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Matt Fioretti- Guide/Owner- has led 20 expeditions and has 35 seasons of experience at altitude.

Matt Fioretti- Guide/Owner- has led 20 expeditions and has 35 seasons of experience at altitude.
Matt Fioretti - Guide/Owner has led 20 expeditions and has 36 seasons of experience at altitude.




About Four Winds


HISTORY

Four Winds Himalayan Guide Service has been guiding trips in the Himalaya since 1994. We have more than 19 years and 34 seasons of experience at altitude, including 19 successful climbing expeditions. With an emphasis on uncrowded treks and remote climbs, clients leave Nepal/Tibet having experienced the rich culture, ancient trails, and the intense climbing available in the Himalaya. Founder Matt Fioretti has been Alpine climbing since 1984 and brings 26 years of experience to the high altitude arena. Chapa Sherpa and Singa Lama joined Matt early on and bring with them more than 30 years combined experience on the trails and steep faces of the high peaks. The accumulation of years and passion for the mountains between the 3 individuals insures a safe, rare adventure.


GROUP SIZE

Our trips are intimate. We allow only 6 to 9 trekkers and 2 to 6 climbers on a journey. You can call the owner Matt Fioretti at home or office anytime prior to the trek or climb. Weather your on a climb or trek, individual attention is one of our top priorities. You can expect prompt, courteous responses to your questions. Pre-trip orientations allow for everyone to receive a comfortable knowledge about the journey. While on the trek our adherence to small group size helps members become brother and sister, a camaraderie that often lasts for years afterwards. The intimacy is extended to our Sherpa and Nepali friends. We have created lasting relationships with the locals. Our group is greeted with a warmth that suggests we are part of the family. You feel at home and get a “backstage” view into the culture.


ABILITY

Almost anyone can do a trek in the Himalaya. You can be a beginner and feel comfortable with our experienced staff. Our age group has spanned 11 to 79 years old. The pace is slow and comfortable, each day hiking village to village and traversing the highest mountain range in the world. Everyone has acclimatized on our treks because of the calm pace and expertise of the guides. For the more advanced we offer guided and commercial climbs. Climbers with experience but daunted by the idea of high altitude, are taught expedition skills and the logistics of climbing a big mountain in a safe environment. For those who don’t need a guide we offer commercial trips. This means we handle all the logistics and red tape that are inherent in the Nepal Permit system, but you go as a climbing team member proficient at climbing.


SAFETY

Safety is our number one priority. Each group is registered with the American Embassy in Kathmandu and is equipped with a satalite phone. In 18 years of leading trips on the trails and mountains of Nepal our safety record is flawless.


Join us. We are personable, professional, fun, and have years of experience at altitude.

We specialize in the Himalaya of Nepal so you will have a transformational, adventure. One cannot walk through the Himalaya with out being changed or experiencing some shift in the soul.




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Trekking and Climbing Shedule

Please call for possible openings for 2016. Now taking deposits for April, 2016, and 2016 trips

2016 March Expedition- We want to return to Pachermo in the Rowaling Valley. Join this amazing expedition to gain high altitude experience. No crowds, great climbing, remote. We will allow only 3 on this trip. 27 days door to door.

April 2016 Trek- Trek the 5 holy lakes in the Gokyo area. Hike to the summit of a 17700 foot peak. Cross a 17660 foot pass, visit 2 monasteries while trekking village to village. 20 days door to door. All abilities. 3 spaces left

September 2016 - Pilgrimage Mt. Kailash - Tibet's holy mountain. A true extreme hike and adventure. Hiking over the crest of the Himalaya in Nepal to Tibet. Then circumambulating Tibet's holy mountain on pilgrimage with Tibetans. Must be in excellent physical condition. 7 to 9 hour hiking days at altitude. 4 spaces left.

Sept. -October 2016 and 2017 - Ama Dablam Expedition. Four Winds has led 3 expeditions to Ama Dablam and we will return in 2016. A classic climb to test your climbing ability. 5.8 rock, AI 2 Ice, all mixed with altitude make this a challenging climb. spaces available


October 2016 Trek- Trek the 5 holy lakes in the Gokyo area. Hike to the summit of a 17700 foot peak. Cross a 17660 foot pass and visit 2 monasteries while trekking village to village. All abilities. 6 Spaces Left

For more information and pricing please email or call.

Phone: 206-282-0472

Email: fourwindsexpedtions@gmail.com


Website: fourwindsexpeditions.com


Greg Valentine and Matt Fioretti did the first ascent of Nireka in a 2 day alpine style push.

