Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Go To Nepal!!!!!

The best thing we can do for Nepal in the wake of this tragic event is to continue going to Nepal. But NOT right now! You being at risk in the region can become a whole host of other problems.

Lovely dirt bag school in the Solokhumbu
After things start getting cleaned up and transportation resumes, the Nepalese people will need to be employed again. Tourism is the food on their table, but more so- it's their heart and soul and the light in their eye.

"They are beautiful people inside and out because of the work they do." 
The sooner they can have a sense of normal in their lives, the faster they can heal and rebuild.

Put October 11 and November 11 on your calendar. We are organizing two rebuilding treks. 100% of the proceeds will go to the villages for rebuilding.

October 11: Everest region  - 15 days - fund raising trek
November 11: Sangachok - 10 days - fund raising and rebuild

Sherpa Direct: We are currently organizing a portal for hand-to-hand donations from us to the Sherpa families in the Khumbu. If you or some you know want to help, give us a shout.

Tim will lead the October 11 trek with his Sherpa crew. Both of us will go to Sangachok. Sangachok lost an estimated 40,000 homes. This is the village where "First Steps Himalaya" built the dirt bag kindergarten children's centre that stood solid throughout the earthquake.  We hope to build more dirt bag homes leading the way for affordable and safer housing for all.

To donate

To put yourself on our list of helpers, please email me at:

Come throw some dirt with us!

Becky Rippel

SUPPLIES LIST - there may well be a shortage of items on the list that will have to bought and sent cargo to Nepal.

  • Shovels
  • Picks
  • Axe's
  • Hammers
  • Tin/Medal
  • Nails/screws
  • Screw drivers/drills
  • Windows
  • Wood products
  • Buckets
  • Plastic on the roll
  • Tarps
  • Plastic bags
  • Rope
  • Saws/hand and power
  • Rebar
  • Motar
  • Paint
  • Preservatives
  • Electrical supplies
  • Solar panel
  • Generator
  • Batteries
  • Portable welder
  • Dining tent
  • Toilet and shower tent
  • Storage tent
  • Stoves, pots
  • Fuel
  • Eating equipment
  • Water purifying equipment
  • Sleeping tents
  • Supplies cargo expenses
  • Workers transport
  • Truck hire

Update #2- Langtang- On the ground report


Chris Jones forward..

Tim - here is am more detailed account from Langtang: Report on situation in Langtang, April 28, from Austin Lord. (researcher friend
of a friend of a friend......)

"Some information about the effects of the earthquake in the Langtang Valley, as well as the rest of Rasuwa:

The village of Langtang was the site of the largest single catastrophe, as the entirety of village was completely buried by an avalanche that came from thousands of feet above on the southern slopes of Langtang Lirung and Langtang II. Smaller settlements on the outskirts of Langtang, such as Chyamki, Thangsyap, and Mundu were also buried. It is impossible to determine exactly how many people died there, but the estimate is perhaps over 300 people in total. The handful of survivors, roughly twelve locals and two foreigners, walked down to Ghodatabela below after spending the night of the 25th in a cave - thus there is no one at Langtang itself. This avalanche is perhaps 2-3 kilometers wide, and is obstructing movement within the upper valley corridor. Currently two large groups are stranded above and below (due to several intensive and recurring landslides in the steep sections between Ghodatabela and Lama Hotel).

Above, at Kyangjin Gompa, there were reportedly fewer casualties (perhaps 5-10) yet many injured. Most of the injured have been evacuated via helicopter and there is an army medic team in place. Yet, currently, the problem is one of food shortage and illness. I have heard that the majority of the settlement, including the gompa, is remarkably intact. There is a smaller group of about 30-40 at the settlement of Sindum, about 4km below Kyangjin and closer to Langtang. This group has excavated several bodies from the major avalanche zone. They have also evacuated many of the injured, but are facing severe food shortages and illness (hopefully remedied by Nepal Army reinforcements and supplies on the evening of the 27th. Above Kyangjin Gompa, there were several smaller groups and climbing teams exploring the Upper Langtang valley, in a very high avalanche risk zone – I do not have good information on these groups, so please contact the respective embassies to determine who has been accounted for and evacuated via Kyangjim. As of the evening of April 27th, there was perhaps 120-140 people remaining above Langtang who need to be evacuated.

