With climbing abandoned, Nepal’s Sherpas pitch in with quake relief

  • Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
  • Updated: May 22, 2015 23:53 IST

If things had gone as planned, Nuri Sherpa would have been climbing Mount Annapurna (8,091 m), the 10th tallest mountain in the world, along with his expedition team.

But the April 25 quake occured, and everything changed. The expedition team, which was planning to shoot an adventure series, abandoned the climb and decided to get involved in relief work.

These days he is busy helping the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reach earthquake survivors in remote mountain villages which can’t be reached by helicopters or vehicles.

Nuri and his team are reaching villages in Gorkha district to assess the needs of the affected residents and relaying the needs via satellite phone to WFP. “Their skills mean they can act as eyes and ears in remote, and often potentially dangerous areas, that are otherwise cut off by landslides or sheer height,” said a WFP story on their work.

Nuri is acting as an interpreter between the expedition team members from abroad and the affected locals. “We have asked him numerous times if he would like to go home and he repeatedly insists he is needed where we are,” wrote expedition leader Canadian climber Don Bowie on his Facebook page.

Like Nuri several other Sherpas are also involved in relief work. Another group comprising nine Sherpas is planning an expedition to Mount Denali (6,168) in Alaska, North America’s highest peak, to raise funds for earthquake victims.

Last month’s quake has dealt a big blow to the Sherpa community, many of who are involved in expeditions to Himalayan peaks as guides, porters and support staff.

The quake and an subsequent avalanche put an end to this year’s spring climbing season. This is the second year climbing has been abandoned on the peaks — after an avalanche killed 16 last year — affecting their livelihoods.

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