Greg Valentine and Matt Fioretti did the first ascent of Nireka in a 2 day alpine style push.
Nearing the summit on the first ascent of Nireka. Four Winds strives to do peaks that are uncrowded, remote, and rarely done. On many of our expeditions we are the only team on the mountain.

Matt Fioretti eyeing the South Ridge of Cholatse

Matt Fioretti eyeing the South Ridge of Cholatse



What clients have to say....


True to his word, Matt was committed to safety on our trek to Nepal.He is knowledgeable, organized and has a positive attitude which is infectious. Matt is well loved in the communities we visited. The respect and admiration he has developed with the Nepali people created a unique, enhanced and truly exceptional experience for our group. Thanks, Matt! October 2013 Trek.

K. Baker


Going to Nepal was like stepping into the pages of National Geographic with the color, chaos and crowds of Kathmandu to the breathtakingly beautiful snow capped Himalayas. Matt had said we would stay with friends (I read business associates; I was wrong). These people were Matt's second family and they treated us as family. I didn't have as much vacation time as the rest of my group, so I returned early. It snowed one night and the inn keeper, Urken wouldn't let me leave until the trail was broken. A little while later I looked out the window and Urken was up on the mountain checking the trail for me. He came back in and said it was safe to go now. Later as I was crossing one of many suspension bridges, my porter, Prem, ran ahead of me to stop the yak train from starting across the bridge until I had finished crossing. With Matt's group you're not a tourist, you're part of Nepal, you're family.


Namaste,

Kathy


“It has been years since I went with Matt and his crew to Ama Dablam and crazy as it sounds, it still feels like yesterday. The experience was one that is hard to put into words, when you are there amongst the people and grandeur of the Himalayas you feel all at once small and insignificant, yet more real and present than ever. I carry the essence and spirit of that journey with me everyday. Just go… more than that, go with Matt.”


I was just shy of 60 when I did the Everest Trail Trek with Matt. It was one of the most memorable events in my life! I loved it! And I learned some trekking lessons that apply to the rest of life, as well---like "Pace yourself." Those of us who did pace ourselves made it to the magnificent Everest Base Camp area at 17,000'. Throughout the entire trek we always felt secure with wonderfully kind Sherpas always there to lend a hand and encourage us onward. It was a grand initial experience into trekking that held so very many gifts from beginning to end.

Port Townsend



"My trips to Nepal with Four Winds were life-changing experiences, in the best possible way. Being halfway around the world, in an unfamiliar place, thousands of miles away from everything you know, can be a scary situation, but when you're with Matt, there's a comfort level. It feels like all of Nepal is your family."

M. Mahoney



Yes, the trek stands out as one of my life's most amazing experiences, certainly because of the Himalayas magnificence, but also due to our group's lighthearted, playful camaraderie, the welcoming arms of the locals at the teahouses where you had been before, evening card games, and the way you kept us always under your protective eye ... checking every day for our oxygen saturation levels, making sure we drank enough water, stopping for rest when needed, and also encouraging us along, like on Gokyo Ri, for those last panting steps, so that I might not miss the view of one of the world's most spectacular, breath-taking sights ... and yet, I never felt pampered or stifled, as you simultaneously offered ample space for us to move in our own rhythms, moods and pace.

If I never properly said thanks to you before for all that Matt ... Thanks!!! ... the experience will continue to resonate within me for my lifetime!


Some things that are extraordinary about Nepal and going with Four Winds. Kids smiling faces, fluffy clouds, the aroma of incense, village life, and the journey in the mountains. I especially liked the pace of the trek. I could go at my own pace and felt comfortable. Tim S.


With Matt I have successfully climbed a 6000 meter peak and a 8000 meter peak in the Himalaya even though I suffer from a liver disease. The first was Naya Kanga, 6000M, post -monsoon , in the Langtang region near Ganga La. The friends I made have become lifelong best friends, not only the fellow trekkers but the sherpas as well, like Singi and Sangi who brought me milk tea (Dudh Chai)and cheese on the descent. The Four Winds staff, assistants and Sherpas, make the journey possible. When climbing Cho Oyu from Tibet we spent 7 weeks in the Dingri Region and 4 weeks above 20K feet, climbing to 27,500 feet without oxygen. Matt, being the consummate guide escorted a sick teammate back to BC. Two of the five members made the summit. When I go back it will be with Four Winds and fortunately with Matt who also had a serious illness sidetrack him, but who has already made his recovery and found his way back to the Himalayas. This is the true meaning of meeting life's challenges, and this is what you can achieve with Four Winds. Hope to see you on the high mountains. Namaste!

