Highest pint in world
The Irish Pub at the foot of Everest welcomes mountaineers with a Guinness and a pool table
For years there's been much debate over which pub is the highest in Ireland.
It's typically a toss up between Johnnie Fox's in Dublin and the Ponderosa on the Glenshane Pass in the North.
However, neither have a patch on the highest Irish pub in the world, in the shadow of Mount Everest in Nepal.
You could be forgiven, upon setting foot in the pub for the first time, to momentarily think you've stepped into a traditional Irish boozer in Dublin's Temple Bar or Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.
That's because owner Dawa Sherpa (35) has gone to painstaking lengths, even shipping the Guinness in from Singapore - a journey which takes almost three months - to build the quintessential Irish pub in the village of Namche Bazar, 11,318 feet above sea level!
Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World, Dawa, who charges 800 Rupees (roughly a fiver) for a pint of the black stuff, explained: "I'm originally from Namche Bazaar itself. After finishing my undergrad in Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, I went back to Namche to start a tourism-related business, since it's more convenient and less of a risk to start a business in your own hometown in Nepal. My brother, Phurba Tenzing, and myself came up with the idea of opening a pub in Namche. He was already in the tourism business, running a bakery and cafe.
"The construction of our pub began in 2010 and we opened 2011. The locals have been very supportive since the beginning. Everyone knows everyone as Namche's a small town. Also, the pub culture is not an issue in our community. Locals join in for a few drinks to warm up in the winter and enjoy our firewood chimney, and even our pool table, during their visit.
"We don't have any connection to Ireland, but we decided to name it The Irish Pub because we thought if big cities around the world could have Irish pubs, why not Namche? This is how we began and worked really hard to keep the authenticity of The Irish Pub intact. We tried to incorporate as many Irish themes in the pub as possible with the limited amount of resources we had since very beginning. We did everything from scratch."
He added: "We only sell canned Guinness because it's more convenient and also costs us less to transport. We have our liquor dealer in Kathmandu and we order our Guinness at the end of a season to get the shipment in for the next season, since it takes two to three months to get it from Singapore to Kathmandu and few more weeks to get it from Kathmandu to Namche, depending on the weather.
"So a pint of Guinness travels quite a long way before it lands on a customer's table in the world's highest pub. We sell Guinness almost without any profit, just for the sake of maintaining the authenticity of The Irish Pub. Besides Guinness, we have Irish products like Jameson, Tullamore Dew, Bushmills, and Baileys. We have more than 150 varieties of liquor in our collection."
Dawa also revealed the extreme lengths he and his brother went to to make the pub as authentic as possible, and how he even had a pool table transported to the heady heights of the pub by porters who carried it on their backs.
"We have tried our level best to maintain the Irish authenticity of the pub since we opened. The pool table was well packed in Kathmandu then transported to Lukla airport via airplane and from there we hire porters to carry it all the way to Namche. Some porters can carry up to 125 kilos on their back for two days straight. Most of our stuff is fragile so we don't have any options besides hiring porters. The regular essentials are carried by mules and yaks in our region.
"We have renovated the whole pub recently. I have another Irish Pub in Pokhara, south of Namche, which is one of the most beautiful cities in Nepal and also the gateway to the Annapurna mountains region."
The publican also said Irish mountaineers love a little taste of home as they're passing through Namche en route to the world's largest mountain.
"We get people from all four corners of the world but if there are Irish in town, they always pop in and they're usually startled to see the pub. They don't mind having a Guinness or two even when they are on their way up to base camp, though it's not technically recommended! Some mountaineers do buy a few bottles of drinks to bring to Everest base camp to celebrate after they've climbed the summit.
"In terms of drinking alcohol at high altitude, most of the foreigners drink only on their way back from their base camp expeditions. By that time the body is already well acclimatised, making very little to no difference from drinking on an average elevation, so long as they don't booze too much...
"For those who return from the Everest summit, it's a celebration they want to remember, so they don't mind buying drinks for their sherpas and the crews. Most of them get wasted on their last night in the Himalayas!"
Dawa says he has left climbing Everest to the experts, and spoke of his hopes for a new road leading to the remote region which will finally connect The Irish Pub to Nepal's wider road network.
"I've been up to Everest base camp but have not climbed beyond that. I'm less adventurous when it comes to mountaineering!
While Dawa has never been to Ireland, he says he has hopes to visit one day for a pint of draught Guinness in a pub here. In the meantime, he's happy sipping on a pint of stout in his own little slice of Ireland in the clouds.
"I have not visited Ireland yet. Getting a visa to Ireland is like trying to move mountains. I had my plans to apply for a visa this summer but that's being delayed for now due to the global pandemic of Covid-19. But I'll definitely come to Ireland once things go back to normal."