our expedition in Nepal later this year.  Volunteers will be working on community and environmental projects with the world’s tallest mountains as a backdrop, and they will achieve a great feat in working together to trek in some of the world’s most stunning mountains.  And don’t worry about the Yeti – we’ve had a word and he has granted Raleigh volunteers safe passage in Nepal as thanks for all their hard work!


Youth Economic Empowerment Nepal