Sherpa

The Tibetan word sherpa means “people of the East.” Depending on context the word has several meanings in English.

ethnic group
The Sherpa are a group of people who live in the mountainous region of Nepal, in the Himalayas. They migrated there from the Kham region in eastern Tibet during the past 300-400 years. Many of them are hired by outsiders as mountain-climbing guides. When Sir Edmund Hillary climbed Mount Everest in 1953, his guide was the Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

mountain guide
Because so many Sherpa are employed by visitors to guide them in the mountains, especially in climbs up Everest, the term sherpa has come to mean a mountain guide in general.

beaureaucratic gofer
Sherpa has acquired a figurative meaning related to the planning of high level leadership meetings which are themselves figuratively called “summits.” In the context of this type of summit, the officials who make the arrangements are called sherpas.

a

Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay in 1953. --Jamling Tenzing Norgay (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)