Tiger of the Snows is a registered non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2013. The founder, Mike Hamill, has been involved in the outdoor tourism/mountain climbing industry for almost two decades. He has been leading climbs and treks on all seven continents and has spent many years of his life in places life Nepal, Tibet, Tanzania, and others leading climbs and treks. During this time Mike has built a close connection with the local communities of workers from underserved regions around the world. This connection has opened his eyes to the lack of opportunities for basic education for many people and the inequities of education globally. It was his goal to address this lack of education by facilitating education through direct aid. It’s our belief that education should be accessible to all and a fundamental right and that the best way to address issues of development and social issues is through education.
Mike has witnessed a lack of access to education throughout his years in the outdoor industry. In 2013, a fellow employee, Da Rita Sherpa, died on Mt. Everest. After this tragic event there was an outpouring of financial support for his family, namely his children’s education. The responsibility of paying for the children’s education fell directly on the shoulders of Mike’s close friend and grandfather of Da Rita’s kids, Dawa Sonam Sherpa. He was overwhelmed with grief due to the loss of his son-in-law but the financial burden the he knew was now his only made matters worse. The donation effort lacked organization and it seemed as if there were few organized avenues for helping with the burdensome task of paying for his children’s education, a priority for Sherpa parents. It seemed that there needed to be a more organized approach in order to properly deliver the donations. Mike concluded that he could help the children of the Sherpa workers, the workers themselves, and other mountain workers throughout the World by creating a fund. Although the impetus for starting the fund was because of the Sherpa, the scope of this project is much farther reaching. There are many outdoor industry workers who contribute so much to the experiences of those they work with who are sometimes exploited by the industry itself, that are in need of educational opportunities. Mike realized there was a need for opportunities around the globe, not only in Nepal.
In 2013, Mike founded the Tiger of the Snows Fund to help with the mission of creating educational opportunities. Personally, Mike has received so much from the people and cultures he works with. He saw this as an opportunity to give something back to those that have given him so much. Climbing in these exotic locations opens your eyes to so many cultures, viewpoints and to how other people live around the World. When you’re part of these communities you understand their point of view and it changes how you think. I think this is the real beauty of climbing; it forces you to travel to these amazing places.
Where does the name come from and what does it mean?
“Tiger of the Snows” is a term that became a title bestowed on only the bravest, most capable Sherpa climbers by British mountaineering expeditions when they worked together in the Himalayas. The British gave medals of honor to a select few Sherpa that fit this description. I now use this term in a general sense to describe all workers in the tourism industry the world over who soldier on at their work to provide opportunities for those they work for. Since the origins of this fund lie with the Sherpa community and educational needs that they have for injured or killed workers, it seemed an appropriate name for a fund that recognizes the strength, bravery, and assistance that these people provide to others.