Yak Girl

Growing Up in the Remote Dolpo Region of Nepal

This unusual memoir of a spirited girl in the remote region of Nepal described in Peter Matthieson’s The Snow Leopard vividly portrays life in her primitive mountain village in the 80s, her struggles in bewildering Kathmandu, and her journey to America to receive life-saving surgery. An inspiring story of an indomitable spirit conquering all obstacles, a tale of a girl with a disability on her way to becoming a dynamic woman in a new world.


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This unusual memoir immerses us in the fascinating story of a spirited girl in a remote, undeveloped region of Nepal near the border of Tibet, a place made known to the world in Peter Matthiesen’s The Snow Leopard. Life above 13,000 feet in Upper Dolpo—often called the last paradise because of its breathtaking snow-capped peaks, untouched beauty, and hand-irrigated green pastures—was one of constant risk and harsh survival. Dorje’s life centered around the care of her numerous younger brothers and sisters and the family’s sheep, goats, and yaks. At age five she began herding and was soon taking the animals high in the mountains, where she fought off predatory wolves and snow leopards. Covering her first ten years, the story takes Dorje from her primitive mountain village to the bewildering city of Kathmandu, and finally to a new home in America, where she receives life-saving surgery. With humor, soul, and insightful detail, the author gives us vividly told vignettes of daily life and the practice of centuries-old Tibetan traditions. This wonderful and surprising tale of survival, loss, and self-reflection offers us entry to this difficult, yet magical, place.

Praise for Yak Girl

“A rare and fascinating testimony, told from the inside, of a little girl who made an incredible trip from inner Dolpo to America—and from the Middle Ages to the 21st century.”

—Eric Valli, director of the Oscar-nominated film Himalaya

“This Dolpo native’s expression of life as a young girl in her remote homeland is the best way to truly experience and understand the untold story of its unique culture and traditions.”

                        — Tenzin Norbu, internationally known artist and illustrator, native of Dolpo

Additional information

Product Format


Page Count

328 pages


6 x 9 in.