Glen Anders


Matt and Four Winds Himalayan Guide Service kindled in me a deep love of alpine climbing on my first trip to Nepal in 1999. This first trip taught me a lot and I have returned to Nepal with Matt four times since. Matt has a deep love and respect for the indigenous culture of the Sherpa people of the Khumbu, and in his 20 year dealings with the people in that region, he has established many deep friendships; it is especially remarkable to share in these connections with him. I have always felt safe when climbing with Matt. He has developed good mountain sense over the years, and his motto "may the four winds blow you safely home" is a propos of his climbing philosophy which holds safety in high regard. Matt is also a fountainhead of ideas, and has always provided a source of inspiration for those seekers who take to the mountains. I have learned a lot from Matt's personal struggles with aplastic anemia, and his return to active climbing continues to inspire many people to see mountains as metaphors for the challenges we all face in life. I have Matt to thank for what has developed into a life-long passion for me. It all started with one trip to the Himalaya.




My journey to Nepal with Matt and Four Winds was inspirational and life-transforming. Matt's expertise in guiding allowed us to safely explore the exquisite beauty of the Himalayas and experience Nepal's fascinating culture. We always felt welcome wherever we went, as Matt has formed incredible connections with the people of Kathmandu, the sherpas who gently encouraged us, and the families who brought us into their homes and fed us delicious meals. Nepal is a hiker and climber's paradise and an adventurer's dream. It's beauty is truly divine. The journey has made a permanent impact on the way I live my life, appreciate nature and take risks. I highly recommend traveling with Four Winds! Aileen P.



The smell was of burning lantern oils and incense. The colors were the bluest of blues for the sky and the whitest of whites for the clouds. The sounds were of another language, and the ringing of yak bells were soothing to my ears late into the night. The touch of the air was bitter cold in a soothing way. The taste of the food was bland, yet sweet and interesting to my taste buds. When I close my eyes and think back on this journey , it was the most romantic thing I have aver experienced on my own. I have returned with Four Winds 3 times. David Frisk



“Thank you Matt for my wonderful trip to Nepal. It really changed my life forever” Jeanne


Matt, I wanted to officially thank you for a seamless trip to Nepal which you made fun and easy. The trip and all its details were extremely well thought out. With all your planning, I never had to worry about any of the details one would normally have to deal with when traveling half way around the world. I also felt priviledged and protected to be under the many watchful eyes of all the friends you have made over the years (Gombu, Qayoom, Dawafuti & family, Tsedem, etc). Even when I branched off on my own your friends were there to make sure I was safe and happy (Hira, Ramesh, etc). If it wasnt for you and your flexible, can-do attitude, I would never have made this trip to the wonderful and amazing Nepal. D. Oxford


My trip to Nepal was life alterning and I owe so much of that to Matt and his team. He has such a passion for the country and the people that my trip was anything but ordinary. While we were taken to many of the main tourist attraction sites, we were also shown sites of Nepal that few tourists rarely see. My trek back to the 5th holy lake at Goyko will forever be in my heart as one of the greatest experiences of my life. Matt was in constant communication about changes to the intinerary (a common fact when traveling in the third world) and always worked diligently to ensure that things went as smoothly as possible, and that we were getting the best experiences everyday. His easy going personality allows for lots of laughs with quick and lasting bonds being formed. I am grateful to have found Matt and his team. I didn't have one bad expereince on this trip and I look forward to when I will be able to go again!


Everest at sunset from 20,000 ft.Everest Sunset from Pumori.

Everest at sunset from 20,000 ft.Everest Sunset from Pumori.

Nuptse

Nuptse
Taken from Camp I -Pumori

Pumori

Pumori
S. W. Ridge. Pumori

We are insignificant

We are insignificant
Trekkers at 16,000 feet dwarfed by some of the smaller peaks in Nepal. Have trouble acclimatizing? Our treks are designed so everyone acclimatizes.

Nirekha- 5th pitch

Nirekha- 5th pitch
Join us in October 2015 on this beautiful climb

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Four Winds Nepal Relief Part 6

Rice or money?  I called Urkin in the afternoon of July 12th and finally came to the conclusion that money would help them in this situation better than more rice.  Urkin Sherpa and Tsedam Sherpa had explained that getting the rice from the bazaar in Namche and portering it would be costly and less efficient.  The families could make money go farther than we could and that made sense.  We would walk to the village of Khumjung about 2 hours away to meet Urkin in the morning and work over logistics on how the money would be distributed and how much would be given.

