Hard to believe—another spring and reports of more misery and suffering in Nepal, only this time on a scale of unimaginable proportions. When a 7.9 magnitude earthquake centered approximately 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu struck on Apr. 25, it destroyed homes, flattened historic UNESCO World Heritage sites, and unleashed an avalanche that slammed into Everest Base Camp killing at least 19 and leaving many more injured.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Fahim Rahim, jrmfoundation.org
Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations resident coordinator for Nepal, estimates that the earthquake had affected eight million people in the country, including two million in the 11 worst affected districts. The death toll at press time was well over 7,500.
It was the worst tragedy in Everest's history. The American victims who died on the mountain were: Dan Fredinburg, a Google executive; Marisa Eve Girawong, a physician's assistant from New Jersey; Tom Taplin, a documentary filmmaker from Santa Monica, Calif., and Vinh B. Truong, according to ABC News.
The Independent in the U.K. captured the horror in a series of images depicting the misery and devastation.
The news from those on the ground in Nepal was dismaying. Tashi Sherpa, founder and CEO of Sherpa Adventure Gear, wrote a few days after the earthquake, "I spent a heartbreaking morning paying my respects to a broken down Manisha (one of our long time employees) and her husband who lost their only son Sunny, in the devastation that hit Bhaktapur, and her old mother who is still missing in the collapsed rubble of an ancient township ... Another April and another tale of a sorrowful spring."
Climber Alan Arnette, a teammate of the late Marisa Eve Girawong, says of the avalanche at Everest Base Camp, "It was a F5 tornado combined with IEDs all in an environment of nylon tents. The only place to hide was behind a larger rock, even then there was no certainty."
His report of the abbreviated Everest climbing season posted to ExplorersWeb.com is chilling.
According to Arnette, on May 3, the Nepal Ministry of Tourism said "Everest is closed" due to the Icefall being impassable, then on the following day they said it was officially open and anyone with a permit may attempt the mountain. "As of this writing no one remained at EBC with the intention to climb. For the first time since 1974, Everest would have no summits by any route, from any camp, by any means," writes Arnette.
Adventurers, explorers, climbers and trekkers who have visited Nepal and know how the country and its people create memories that last a lifetime, are bonding over their shared despair for this latest disaster to befall the kind, warm and beautiful people of Nepal.
As the U.N. and Nepalese government estimate three million people need food and hundreds of thousands are homeless, here's a look at how some members of the outdoor community are rallying support:
* The American Alpine Club said in a statement, "This tragedy has impacted our tribe of climbers on the high peaks. And it has devastated communities, families, and towns across Nepal. A number of AAC partner organizations are collecting relief funds to help local mountain communities and to support on-the-ground aid efforts. These include the American Himalayan Foundation, the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation, and the Juniper Fund." (www.americanalpineclub.org)
Envirofit EFI 100L low polluting stoves are heading to Nepal earthquake victims
* The Himalayan Stove Project has reported raising $20,000 in its first six days of appeals. HSP,in cooperation with Rotary International Clubs and individual Rotarians, and a generous global donor community, is focusing on providing shelter - tents and tarpaulins at a minimum, and more substantial shelters wherever possible, along with water, food and sanitation.
They hope to supply more Envirofit low polluting institutional stoves. Founder George Basch writes, "The EFI 100L which has a 100 Liter pot, is ideal for cooking lentils (Dal) and rice (Bhat) making Dal Bhat, that staple, highly nutritious Nepali dish, as well as soups. The plan is to distribute them in pairs - one for Dal and one for Bhat - so that mass-feeding programs can be supported.
To donate log onto www.himalayanstoveproject.org
* International Mountain Guides (IMG) based in Ashford, Wash., reports many homes in the Khumbu area have been destroyed, including those belonging to some of the IMG Sherpa families. According to IMG's web site, "We intend to help support the IMG Sherpas who have done such a great job supporting our IMG teams on the mountain, by providing money and support for specific projects. This is charity work on a small scale, local and accountable." Donations to the IMG Sherpa Fund can be made through International Mountain Guides, Attn: IMG Sherpa Fund, P.O. Box 246, Ashford, WA 98304, www.mountainguides.com.
* The Outdoor Industry Association recognizes the role Nepal plays in the adventure field. Its web site statement reads in part, "For the outdoor industry, Nepal represents the pinnacle of world trekking and climbing. Outdoor gear of all types is utilized in every capacity, both by Westerners who journey there every year and by the people of Nepal who make their living in the tourism, guiding and adventure industries." The OIA recommends cash donations to three groups with high Charity Navigator ratings: Direct Relief, Global Giving, and the American Himalayan Foundation.
Nepal employees of Sherpa Adventure Gear assisting in relief efforts with some of the supplies earmarked for a local monastery. (Photo courtesy of Sherpa Adventure Gear)
* Sherpa Adventure Gear, the Kathmandu-based outdoor apparel manufacturer, has created an earthquake relief fund called "Help Sherpas Help Nepal" to support aid to remote villages affected by the disaster.
The company has committed to initially raising $100,000 through the campaign and 100% of the money raised will be dedicated to direct relief efforts thru Sherpa Adventure Gear's existing network in villages, where the company underwrites the education of Sherpa children through its charitable Paldorje Education Fund.
The fundraising appeal is on Crowdrise. At press time over $72,000 had been raised. SAG also plans to donate 500 tents and blankets out of existing fabric stock. (www.crowdrise.com/helpsherpashelpnepal)
* The Explorers Club in New York has offered its facility to the country of Nepal for fundraising purposes. In a letter to Ambassador Dr. Shankar P. Sharma, Nepalese Ambassador to the United States, newly-appointed Club president Ted Janulis writes, "From the peaks of Mt. Everest, to the streets of Kathmandu, many of our more than 3,000 world explorer-members have entrusted their lives and their expeditions to the loyalty, bravery and expertise of our Nepalese colleagues and we will forever be grateful for their friendship and support." (www.explorers.org)
* The U.S. Nepal Climbers Association, Inc. is an organization focused on promoting growth of mountaineering and climbing activities and protecting the Nepalese mountains, natural resources and cultural heritage. Serap Jangbu Sherpa, president, seeks donations through www.usnepalclimbers.org, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The above story originally appeared in Expedition News.