Monday, May 11, 2015

Himalaya 2015: Nepal is the Outdoor Industry at its Finest

It has been more than two weeks since the tragic earthquake rattled Nepal, claiming the lives of thousands of people and shattering an already fragile infrastructure. Over that period of time, there has been an outpouring of support from a number of nations, organizations, and influential individuals from across the globe, as the international community scrambles to provide aid to a nation that is only just beginning to recover.

Amongst those lending a hand are a number of prominent gear manufacturers, adventure travel companies, nonprofits, and other organizations associated with the outdoor community. In fact, when you stop to take a look at the concerted efforts that have taken place on a number of different fronts, it is impossible to not be impressed by the response to this crisis. Companies like Mountain Hardwear, Sherpa Adventure Gear, and Keen footwear – just to name a few –  have all raised tens of thousands of dollars to help with rescue and recovery efforts in Nepal. Most of that money has come from their customers, many of whom have a vested interest in seeing the Himalayan country rebuilt.

The efforts to help the cause aren't just confined to outdoor gear companies however. G Adventures and Intrepid Travel both immediately began raising funds to help Nepal, and so far they have brought in more than $200,000 and $300,000 AUD respectively. The two travel companies had trekking groups in the country at the time of the earthquake, and so their staff knows first hand just how dangerous and devastating the situation truly was. Fortunately, no one on those trips was injured, and they all got home safely. Both G and Intrepid are committed to returning to Nepal with future groups of travelers as well, as tourism dollars will be crucial to rebuilding the economy there.

My friends at the Himalayan Stove Project have been very active since the earthquake as well. The organization that is dedicated to delivering clean cook stoves to the people of Nepal has mobilized its resources within the country to not only help survey the damage that has been done, but to roll out more of its stoves to regions that have been hit so hard that they don't have the resources necessary to subsist on daily basis. In some parts of the country, entire villages have been wiped off the map, and thousands of people are without homes. But efforts on the part of the team at HSP have helped to deliver cook stoves to those areas, allowing survivors to at least start to feed their families, as well as others who are still struggling to come to terms with the level of destruction that has hit the country. The organization is also working on sourcing tents from nearby India, which can be used as temporary shelters while the rebuilding process starts to get underway.

Similarly, Eureka! has joined forces with the Seva Foundation to provide tents for the citizens of Nepal as well. The company is also providing hundreds of tents and sleeping pads, with much of the gear already being shipped to the village of Ghiling, which has been almost completely destroyed, and the entire population has been sleeping outside. The goal is to provide some kind of shelter for the homeless, particularly as the summer monsoon season nears.

This is, of course, just a small sampling of the fantastic effort being put fourth by so many in the outdoor adventure and travel industry over the past few weeks. It has been incredibly inspiring and heartwarming to see so many organizations rally to support Nepal, a country that is the very epitome of the word "adventure." While there is a long road to recovery ahead, with continued efforts like these, we can help Nepal start that process in the best way possible, and perhaps come out of this situation stronger than ever. I'm proud of the outdoor industry for what it has accomplished so far, and I'm happy to be associated with these organizations, even if in just some small way.

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