Early in the morning sometime around 2am rain created a rhythmical patter on the tin roof of the tea house.  I was awake with jet lag and within a few minutes the rhythm of the rain had me sleeping.  

In the morning as light filtered into the room I could just make out the mountains across the valley.  The gentle giant Thamserku and its south west aspect went from steel gray to light lavender with the slow rise of the sun,  22,000 foot wall of snow and ice casting a brilliant light show.  The rain had stopped sometime in the night and the contrast of pattering to empty silence coupled with the Himalaya outlined in my window made my soul happy.  Delivering the donated money to families in need made me even happier and I sent out a brief thought of thankfulness and gratitude to all who had donated.

We started out around 8:30 and had planned to meet Urkin Sherpa around 11.  If you love walking this is one walk you may want to do in your life time.  The section between Namche and Khumjung is short but contains multi faceted worlds.  A typical thought pattern while on this walk might go like this:


“Oh look there the south face of Lhotse, the 4th highest peak in the world”
“Oh look there is a 300 year old Himalayan Birch grove”
“Oh look there an 800 year old monastery on the hillside of Khunde”
“Oh look there a 60 foot tall Rhododendron forest”
“Oh look there, it’s Mt Everest”

These are just a few of the hundreds of experiences on the short walk at 12,400 feet to Khumjung.   On this day we would encounter something unexpected and inspirational as if the experiences above were not enough.  The trail connects right into the center of the village which also serves as the school play ground.  Unlike our play grounds it is worn tundra with rocks, sticks and an uneven, rolling pitch.  There were groups of young adults taking down tents and volley ball nets.  It was like they were disassembling after a fair.  A familiar voice called out to me and there standing up from rolling a tarp was my friend Pemba Sherpa.  He is from the village of Gokyo one days walk away for Sherpas or 3 days walk for us lowlanders.  We greeted each other and I asked what was going on.  He said they had just finished a 3 day volley ball tournament.  Volley ball at 12,400 feet and the mountainous setting filtered through my mind.  As we continued the conversation it came to light that they had planned the tournament months before and decided it was in everyone’s best interest to continue with the tournament even though the earthquake had just ravished the country.  He said it was very helpful in relieving the current stress.  All I could think was what an amazingly resilient people.  

We continued on to Urkin’s house where we could see him waving from the front of his home way up on the terraced hillside. 

The meeting went well and within an hour and the well thought out list that Urkin had created, we came up with a good plan.  Urkin’s list contained 40 families and individuals who were the poorest of the poor,  including elderly who had no family and handicapped.  We chose to pick 20 of the families and individuals who needed help the most.  For example one of the women on the list was living in a structure donated by the village.  She had nothing and was probably in her sixties.  The house she was in collapsed.  Although she survived she had nothing but a hot plate, a cot pieced together out of scrap wood, a few containers holding food, and a dirt floor. The structure’s roof was open to the elements because the roof now lay strewn on the floor. I remember looking up into puffy clouds and a black crow crossing the site line as I stood inside the middle of the shelter.  She put her bed against the wall where there was a section of the roof teetering over head giving her some coverage from the elements.  The dirt floor was mushy from rain.  This was one of the 20 emotional visits we made in the village of Khumjung. 

Others included visiting the village healer who was blind and had no family,  a deaf mom with 2 kids who’s husband had died guiding on Mt Everest, and an elderly couple in their nineties who were now living in a group of circled rocks with a plastic tarp spread over the top and sides.  The husband lay inside the make shift shanty.  Urkin explained to us that after the earth quake the husband had gone into a state of shock  and had not moved from the bed since, almost 2 months prior.  This was one of the stories that had me shattered inside.  I plan to go back to them to make another donation.

We went to what was left of each house and visited 20 in need.  We ended up giving $100 to 20 families.  In April I hope to go through the other 20 families on the list with Urkin and see what we can do.  

At the end of the day your donations touched so many deeply.  When we handed the money over to each recipient the smiles creased every face from ear to ear and immense gratitude was shown in body movement and through eye contact. I noticed that even though the hardship, loss, pain and suffering was great, most of the people could truly smile and go about their lives and move beyond.  

On this day the moral to the story that stuck with me was “When an earthquake or something tears your world apart, go and play volley ball”

That is were we were at on July 13th.  




