Why "Sherpa" as a last name?

In this article about climbing Mt Everest every Nepalese climber has “Sherpa” as their last name. I thought that Sherpas were an ethnic group. Is this just tradition or are they all related?

It’s common in Asian countries for the family name to be said first. For instance, a Korean friend of mine back in Vietnam was called “Chung”. His full name was “Chung Nam Sik”, with “Chung” being his family name. I would suspect that “Sherpa” is a title, but is said last, the family names being of more importance that titles.


As a side note, Hungarian does the same – so Zsa Zsa Gabor would be Gabor Zsuzsanna in Hungarian.

Sherpas are very highly regarded and respected throughout the world, since they played a crucial role in the first and almost all subsequent summit trips on Mt. Everest.

Mountaineering is how many of them make their livings and the name Sherpa is invaluable in that trade.