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THANK YOU for your support to the Everest fundraiser for the NYF

July 20, 2014 by

I want to THANK YOU very much for participating in the fundraiser for the Nepal Youth Foundation.

We successfully raised the INCREDIBLE SUM OF ~$7,000.

I had the opportunity to visit the Nepal Youth Foundation in Kathmandu (see my post): I could not only see the incredible work they do, but also meet the beneficiaries of these efforts – the Nepalese mothers and children that learn and grow with the NYF, that are supported in their fight against HIV and that can steer their life towards a more positive future.

Seeing how our efforts can HELP CHANGING LIVES is a wonderful gift and being part of this fundraising initiative has been a privilege. I hope you feel the same way.

It has been A TRUE HONOR TO COUNT ON YOUR SUPPORT and I thank you very much for it!

Please keep following and supporting the Nepal Youth Foundation!

 

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Using PayPal at 20,000ft

May 18, 2014 by

Another beautiful and quite unique element of a Himalayan adventure is the need to bring only cash to pay for your purchases, whether food, accommodations or other services on the trail – something that I almost forgot about in the US. Credit cards are at best used to cut a fruit.

The at times sporadic gift of connectivity brings a trekker back to the endless world of web opportunities and, fortunately in my case, the forgotten payments due.

DSC02648 smallWhether it was a bill for gear I sold and purchased on eBay, a due payment for glacier training I did back home or a surprise bouquet of flower ordered from Base Camp to send home, PayPal came to the rescue and helped me make those happen with a couple of clicks.

As you all know, the Everest expedition is combined with my fundraising support for the Nepal Youth Foundation (it was an absolute delight to meet them in Kathmandu and see first hand how their work positively affects the lives of local underprivileged children). PayPal has been an essential instrument to enable donors to contribute to this cause. Fundraising happened on the crowdfunding platform we used as well as through the multiple donations I accepted using the mobile apps.

Funny enough, during the meeting at Base Camp between the Sherpas and representatives from the ministry of tourism, one of the Minister’s people noticed the PayPal logo on my hat and said:” PayPal, global payments!!”

Does it mean that in the future I will pay the Himalayan tea houses for my delicious momos or ginger tea using PayPal?!

Whether you’re an user or never tried PayPal, our fundraising campaign to build a New Life Center for children affected by HIV is still open: make a donation and help us make this dream become possible.

Visiting the Nepal Youth Foundation in Kathmandu

May 8, 2014 by

My last day in Kathmandu was dedicated to the visit of the Nepal Youth Foundation, the non-profit organization that I have been supporting for my Everest expedition. I was really looking forward to seeing in person the great work they do and hearing first-hand about their accomplishment and plans. Som Paneru, NYF President and and a former NYF scholar, greeted me and acted as my Cicero to the visit of NYF Centers in the south part of the city.

We initially visited the Nutritional Rehabilitation Home, where Nutritional centermothers and their malnourished children are welcome for a treatment period of about 6 weeks. During this period, children go through a nutritional rehabilitation and the mothers receive education about preparing nutritious meals with food and ingredients available in Nepal. The NYF has established 16 similar centers all over Nepal and the model is such that after 5 years each Center is handed over to the local government who will continue the implementation of the programs. Insofar, the Kathmandu Home has counted 258 admissions in 2014 and 3400 since its inception.

Our next stop was at the New Life Center, where children affected by New Life CenterHIV are hosted and treated. HIV is a growing health problem in Nepal and, even more worryingly, it causes discrimination and as a result abandonment for both children and their caretaker. During their staying at the Center, food, housing and medical treatment are provided for free – an ambulance is also parked in the garden, as trips to the hospital are often necessary. During my visit, four children were permanent residents and the Center has the capacity to host up to 20 people. We reached the Center just before lunch and we briefly interrupted a singing and dance class – several young volunteers from Europe and US were assisting the children and the energy of the kids was wonderfully joyful (no, I didn’t sing fortunately …)

The New Life Center offers a very comprehensive approach to HIV treatment and for this reason is very costly. The New Life Centerwork NYF has been doing over the last 20 years is truly phenomenal and their success in Nepal is proof that their commitment and approach are what makes the difference.

The fundraising I have been championing during my Everest expedition will support NYF’s plans for the New Life Center: I encourage you to learn more about it and consider making a donation. Think about this: if a single dollar goes a really long way in Nepal, how big can your impact be?!

Dreams are possible if you believe!

Everest 2014: my last thoughts

May 1, 2014 by

As we made our way back to Kayhmandu, I wanted to share my last thoughts on the events that occurred after the tragic accident of April 18th.

2014 will likely be remembered as a dramatic and at the same time pivotal for Everest mountaineering in Nepal.
The awful avalanche of April 18th that caused 16 deaths profoundly hit the Sherpa community, undermining its confidence and raising an identity crisis within the Everest ecosystem.
The Sherpas’ decision not to support any further climbing of Everest this season (“it will be Everest black year”) eventually escalated to a negotiations with the government over a number of requests about insurance coverage, compensations to the victims families, labor rights and creation of a fund from the permit fees.

In fact the most dangerous operations on Everest (route setting on the icefall and on higher camps, carrying of equipment and food higher up on the mountain and support to clients) are performed by the Sherpas – the perception that such work isn’t always fully appreciated may have contributed to the radicalized tension that erupted last week.

It’s also relevant to notice that all climbing agencies (international and local) depend in their entirety on the work of the Sherpas and their strike costs about $3M in seasonal budget for at least three agencies. It’s important to know that the $4M of this season permit fees will be kept by the government.

The place where the avalanche occurred is notoriously one of the most dangerous on Everest and every year the movement of the glacier makes it worse. Sherpas are also very respectful about crossing the areas where brothers, relatives and friends lost their lives.