Friday, September 18, 2015

Four Winds Nepal Relief Part 5

Imagine 65 children between the ages of 4 and 9 chanting a prayer before drinking a cup of tea. This is what we woke to in the early morning light at Nacmche Bazaar on July12th. Mugs of hot black tea breathed steam in front of each child. The prayer was Tibetan and carried the sound of a thousand years. Some children held their hands
together in serious prayer and contemplation, some drifted off in day dreams, while others scrunched their 4 year old faces trying to remember the 10 minute prayer. These
are the 65 children that attend the “Home Away from Home” boarding school set up 4 years ago by our friend Tsedam Sherpa and his daughter Kami Sherpa.

During the earthquake the building that housed the children was damaged and became too dangerous to continue inhabitance. Tsedam had rented the building with his own money and the land lord did not have the means for repair after the earthquake. Although most of the
children pay tuition, Tsedam and Kami run the school as a non profit, with much of the funding from Tsedam's pocket and foreigners who sponsor a child.

The school created because children were walking from as far as 2 hours (one way) to go to school 6 days a week, often meaning irregular attendance. Can you imagine a child walking to school every day 4 hours round trip in American society today?

This morning the children were gathered around their cups of tea in prayer in Tsedam's tea house. They had no where to stay and Tsedam offered the rooms in his hotel to
house the children. After seeing the situation we knew very quickly that some of the money you had donated should go to the school. We originally had thought supplies but after speaking with Tsedam and Kami we came up with a better idea.

Tsedam was going to use some of the land next to his tea house to build a boarding house that would house 65 to 70 children. He had borrowed $30,000 from the bank, was using his own money to build the school, in addition to offering up his own land. We decided that $2000 dollars would go to Home Away From Home with another $1000 to be donated April of 2016.

As I said in an earlier report, this school on a micro level is run as well as schools with budgets of millions of dollars. The curriculum is made up of foreign language studies,
folk music studies, dance, math, sciences, and social studies. The amazing Sherpa values are instilled in children at a young age and upheld in the school. There was no fighting over toys, no crying, no entitlement, no such thing as bullying. Each child helped one another, shared, respected each other, and were joyous happy little beings.  Discipline is taught at a young age and it was amazing to see 65 children behave and have an exceptional grasp of respect and responsibility. We felt good putting a percentage of your donations toward
this entity and these children.

As the 10 minute prayer came to an end I expected ruckus and mayhem. The abrupt end to the prayer cast a silence and imbued place with a sense of peace. Each child
calmly picked up their cup of tea and sat quietly sipping and day dreaming.

Thats where we were at on July 12th











Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Imagine 65 children between the ages of 4 and 9 chanting a prayer before drinking a cup of tea. This is what we woke to in the early morning light at Nacmche Bazaar on July12th. Mugs of hot black tea breathed steam in front of each child. The prayer was Tibetan and carried the sound of a thousand years. Some children held their hands
together in serious prayer and contemplation, some drifted off in day dreams, while others scrunched their 4 year old faces trying to remember the 10 minute prayer. These
are the 65 children that attend the “Home Away from Home” boarding school set up 4 years ago by our friend Tsedam Sherpa and his daughter Kami Sherpa.

During the earthquake the building that housed the children was damaged and became too dangerous to continue inhabitance. Tsedam had rented the building with his own money and the land lord did not have the means for repair after the earthquake. Although most of the
children pay tuition, Tsedam and Kami run the school as a non profit, with much of the funding from Tsedam's pocket and foreigners who sponsor a child.

The school created because children were walking from as far as 2 hours (one way) to go to school 6 days a week, often meaning irregular attendance. Can you imagine a child walking to school every day 4 hours round trip in American society today?

This morning the children were gathered around their cups of tea in prayer in Tsedam's tea house. They had no where to stay and Tsedam offered the rooms in his hotel to
house the children. After seeing the situation we knew very quickly that some of the money you had donated should go to the school. We originally had thought supplies but after speaking with Tsedam and Kami we came up with a better idea.

Tsedam was going to use some of the land next to his tea house to build a boarding house that would house 65 to 70 children. He had borrowed $30,000 from the bank, was using his own money to build the school, in addition to offering up his own land. We decided that $2000 dollars would go to Home Away From Home with another $1000 to be donated April of 2016.

As I said in an earlier report, this school on a micro level is run as well as schools with budgets of millions of dollars. The curriculum is made up of foreign language studies,
folk music studies, dance, math, sciences, and social studies. The amazing Sherpa values are instilled in children at a young age and upheld in the school. There was no fighting over toys, no crying, no entitlement, no such thing as bullying. Each child helped one another, shared, respected each other, and were joyous happy little beings.  Discipline is taught at a young age and it was amazing to see 65 children behave and have an exceptional grasp of respect and responsibility. We felt good putting a percentage of your donations toward
this entity and these children.

