Post #169: Kathmandu; The Long Trip Home, Trying to Comprehend it All, May 9, 2015.
With any luck I will get this posted when I am back on U.S. Soil. Suddenly I am sitting on a very long 15 hour flight from Doha to Dallas.
Well, eventually I made my way to Lukla, and in clear skies jumped on a flight to Kathmandu, ending my adventure in the Everest Region. I felt fulfilled with the activities I was given in the days after the Earthquake, but knew it was my time to leave. The morning I came out I was on about the 10 flight of the morning, so while there wasn’t 500 people trying to leave Lukla, 10 planes throughout a clear morning with 10-15 people is still a fair amount.
The evening before I arrived to Lukla on the trail from Namche, I observed Most Teahouses from Monjo to Phakding to Lukla with minor cracks and damage, and there were a handful with complete destruction. One thing was clear and bizarre at the same time: it felt desolate and deserted because the teahouses were empty, and there was not a single trekker coming up the trail from Lukla. I an almost guarantee you’ll never see it like that ever again during trekking season. It reminded me of 2013 when I trekked down from Gasherbrum II on the Baltoro Glacier in Pakistan. Terrorism had effectively wiped out the people coming in. As I strolled out of the Khumbu to similar stillness, I thought that this would also be the only time that such a famous trekking route to Everest BC will be so deserted.
What will the implications be this fall then when the fall trekking season is slated to begin? I am going to go out on a limb and say that this fall may be slightly lower than usual, but I believe the crowds will be back. As for Everest next year, I bet it will be as crowded or have even more aspiring climbers in 2016. Let’s see what happens.
I minimized my time in Kathmandu, but I saw enough. In some places homes had completely collapsed. In most places, the city was fine and completely normal. Now that the Death Toll is Approaching 10,000, the people in Kathmandu also have to try and move on with their lives. In some cases it’s not easy, especially for the poor who likely can’t afford to build or rebuild for themselves. In a metropolis that includes almost 4 Million people (Including the outlying ex-urban areas), almost a Million people have fled to rural villages to either help family and friends, or to go to a place that has standing homes ad running water. For a while, Kathmandu was running out of supplies, but life is actually getting easier in the City, because so many people left. One of the days in Kathmandu I actually saw the Snow-Capped Himalayas in the Distance, a site that is rare because usually there is too much smog and haze choking the air. As a result of less people driving, less people burning fuel for cooking, and others leaving the city, you could argue that the air quality had improved quite a bit. In my previous years of visiting Kathmandu, I had actually never seen air so clear there.
I took a walk around the city one day and shot some photos of the lingering damage. One place that startled me was a watering hole/temple behind my hotel in Thamel that was completely obliterated since 2012 from when I saw it last. A building collapsed, the debris fell into this pit the size of a basketball gymnasium, about 15 feet deep and up to a dozen people were killed and are still beneath the rubble. Sadly, this is a common sight in various parts of the City. You can go for long blocks and nothing has happened, then randomly a building will have collapsed. Although I wasn’t able to go see it, a famous place in Kathmandu has been devastated, called Patan Durbar Square. I visited the place in 2008 when I was here and there are photos and videos on the web that show it collapsing.
In leaving Nepal, I find myself feeling what only a human being can feel, sad, helpless, concerned, amazed, and grateful. While my efforts on the ground in Basecamp and coming down the Khumbu felt good and rewarding, the situation for the rest of Nepal quite honestly feels hopeless for the unlucky ones. Life goes go on for people not affected, but you come away from it all wishing you had a recipe for recovery.
In thinking about this now on my ride home, if you contribute financially to the causes over here, you should definitely go with good organizations that have a proven track record, and the ability to do something good in Nepal with your donation. Unfortunately the Nepali Government is not very responsible, so money going to them may never reach the right place. I think 3 organizations for now get my approval.
1. The Dzi Foundation
2. The Juniper Fund
3. Raise Nepal: A disaster relief fund by Nepal Adventurers. (Google Global Giving to find Raise Nepal)
I do know there are regions much more impacted than Even Kathmandu. The Manaslu and Langtang regions of northern and northwestern Nepal in rural villages were heavily hit. Hopefully the rescue organizations and relief efforts can help them out as by-an-large the Khumbu region not only has wealth to recover, but sustained small damage overall as compared to these other regions.
What has transpired in Nepal before my eyes was unprecedented. I can’t imagine having something like this happen again on one of my Climbing Expeditions, or even living through such a powerful force as an earthquake like this one anytime I travel to a different country. Lets all hope for the best and understand that every little bit helps.
This will officially conclude my posts from Nepal for this Expedition. I want to thank all of my friends, family, and followers new and old for coming along for the journey. While I will be continuing to put up some occasional entries from this expedition and the follow up through Media and Television projects and interviews, I also plan on trying to get posts and videos of my adventures this summer up on a regular basis, including a return to Africa in the coming months. My best-selling book “Sleeping on the Summits: Colorado 14er High Bivys” is also being released for it’s Third Printing here in June next month, so get your copy today from my website, one of my upcoming events, or bookstores all over Colorado and the Western US.
I want to send a special thank you to my good friend and colleague Chris Tomer who did an outstanding job and helping me post updates, do my Media while away and keep the blog running when I sent him dispatches. I am looking forward to getting home for awhile and enjoying the Spring and Summer in Colorado, not to mention visiting my parents for some of my Mom’s amazing home cooking!
As always, thanks to my Sponsors, especially Enerplex and Zeal Optics who will be organizing a fundraiser in the coming weeks for Nepal with my help. Also thanks to GoScope, SilverOak, Honey Stinger, Kastle, Mountain Hardwear, Korte, and Aclimate. Without my supporters this trip would not have been possible.
Until Next Time- Keep Climbing!