As we left base camp, it’s impressive to see how it has become the skeleton of the sparkling international atmosphere of just two weeks prior: the strike of the Sherpas basically shut the Everest spring season and most groups packed their gear, their tents and head back home.
It’s a mix of feelings for climbers: sadness for the tragedy that was lived in person, disappointment for having to postpone a dream that has been prepared for a long time, and bitterness for having been used by a sub-group for political reasons – moreover episodes of intimidation and threat not to break the strike have been reported.

Hard to tell where all this will lead to, but clearly without more transparent coordination and dialogue between the Nepalese government, the agencies and the Sherpas, the choice of climbing Everest from Nepal will be less obvious in the next future.

Everest 2014: a Sherpa tragedy

April 24, 2014 by

Located at 5340 mt and tucked on the Khumbu glacier, Everest Base Camp becomes a buzzy small village for about two months twice a year (spring and fall).
It took us about eight days to hike there from Lukla, an honorable 60 km distance through small and medium-sized villages, some
simple overnight stops, others trading hubs (like Namche Bazaar, where even traders from Tibet come to buy and sell fabrics, utensils and meat).
Approaching from Gokak Shep, the very last conglomerate of teahouses – I counted less then 10 plus a couple of semi-working telecom antennas. The view is of a massive extension of ice, covered in part by rocks and surrounded by towering peaks, which at its center
shows spots of yellow, red, blue,… this is Base Camp with its individual teams’ camps -The official count indicates that there are about 380 climbers, 34 teams and over 500 members of the assisting crew.
Imagining that here at Base Camp possible and impossible dreams take shape, long journeys of training, preparation and hard work
culminate, and so different stories, motivations, lives intersect is mesmerizing.
But this year the atmosphere is different.
While on on our way To Base Camp, our Sridar (= lead Sherpa) receives the information that at about 6am a massive avalanche has stricken just above camp1.
15 Sherpa that were carrying equipment and supplies to camp Two were hit. the rescue
operations are almost immediate but don’t prevent the tragic epilogue.
I walk into base camp the day after
the accident, and the silent sadness that pervades the random alleys is sometimes interrupted by the sound of helicopters supporting the rescue operations.
The Base camp community, Sherpas and climbers (accepting such definitions), are very close in these very sad moments, and numerous manifestations of solidarity and support emerge.
However, as the hours and the days go by, a divide seems to grow and the Sherpa community progressively shuts down to the external world, especially for the more intimate thoughts and emotions – with rare exceptions, the Nepali people are very reserved end introvert.
The magnitude of such tragedy has profoundly shaken the Sherpa community and, while it has been an unforeseeable accident and for pure luck no climbers have been involved, the question the Sherpas are asking is: why do we have to the greater risks, while the protection we receive and the compensation we receive are relatively low?
This is certainly a simplification of a broader issue, but it captures the essential elements of the requests put forward by the Sherpa
leadership to the government and the climbing agencies in order to address the gaps currently existing.
the ongoing discussion recently escalated to the threat by the Sherpa leadership to pull out of the Everest expedition season.
the next days will be critical to determine the direction of the current season but also how future ones will shape up.
the Sherpas have been very compact and very firm in putting their request forward – their resistance and opposition to a sense of exploitation, whether by the government or the international agencies is growing and hopefully will be addressed.

[reported with my Livescribe smartpen]

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Summit Stories Moblog: stories from #Everest

April 22, 2014 by

Telling Summit Stories on the go: this time reporting from Everest!

Summit Stories Moblog: stories from #Everest

April 21, 2014 by

Telling Summit Stories on the go: this time reporting from Everest!

Palpable energy in Kathmandu

April 3, 2014 by

The energy I feel in the air as I walk around the hotel and the nearby streets is growing as minutes go by.
Many of the people I am seeing are climbers who are about to leave for their expedition (most to everest, others to Annapurna, Manaslu and other Himalayan peaks) and are frantically putting the last ‘check’ to their equipment list.

Climbers are flooding in from every part of the world, each with their goals, different backgrounds and own motivations to embark on a major mountaineering adventure. Our own group is composed of climbers from Chile, Finland, US and India – we met for the first time yesterday and it looks like we will have a very fun time (if only for the accents and jargon juggling).

Nepal is the fastest-growing touristic destination in Asia and Kathmandu is its central hub – more than 1 million people out of of the total nine in the country. Here trips are planned, start, unfold and eventually return to, rich with sometimes unique and life-changing stories. Everest and other mountains are part of this fascinating carousel of people and dreams, extremes and humanity, long-lasting relationships and memories.

It’s exhilarating to experience it, and this is just a glimpse at the beginning.

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Packing done, time to go #everest

March 28, 2014 by

Well, it is really time to get going now. After countless gear checks, packing and repacking and last minute substitutions, the two massive bags are ready.

Comparing the two pictures below, I have to say that it was a serious exercise of planning (trek vs base camp v summit), shrinking the volumes (I found compressible ziploc bags extremely helpful) and positioning every corner to fit another (tetris, remember?!).

And at the airport I am sure it will be fun to try and sneak everything through the weight limits. Will see how it goes (no, nutella and parmesan are not in yet).

Everest here we come!

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Everest 2014 – Equipment Check

March 24, 2014 by

The final week before departure sees an almost obsessive process of equipment review, packing and unpacking, the sudden rush to order that missing item. After all, the extreme environment and the long duration of the trip will not allow for any replacement or internet ordering and delivery! Better be super-sure about anything you may need.

I want to share part of this process and some of the cool gear and tech toys I will have with me through a short video I prepared.

You can also find the full list of items on this document (disclaimer: this list fits me and it should be double-checked with the guide you may decide to use).