So, are you going back to Everest?! I should have known that posting photos of Lukla Airport would send the Twitter sphere into a frenzy. It’s like when I met Noddy Holder from Slade recently at Pride of Britain. Thirty years later and he can’t go anywhere without being asked if it’s Christmas yet…
Obviously, I’m no musical legend. But I have become known for something – my journey to climb Mount Everest.
**I had drafted a full blog post about that journey but only a few hours ago had some devastating news which caused me to basically clear the page and start again.
So, why am I flying back to Nepal tomorrow?
Well, now there’s an even bigger reason.
After the Nepal earthquake during Everest 2015 I stayed with Tashi and Lakpa in a tiny village called Kyangjuma, near Namche Bazaar, on the Everest base camp trail. They own a teahouse ‘Ama Dablam Lodge’, hugely popular with trekkers for their charm, hospitality and amazing views – Tashi is the most remarkable lady I’ve ever met. Their teahouse does extremely well. But instead of cashing in her own fortune she gives so much back to her local community, supporting less affluent families who don’t benefit from the passing tourist trade, as well as finding Westerners to sponsor them too.
Last time, Tashi told me about a local young girl, Jyoti, now seven years old. Her family struggle to afford the lodging fees for her to attend school, so with the support of Mum and Gran, we now pay this annually. Communication can be difficult hence I will be trekking to meet Jyoti and her family to see the difference being made.
Tashi called me on Facetime just this morning saying how excited she was to see me again. Only hours later I received a message from Tim Mosedale, my Everest expedition leader. Her teahouse burnt down to the ground this afternoon. It’s uncertain how – but it now means that Lakpa and Tashi are homeless and without a livelihood. The people who have given so much to support others through hard times are now the ones needing the support themselves, to rebuild their home before the trekking season begins next year. Tashi had an amazing prayer room made in memory of her son who died suddenly. This took nearly a month to build. It’s heartbreaking. Once again tragedy has struck and life does the cruellest things to the best people. ‘Good timing’ doesn’t seem appropriate, but I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to go in person and help in any small way that I can.
In addition to the money for Jyoti, I will be taking as much as I can to support Tashi and Lakpa. If you’d like to donate PLEASE give what you can – any amount big or small will go a long way, please contact me on email@example.com and I can take the money to her directly next week – or donate to Tim’s JustGiving fund here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/timmosedale
Some of you may remember I attempted to climb the sixth highest peak in the world, Cho Oyu, last Autumn. During that expedition I spent a lot of time getting to know Lakpa Thundu, a climbing Sherpa on our team. For a man of such humble nature he possessed the heart and strength of a lion. In just a short time Thundu became a firm friend who took such great care of me when I was very ill and close to being sent home. He was truly one of a kind and touched the hearts of many.
Tragically, Thundu was killed in an avalanche on Ama Dablam only a few weeks later. It only felt right to return his selflessness by helping his family, who have now lost their father, husband and breadwinner. With huge thanks to the generosity of so many others from the UK to New Zealand, we raised £488.50 to help Bandi support their two boys through school. It doesn’t seem much but this amount can go a long way in Nepal. I didn’t want to cause any extra grief or upset, especially as it was the one-year anniversary only yesterday, but Bandi happily suggested to meet me in Kathmandu when I arrive on Saturday so I can give it to them in person.
It’s strange how things coincide. After Cho Oyu I was contacted by a local charity, The Eifion Trust, who needed someone to visit and report back on a few of their projects in remote and less accessible areas. On their behalf this gave an amazing opportunity to explore new parts of Nepal and to see how the country is rebuilding after the earthquake far-removed from the Everest region. This also involves speaking to an entire high school (approx. 1000 pupils) which should be a new challenge! And visiting the PHASE Worldwide head office too: as their ambassador it will be great to meet the people ‘on the ground’ and where the money from our Walk4Nepal events has gone.
And as well as charity commitments, I also wanted to get lost. Not literally – but to get some time away in the mountains. There’s no better place to clear your head than the Himalayas, even if it’s with an altitude headache. From Lukla I planned to trek as far as Gokyo, but now I’ll likely stay in Kyangjuma (well – nearby) and doing what I can to help Lakpa and Tashi clear things up instead.
On my original blog I had written about Christmas being hugely challenging for anyone with an eating disorder and mental health challenges, and that getting away for a while would keep me afloat. But that can wait for another blog post… That’s not important now. Spending time in Nepal with people who have so little yet give so much, and those who have lost everything, only puts our own challenges into perspective. After the tragic events today it reminds us just how much we have to be grateful for and helping those in need. Isn’t that what Christmas should be all about?
When Everest stands in my view, who knows whether the goose-bumps will hit me once again. But for now at least, my Everest is helping others to overcome theirs.