Before We Begin (The OR Show), A Few Words About Nepal – OIA Industry Breakfast August 5th, 7 a.m.

July 16, 2015

Untitled-3Join your colleagues at the OIA Industry Breakfast sponsored by The North Face at OR Summer Market on Wednesday, August 5th at 7:00 a.m. in the Marriott Downtown at City Creek where high-altitude mountaineer, Pete Athans and the Vice President of American Himalayan Foundation, Norbu Tenzing, will walk us through Nepal’s struggles and how we as the outdoor industry, can engage, return and rebuild.

If you can’t attend in person, Brandlive will be simulcasting the event. Register here.

The North Face athlete and one of the world’s foremost high-altitude mountaineers, Pete Athans has a deep connection to and involvement in Nepal, having personally summited Mt. Everest seven times. Since the first earthquake in May of this year and the one that followed shortly after, Athans has been a voice of encouragement and guidance, helping his fellow outdoorists understand how our community is uniquely positioned to help. Meanwhile, Norbu Tenzing Norgay Sherpa—son of renowned climber and Everest first ascender, Tenzing—has been on the ground in Kathmandu directing his organization The American Himalayan Foundation, which has one of the most extensive and robust networks of projects throughout the country.
Athans and Norgay will travel to Utah next week to deliver the keynote address at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market industry breakfast sponsored by The North Face.
The following is a compilation of essays Athans has filed on The North Face’s Never Stop Exploring blog. 

While there has been an overwhelming outpouring of compassion, concern and generosity expressed by persons and organizations globally for Nepal, there is a great lack of understanding of how best to deliver aid materials to the neediest populations and ethnic groups in remote Nepal. While the larger urban centers have received support with relative speed, for the outlying regions without roads, relief has only been sporadic and intermittent. Large agencies have been extremely successful in mobilizing volunteers in the accessible though damaged regions.

There is a great lack of understanding of how best to deliver aid materials to the neediest populations and ethnic groups in remote Nepal.

Areas at first only marginally damaged by the first earthquake did not fare nearly as well with the second 7.4 magnitude quake, which had an epicenter much closer to Everest, north and east of the first earthquake. In the less developed areas where architecture is mostly limited to basic building materials, the homes and civic structures of wood, stone, mud and composite brick have not fared well and, in some cases, collapsed easily once the shear “shake” stress began moments after the initial shock. In the Everest region, where much of the traditional architecture consists of hewn granite block with a basic structural frame of wooden timbers, the devastation was incalculable as the structures have no reinforcement, rebar or steel and are not mortared together. The “dry stack” walls simply rattle apart with almost no resistance. As you can imagine, introducing new earthquake-resistant building materials, in addition to promoting and educating local builders on the techniques to use them will require time and training.

In the Everest region, where much of the traditional architecture consists of hewn granite block with a basic structural frame of wooden timbers, the devastation was incalculable as the structures have no reinforcement, rebar or steel and are not mortared together.

But let’s back up a little and take a look at the efforts of one citizen group, the P2P4N, that is managed by Anup Gurung and Ang Tsering Lama. Imagine what it must entail to collect tarpaulins, corrugated roofing sheets, rope, rice and lentils, stoves and fuel, and load them into large trucks for transport. Then, traveling the damaged highways with the threat of aftershocks a constant consideration, the team transfers the materials to roadheads where local trails lead to some of the remote crisis areas. Local villagers then meet the team’s truck and assist bringing all the supplies into the region, which can take hours or days. The people comprising this citizen team are mountaineers, river runners, mountain bikers, and trekking guides. Although they may not be traditional aid workers, their training as guides allows them to provide basic medical care to injured people encountered en route, and they are not intimidated by the strenuous work of transporting materials to Nepal’s high, remote, rugged regions. Once they’ve reached a village or suitable location, a camp is set up and aid is distributed until all supplies are exhausted.

Although they may not be traditional aid workers, their training as guides allows them to provide basic medical care to injured people encountered en route, and they are not intimidated by the strenuous work of transporting materials to Nepal’s high, remote, rugged regions.

The monsoon, while slowly developing, is now affecting the efficacy of the relief effort as well as the ability for locals to begin the difficult rebuilding process. Incessant, dramatic rainfall complicates already unstable terrain prone to landslides. Several of the major waterways through the country have had blockages and then floods, putting the downstream communities at even greater risk for property damage and physical injury. Poor weather also renders helicopter flights less possible and more dangerous with decreased visibility and power. One recent helicopter crash has left the small fleet of rescue aircraft diminished.

Nepal continues to experience great challenges, demonstrates abundant need and has completely outstripped governmental agencies’ ability to manage all of the issues. For us outside of the country, we need to remember that while the the earthquake of 2015 may no longer be front page news, this second phase of rebuilding will require a sustained, committed effort. Nepal has been an inspiration to the world for decades since its opening in the 1950s to eager mountaineers, searching for the corridor to the rooftop of the world. Now, Nepal perseveres to rebuild and with a strong partnership with friends will be able to do so.

Nepal has been an inspiration to the world for decades since its opening in the 1950s to eager mountaineers, searching for the corridor to the rooftop of the world. Now, Nepal perseveres to rebuild and with a strong partnership with friends will be able to do so.

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