As the 10 minute prayer came to an end I expected ruckus and mayhem. The abrupt end to the prayer cast a silence and imbued place with a sense of peace. Each child
calmly picked up their cup of tea and sat quietly sipping and day dreaming.

Thats where we were at on July 12th











    

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Four Winds Nepal Relief Part 4

Four Winds Nepal Relief Part 4


Namche Bazaar sits at 11,286 feet.  Hiking to it is not the easiest day one spends in the mountains.  The trail gains 2600 feet from the valley floor.  It can be the most difficult day on a 14 day adventure walking amongst the giant Himalaya.  Going from 8500 feet to the elevation of Namche the blood loses 6 to 10% of its oxygen carrying capabilities as the air begins to thin.

Grueling yes!  Worth it yes!  Now as we begin to hike into the high country we are treated with a world of waterfalls.  Because it is the rainy season we are seeing waterfalls that do not run during the regular trekking season.  White ribbons of water dot vertical gorges every few hundred yards, the water tumbling to the valley floor on an extreme whitewater journey to the ocean.  Seeing these in the off season absent of hundreds of other foreigners is quite a treat, however I have other things on my mind.  

As we move higher and higher I am thinking about logistics for the following day.  We had originally thought that bringing rice to the village of Khumjung was the best course of action.  Plans were about to change again.  After speaking with my close friends Urkin Sherpa and Tsedam Sherpa they advised otherwise.  They both felt that everyone had enough food and that giving them money would provide a better footing in their tenuous situation.  At the end of the conversation I had mixed feeling about this as I felt a huge responsibility to all of you who donated to this project to make sure that the donations were allocated in the best possible way.  

On the trail my wife and I are experiencing the locals sans tourists.  We have seen only 2 other foreigners.  We notice the spark that usually accompanies a jovial “Namaste” is subdued, there is a preoccupation in their voice.  The usual spring in their step is dulled.  The earth quake is weighing heavy on the population.  We see, hear, and feel pain in their spirits as we pass them on the trail.  Because it is the rainy season and there are no tourist the available work is scarce adding to the hardship.  

We take slow steps higher into thinning air.  My thoughts are simple “Rice or Money?”  “What is the best way to help?”

We pass a porter taking a break from carrying his load of 6 sheets of ply wood.  He carries it on his back up the 2600 feet of gain.  He has a control line tied to the top to keep his load from blowing him over if a wind rises.  Imagine carrying 6 (4’x 6’) sheets of ply wood on your next day hike, roughly about 140 pounds.    We see many porters carrying rebuilding supplies with loads up to 180 pounds. This day that I thought so difficult is Disney Land compared to what these porters are is doing.  I hope that we can help their situation.  I meet with Tsedam today in Namche and will talk to Urkin who is in Khumjung to work out logistics and the best way to help.

Thats where we were at on July 11th.

Monday, July 20, 2015

navigating leaches Part 3




We are in the thick of Nepal’s monsoon season.  It really hit home when I was petting one of my favorite dogs in the village of Ghat.  I scratched his head, rubbed his back, and pulled on his ears.  He reacted with a shake of his thick black Tibetan mastiff mane.  A shake that shuddered through from his head to his back paws, throwing a spray of dust and something big and black that whizzed past my head in a gentle arc. 


I saw the object in flight out of the corner of my eye.  At first I thought a bird had dropped a good luck present from the sky. In Nepal it is a common belief that if you get hit by bird droppings it’s good luck.  I took a curious look toward the black blob only to realize that a leach had gorged itself to the size of a 3 inch slug, and as the dog shook, the leach heavy with blood, was to weighty to hang on. Welcome to the monsoon.

We flew in to the Mt Everest trail head and had started our walk toward Namche Bazaar.  Since it was going to take 4 days for the resilient structures to arrive in the porter’s village of Bung, 3 days by trail below us, we wanted to use the time to head North by foot. Our goal was to allocate a small percentage of the donations to a hard hit village called Khumjung and to Home Away from Home boarding school.  I had been coordinating with Urkin Sherpa who was creating a list of the people who needed aid the most. After completion of our round of aid in the area we would hop on a chartered helicopter to fly us to Bung because it would be impossible to cover the distance from Namche to Bung with the amount of time we had.  

I had never been to Nepal during the monsoon.  So far we have seen a total of three tourists.  I can understand why tourists do not come during this season.  I myself have heard a legion of leach stories and sheets of rain that continue for weeks and weeks.  The legendary horror stories of people waking up with a leach wiggling off their forehead like a small antenna, or the story of the guy waking up with a leach attached to his private part (true story told by my wife) screaming “oh my god, oh my god,”  play on my psyche.  We walk all day in the clouds.  