Below, at Ghodatabela (where I was located during the earthquake for roughly 55 hours following the event) several large landslides
Pre-earthquake photo
were triggered from all directions, the largest from perhaps 1,500 meters above just below the settlement, completely obstructing passage. The two guesthouses there were partially destroyed by large boulders, and the army checkpoint barracks collapsed during the earthquake. The night after the quake, there were two groups sleeping in separate fields by the river, keeping distance from ongoing landslides and rockfall that continued throughout the night. The first Nepal Army helicopter arrived at about 8:30am, which dropped a “medic team” and took the injured from the upper camp; the second helicopter took more from the upper camp, a chaotic mix of Nepalis and foreigners. The group from below then moved up to the Army checkpost to evacuate their injured, however, the Army helicopter never came back (we were told due to fuel shortage and/or weather – however the Army did not have a radio or phone, or any means of communicating). After these helicopters came, Nepali survivors arrived from above and below, carrying several injured – this was the group closest to the avalanche – yet, unfortunately, the Army had no way of communicating this to the rescue teams. This added a high level of uncertainty to hours of extreme grief, as Nepalis arriving from above and below realized the scale of their loss.

24 hours after the slide, the Army then moved the group to a single location across the river, which proved to be the safest location. In the evening, a private helicopter (with limited seats) arrived to evacuate a group of three Nepalis, yet they were replaced with the five most injured Nepali children (thankfully, yet forcefully). After this, a few of us worked with the Nepal Army to establish a formal triage list, which was 25 Nepalis and 2 foreigners (one Dutch and one Italian) for the next large Army helicopter, which arrived the next morning. We successfully loaded the sick onto the helicopter, with a few other family members accompanying them at roughly 10am on April 27th. The army helicopter did not come back again until 645pm, and in between a private helicopter (a single pilot who did seven trips that day singlehandedly, pro bono) took two small groups of 6 people from Ghodatabela. The loading of all these helicopters was a highly chaotic experience, owing to both fear and ineffective/confused management on behalf of the Army. Communication improved throughout, but fell apart during the most emotional moments. At Ghodatabela, there was originally roughly 65 foreigners and perhaps 110 Nepalis - as of the night of April 27th there were still about 40 foreigners and 60 Nepalis stranded there. My hope is that another helicopter has been coordinated for this morning (I will refrain from the time being from being overly critical of the helicopter evacuation system, there are pros and cons), yet I fear that many evacuation attempts were limited by the storm system that came this afternoon.
As of April 28th, as the aftershocks/tremors and rockfall have largely subsided, I was told that a few groups have successfully traveled from Ghodatabela through Sherpagaun via the high trail to Syaphru Besi. This is good news for the remaining, yet this is highly risky.

Elsewhere in Rasuwa, around Briddim and Lingling and in several places along the road from Dhunche to Betrawati, in places such as Grang and Ramche, the majority of houses collapsed. I am not sure of the casualties caused by structural collapse. The Dhunche road itself seemed passable from the air, as there are no new large slides (other than the existing monsoonal ones), but I was told by someone walking from Syaphru Besi to Kalikasthan that a member of their group had fallen to their death while travelling. Along the Trishuli River valley itself, there are other smaller landslides and reports of significant collapse at Mailung, Simle, and Archale. In Betrawati, Gerkhu, and Mhanegaun in bordering Nuwakot district several houses also collapsed, and there were casualties in all of these places.

