Pemba Gyalje Sherpa was part of the group of climbers who, in early August 2008, began the last leg of their summit of K2, a mountain in the heart of the Karakoram Range in northern Pakistan. At 28,251 feet, K2 is second in height only to Everest, but its peak is even steeper, colder and more desolate than its Himalayan sister. On that journey, 11 climbers died, 9 of them after an ice pillar broke the fixed ropes they needed to retreat down an icy chute called the Bottleneck. Mr. Sherpa rescued two of the climbers who were trapped above 26,000 feet, where oxygen is scarce. “The Summit,” a documentary released this month in the United States, retells the story of the disaster and the rescue effort. When Mr. Sherpa returned to his home in Katmandu, Nepal, following the climb, he said his family and friends pleaded with him to stop mountaineering. “But climbing and guiding is my life,” he said, “and I will never stop.” The next season, he was back leading expeditions of the Himalayas. Below are edited excerpts from a conversation with Mr. Sherpa. Q. What’s the Sherpa people’s cultural connection to climbing? A. Today, the term Sherpa is often used for any guide hired for mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas, regardless of ethnicity. But the meaning of Sherpa is “eastern people,” and they are an ethnic group from the most mountainous region of Nepal, high in the Himalayas. My ancestors played the important role to early Western explorers, serving as guides at the extreme altitudes of the peaks and passes in the region, particularly Mount Everest. Sherpa are highly regarded as mountaineers, but before Western explorers, we didn’t climb mountains as sport. We trekked and herded cattle, but didn’t climb. As a child, I hiked 300 meters up every day from my village to school, and yes, for some parts of the path I had to scramble up a mountain. But I climbed my first mountain, 6,100 meters, when I was 16 years old. Mountains, to us, are holy. Before climbing I always perform puja, a spiritual and religious ceremony when the monk makes an offering of food. It brings good fortune and a safe journey on the mountains. What’s in your bag on a climb? Equipment such as an ice ax, harness, rope, helmet, ice screw, rock pitons, snow pickets, crampon, carabiners, belay device, tap sling, quick draws, map, compass, G.P.S., headlamp, water bottle, first-aid kit, bivouac sack and extra layers. My best equipment brands are Black Diamond, Petzl and Beal. For jackets, undergarments and sleeping bags, I use Feathered Friends, Sherpa Adventure Gear, North Face and Mountain Hardwear. What advice would you give to someone audacious enough to climb, say, Mount Everest? Keep hiking, trekking and climbing in a high-altitude environment. It is the most important way to gain high-altitude experience. Climb on 6,000-meter, 7,000-meter peaks or one of the 8,000-meter peaks before attempting Mount Everest. Himalayas and Andes Mountains are the best places for this kind of high-altitude training. Some technical training on snow, ice, rock and mixed terrain also is important. This is possible on any mountain and permanent glacier in the world. To have a really safe climb, it’s three years of high-altitude and technical training. That’s what I suggest: three years. What about experiencing the Himalayas without climbing? There are so many beautiful mountain valleys in Himalayas for the alpine trekking and hiking: Annapurna, Langtang, Kanchenjunga, Manaslu, many others. My company, High Country, in Katmandu, does alpine trekking in Khumbu. I also recommend two super alpine trekking guides: Pasang Temba Sherpa and Dawa Tenji Sherpa. Trekking, it’s a face-to-face view with the high mountains of Himalaya.