|When Tragedy Occurs
In April of 2014, the most devastating tragedy in the history of Everest took the lives of 16 Sherpa and indigenous Nepali climbers.
The Khumbu Climbing Center works to educate indigenous Nepali and Sherpa climbers and to lessen the risk of injury or death in their professions as high altitude guides.
Avalanche danger can be mitigated more easily in lower mountain ranges where one can dig pits and try to access safety but it is much more difficult on high altitude peaks with moving glaciers. It is known that the Khumbu Ice Fall and the Popcorn Field where the recent disaster occurred is a dangerous place. The best one can do is to watch the mountain and be cautious if there is any new snow or sign of avalanche. The next best option is to move as quickly through the objective danger as possible but the Sherpa teams must travel through these obstacles many times as they carry gear and establish the routes and camps for western climbers. Their risk is far greater because they spend far more time in those dangerous zones.
The ALCF established the Widow Relief Fund to earmark donations for the families of Sherpas lost in their extremely dangerous vocation, working in the high mountains. As a widow myself, I am deeply empathetic to the families of mountain casualties. When I lost Alex in 1999, there was a great outpouring of support and generosity to my family. It helped. Although most working Sherpa have a small insurance policy, it is not enough to compensate for the loss of a major wage earner. Many families live in remote areas of the Khumbu or Solu region. Our trusted on the ground staff in Nepal and at KCC is willing and able to help dispense funds to the families of those lost. They are the KCC family.
To update you, we have been working very closely with the Juniper Fund, the American Alpine Club and the American Himalayan Foundation (AHF) to combine data and collected funds for secure allocation directly to families, providing ongoing care for years to come. A portion of our money will go to a scholarship fund for children of deceased climbers, enabling them to access continuing education. To date we have sent a nominal amount of funds to families for prayers or funeral expenses and we have disbursed clothing for family members gifted by The North Face, Patagonia and prAna.
I will be traveling to Nepal next week and will have another update for you next month when I return.
We are greatly indebted to the generosity of all who have donated!
With Sincere Thanks!