We are happy to be heading north toward Tibet and into the high country.  Here leaches do not dwell.  There is light rain and the gentle giant Himalaya dwell hidden above the cloud.  It is as if the great mountains have taken a vacation from putting on their show for the thousands of tourists who walk these trails in the spring and autumn season.  Maybe after some rejuevination they will lift their vail to share their grandeur and reopen their show.    


 Thats where we were at on July 10th.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Four Winds Nepal Relief Part 2

We started our relief effort with a meeting in Kathmandu.  My head porter, head Sherpa, and 2 representatives from “Resilient Homes” met my wife and I in our hotel lobby at the popular Tibet Guest House.  

Jacob, the gentlemen who helped create “Resilient Homes” is from Holland, speaks Dutch, Nepali, and English.  Timothy is from Nepal and is Sherpa who converted to Christianity, spoke Nepali, Sherpa, and English, and was a rep for Resilient Homes.   My head Sherpa Gombu who speaks English, Nepali, and Sherpa was in attendance to translate and help with logistics and would be receiving aid.  Finally Asmit and Prakash who are of the Rai tribe, who spoke Nepali and Rai and were there to represent my team of porters, help with logistics, and actually carry the structures  (over 850 pounds) we were gathering to discuss, to their village 2 days from the roads end.  A group representing 4 different religions, 4 different languages, and 3 different countries, all gathered to give, help, and receive.

When I had planned the relief effort I had a vivid, beautiful picture of how the relief would be distributed, complete with a common sense progression, ending with happy smiling villagers, thankful for the help from compassionate Americans.  I was set on 10 structures which would provide shelter for 10 families, purchasing almost 2 tons of rice for the village of Khumjung, and supplying a years worth of school supplies to the “Home Away from Home” boarding school.  Seemed simple enough.  One of the beautiful aspects of life is its unpredictability.  Although I knew at the end of this project I would have photos of happy villagers full of gratitude I did not expect things to change with the first question posed by Jacob.

“Are you getting the most bang for your buck with the structures?”
Although I understood the American slang in the soft Dutch accent I was immediately confused.  I had just flown 24 hours to the other side of the earth to purchase the said structures that I had ordered 6 weeks ago.  I sat with $15000 in my pocket to pay for the structures.  I replied to Jacob “I don’t understand?????”  Gombu was translating to the porters and the porters scooted to the front of their chairs in anticipation of Jacob’s explanation.  I to scooted closer as if the answer to the great mystery was going to be divulged.

He then went on to explain the cost of the structures versus the cost of the actual damage and a huge discussion ensued.   We went back and forth with the porters and Gombu, Timothy and I, Jacob and Timothy, the porters and I, Dee and Jacob, exhausting every aspect of cost of structure, transport of structures, and damage of homes.  Basically Jacob was wondering if some of the homes would be cheaper to repair than to buy a structure to replace the home.  The depth of the damage I always assumed was total, homes flattened to the ground, villagers digging through rubble to find remains of the past.  

  Now we were a group of buzzing confused but focused bees.

As the discussion continued it became clear that yes, homes were damaged but some of them may be cheaper to repair versus buying the resilient structure.  My beautiful plan complete with a common sense progression was in shreds.  We hammered out different solutions for over 3 hours.  Magnifying and adding pressure to the situation was the tight flight schedule.  We had landed on the evening of the 8th, planned the meeting on the 9th, and would be flying to Lukla on the morning of the 10th.  It was now 3pm on the 9th and we had no clear plan.  

We finally narrowed in on one question for the porters and Gombu, “What would be best for you, a structure or the money to repair your current home?”  Throughout the meeting Asmit was calling the other porters in their remote village trying to figure out cost of damage and if they wanted a structure.  He was back and forth throughout the meeting with the porters. The answers were surprising.  Only 2 of the porters and Gombu felt that the structure would be best while 5 of the porters felt they could repair their current home with the money that would have gone toward a structure.  

We finally ended up purchasing 4 structures and agreed to meet all the porters in their village of Bung to see the situation and allocate funds.

That’s where we were at on July 9th...  






Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Four Winds Nepal Relief 1

I have been feeling a bit trepidatious about journeying back into the earthquake zone of Nepal.  I can remember the first moments of the early tremors and the split second decision to have everyone evacuate the dining room.  We were having a relaxed afternoon, playing cards, snacking on cheese and Salami we had carried from the states. Gentle laughter and jovial conversation drifted from the different trekking teams and tea house staff.  The first indication that something ominous was about to happen was a gentle vibration that gave pause for a few seconds and then began again.  At the pause I remember hearing several nervous laughs.  It was as if some silent invisible hand was playing a joke, we were responding with a nervous laugh not really knowing what we were responding to.  As the next vibration began I yelled “outside.”  First there was pause and curiousness on the face of my trekking team but as the vibrations turned to violent movement we all were on the move.  Our world was changing rapidly.

As we moved to the door, 20 feet away, the tremors turned into mass earth convulsions, the ground shaking violently accompanied by the feeling of ocean waves or sloshing of great expanses of earth.  Violence so fierce that I remember thinking this is it, the earth is going to split in half.  It surely felt as the end of the place we call earth.  Along with the movement was a deep wild audible that vibrated through ear drum and every bone.  

Within 10 seconds every building around us began to crumble, corners sloughing, rooflines plunging, a concrete wall easily powdered.  If we were 6 or 10 seconds later some of us would have been crushed.  The wall we were sitting next to had collapsed. 
My head Sherpa who usually naps at this time of day had chose to join us for cards.  If he had chosen to nap on this day he would be dead as his room was reduced to a pile of granite rubble. 

I and 5 clients huddled out side holding each other tight as the quake continued on.  Locals soon joined our huddle, shrieks, tears, and panic.  As a guide I tried to keep everyone huddled and calm but inside I realized any control we had was gone in the early tremors.  

Machermo sits below the East Face of a peak called Kanjo Ri.  I could hear huge avalanches ripping down the face and emptying into the valley.  The mountain is a good 2 miles up valley, at the time I thought no way could those avalanches reach the village.  How wrong I was.  Huge avalanches in the Lang Tang region and at Everest Base Camp had buried over three hundred people.  Lang Tang and Base Camp were situated very similar to Machermo with snowy faces of mountains miles away.  The avalanches easily covering the distances in seconds.  I shudder thinking back to those loud slides coming off of Kyajo Ri and how very possible it was that we could have been buried.

The relief effort was born out of need.  I and my trekking team had created this idea to help a group of porters, their village, and a school called “Home away from Home” in the village of Namche.  We created a website while in the mountains with the help of Paul Roy and Michael Petralia and the rest of the team pitching in ideas.  

Now as I head back on an aid and relief project thinking back to these moments forces caution.  The earthquake is still very real in my bones and the audible very loud to memory.

I am happy my wife chose to come along to assist. She has a love for these mountain people as her early travels had brought her through the area.

We checked in to Emirate Airlines on July 6th, I still with feelings of trepidation.  We asked at the counter if there could be any discount for the seven 100 liter expedition duffles were carrying explaining they were aid relief for Nepal.  RAB the climbing equipment company had donated 100 water proof jackets and we added a duffle bag worth of plastic tarps.  The woman at the counter explained that it was very difficult to give discounts at the counter.  She then whispered something in the ear of the  gentleman who was checking us in.  We moved on to the gate.

We went through the usual check in process, stood in line to board, passports checked and boarding pass checked.  As we neared the final check point the woman who could not grant us a discount on the overweight baggage was standing next to the person gathering boarding passes. We approached and she gathered our boarding passes and took them to a desk as we waited at the front of the line, not fully understanding what was going on.  She returned quickly with 2 new boarding passes and non chalantly said she had moved us to a better seat.  We thanked her and began to move down the ramp to the door of the plane.  As I glanced at the new boarding pass my breath was taken.  The woman had upgraded us to business class.  Both my wife and I ran back up the ramp and thanked the woman profusely.

Now as I sit it the Dubai airport I still have some trepidation. We are going back into the earthquake zone, back to unstable ground being pelted with monsoon rains.  However thinking back through the kindness that has brought me here is magnified and helps pale the trepidation.  

Thank You to all who have donated we have raised $27,200 with donations still flowing. Thank You to the YOBE community (my wife,s yoga studio) who had donated roughly $1300.  There are countless individuals who have donated of all ages.  A 5 year old girl had donated her birthday money given to her by her grandmother.  An amazing couple that had trekked with me a few years back and were slated for a Tibet trip that was canceled donated $5000 of their trip money.  People who had very little money would come into the store and donate $5, a huge amount when you have little.

As I head into the arena of providing help these acts of kindness carry me.  Also the comfiness, full horizontal seat capabilities, with down comforters on Emirate air was icing on the cake.

Thank You for your donations and all you have done.  Stay tuned for updates.  



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