The current data on total casualties following the earthquake here in Nepal is approaching 4,500. However, this is probably an underestimate considering that the estimate for the entire district of Rasuwa is 250, and there are at least 300 dead in the area around the village of Langtang alone. Across the board, it is still very difficult to determine exactly what has occurred in remote areas off the road system, as communication is down. Considered in terms of the percentage of total population, my sense is that Rasuwa has likely the third highest rate of fatality, behind Sindhupalchowk (at the epicenter of the major aftershock) and Dhading (closer to the center of the earthquake). Again, Langtang is probably one of the greatest single tragedies of this earthquake.

This is the latest news that I have as of 5pm on April 28th."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Update # 1 Nepal - Just One Sherpa Family

Nima with his daughter and mother, pre-earthquake

We just spoke with Nima Sherpa, 30 year old son of Ang Nima, our trek sirdar and family to us since 1991. Nima now guiding and in the summer he takes work in Norway as a stone mason.

Their home is still standing in Khunde, Khumbu Everest region, but severely damaged, as are all the others. Nima says that everyone is  sleeping outside in tents till their homes can be torn down and rebuilt. It took years upon years of hard work as mountain guides and lodge owners to finally reach a point where their lives were starting to get comfortable, their children are being educated and families starting to enjoy the comforts of western life. In 20 seconds it's gone!

Nima is trying to get out of Nepal to go to work in Norway to raise money for new construction costs. He managed to get a helicopter lift just now that was taking an Everest avalanche victim to Kathmandu. He is not able to access the consulate for a visa because of the chaos and destruction in Kathmandu,  he's now caught up in the mix of millions of Nepalese trying  to put the pieces back together of a shattered life.

Nima confirms that all Peak Freaks staff are safe, no loss of life of any of our people.  Our team and families has managed to dodge the bullet once again.

Grateful everyone is alive - rebuilding we can do!

Becky & Tim

Photos Nima sent just now:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Nepal Earthquake Relief Appeal

Hello everyone,

Please consider this organization for donations to help victims in Nepal. Durga and Fionna have been
doing wonderful things in Nepal for years, they are near and dear to us. Your money will go directly to those in need and not filtered through the hands of the Nepalese government and other relief agencies.

One of their recent projects is building earth bag homes. These homes survived the earthquake. Their knowledge and energy can spread throughout the Himalayas as a way of the future for safe affordable housing in the mountainous regions.

The Khumbu (Everest region) faired pretty good all considered, people in the city are in arms reach of foreign aid. We worry about the people in the rural areas devastated by the earthquake. These people will get help to them.

Thank you for your support if you can.

Tim and Becky Rippel

Michelle Moffatt · Friends with Fionna Heiton
BBC Radio has just mentioned that Sindhupalchok where FSH operates has been very badly affected by the earthquake with Government estimating the loss of 40,000 homes there....Fionna Heiton reports that the recent earth bag constructed education centre for kindergarten children has stayed standing after the earthquake. I second you Tim in recommending FSH to be supported to construct many more earthquake proof child centres and educate young children. Education is the route out of the cycle of poverty that blights Nepal.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Climber Update Everest Base Camp Earthquake

Email from Gabriel Filippi, climbing Lhotse 2015' Expedition

Hi Becky and Tim.
As you now heard, Nepal is being hit hard with this earthquake. We heard Phortse , Khumjung and possibly Namche hitted hard. 
As for basecamp, it is a complete chaos and mess. It was closed to noon when I got out of my tent and the intensity of earthquake was felt. The ground was moving and shaking really hard. I then heard a big woosh. I turned around and saw thru the snow and fog this massive cloud of annavalanche coming from Pumori. It was covering the entire backdrop of basecamp. i yelled run to the people in the area. Even if we are at the end of the basecamp, I had a hard time breathing while hiding behind a huge rock. Only Himex , IMG and us were spared damage. Most hitted are AC, JG, Dreamers Destination, MM/RMI with camps completely destroyed and loss of Sherpas and climbers. I immediately took my medical kit and went with my friend Sylvie who is anesthesiologist. We didnt stop until 6pm trying to save life. At that point all injured were in 4 mess tents( 3 IMG, 1 Asian trekking). Some are badly injured, lots of head injuries open skull. Weather not permitting heli rescue, we will lose some more. Some are missing, dont know if they ran down or died in khumbu (avalanche triggered there plus Nuptse avalanche). Doctors are monitoring injured ones tonight and  other group of doctors will rotate tomorrow morning. Numbers of deaths is unknown, it range between 12 and 27 right now. Too much of a mess at this point in time. Praying for good weather . People at C1,C2 are okay but the way back down could be a challenge as fixed rope condition is unknown. 
I think everyone will end their expedition. We were already way behind schedule. Now with many teams without camp sherpas etc, it is time to take care of injured ones and then go home. Russell is in KTM, he was trying to solve the Pakistan government new rule of Sherpa not allowed to climb in Pakistan. 

Bedtime before another long day ahead. 


Friday, April 24, 2015

Sherpa cons Everest climbers $100K

We've given several warnings on Everest  due climate change, thorny politics and so on, but here's another warning that has caught us by surprise. Climbers beware!


Tour operator cons Everest climbers

Nine foreign climbers planning a Mount Everest ascent have been conned out of US$100,000 by a Nepalese tour operator who absconded with the money.

Local police have launched a manhunt for Tshering Dorje Sherpa of Himalayan Alpine Adventure Treks after he took possession of the money ahead of the expedition.

Nikolas Mangitsis, team leader of the Greek expedition, Hellas Everest Expedition 2015, told The Himalayan Times eight Greek nationals and one Indian climber paid the Sherpa in cash for a 50-day climb which was due to begin on April 17.

The climbers were scheduled to depart for base camp in Tibet last week by land route to scale the 8,848-metre peak's North Ridge.

"The nine climbers and their five Nepali support staff waited for him but Sherpa did not show up. He just vanished with their money and Chinese visas," said Nabin Trital, the managing director of another trekking agency  who was helping the Sherpa secure climbing permits for the group.

"This is the first such case in the history of mountaineering expeditions in Nepal," said Ang Tshering Sherpa, president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Everest 2015- Time for Change

Since beginning our operations over 24 years ago, it has always been a challenge to navigate through the complex and ever-changing political, social, and environmental aspects inherent in running a climbing and trekking operation in the Himalayas. The pay-off nonetheless has always been worth it – to our clients, to our Sherpa’s and their families, and to us. And as much as last year’s tragic events highlighted both the need for better safety regulations and a reassessment of the business which climbing Everest has become, our present concerns and consequent conclusions come from a much larger set of worrying circumstances.
The local government’s fickle posturing and vague statements regarding possible rule changes for mountaineering permits, the drastic alterations to the weather both traditional ENSO and ENSO Modoki have and will continue to cause, the growing list of socio-political events which has a cumulative effect of compromising regional security, present us with only one responsible and rational course of action. We at Peak Freaks are cancelling our commercial Everest 2015 summit climb. As clear as this decision has become it is still far from an easy one for us to have come to. The financial impact on our partners, our Sherpa’s, will be severe.
The patience and loyalty of our clients will be taxed. Even so, our love for the region and what we do remains intact. Our determination to continue expeditions and our commitment to those who welcomed us to the Himalayas almost a quarter century ago and who continue to work by our side has inspired us. It has inspired us to widen our offerings. To provide adventures free from thorny politics, crumbling glaciers, and looming ice-falls. After all, the majesty of the Himalayas should never be locked away.
So on the eve of our sad Everest news we hope solace can be found knowing that Peak Freaks will not close its doors. Instead it will open paths for adventurers to climb other challenging and awe-inspiring peaks, to take cultural tours through the highest lands of Nepal and Tibet, and to experience unconditionally this magical kingdom we now call our second home.

 Tim & Becky Rippel