Wanaka's Adventure Consultants vows to return to earthquake-stricken Nepal

Adventure Consultants directors Guy Cotter, left, and Suze Kelly on the summit of Aoraki-Mt Cook.
Adventure Consultants

Adventure Consultants directors Guy Cotter, left, and Suze Kelly on the summit of Aoraki-Mt Cook.

A Wanaka guiding company has vowed to return to Nepal in September and is encouraging adventurers not to turn away from the earthquake-stricken nation and its people.

Of the 21 Sherpa staff employed by Adventure Consultants, just one emerged unscathed.

Six died, nine injured staff were flown by helicopter to Kathmandu for hospital treatment and another six received non-critical injuries.

Almost all are rushing to rebuild their homes before the monsoon.

But the Sherpas have said they are keen to go back to work so the company is going ahead with ascents of Cho Oyu (8000 metres above sea level) and Ama Dablam (6000m) planned later this year.

"Even though they are positive about going back to work, most Nepalese people we spoke to feel quite demoralised and there's a sense of 'What have we done to deserve this?' That's because they believe in karma. They are still there, dealing with shaky ground. People in Christchurch will have had similar experiences," director Suze Kelly said.

The company raised $12,162 at a charity event at Cinema Paradiso on Thursday. 

It included a screening of the 2013 docudrama of Sir Edmund Hillary's 1953 ascent of Mt Everest, Beyond The Edge. 

More fundraising events are planned, with proceeds to go to several charities, including Adventure Consultant's Sherpa Future Fund, the Helambu Relief Appeal, which is being promoted by Wanaka residents Mal Haskins and Sophie Ward, the Juniper Fund and the dZi Foundation.

Adventure Consultants base camp manager Anthea Fisher was at Base Camp during the magnitude-7.8 earthquake on April 25, while directors Guy Cotter and Suze Kelly were 6000 metres above sea level at Camp One with the climbing team.

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Some Sherpas were at Camp Two but no climbers were at Camp Three.

Those higher up survived relatively unscathed from the terrifying shakes and resulting avalanches, which threatened the higher camps. Cotter described it as "like being on a bucking bronco in the middle of a glacier".

It was the one place he had never wanted to be in an earthquake and he felt lucky he had "got away with it".

Then he spoke by radio to an emotional Fisher, who told him of the devastation at Base Camp.

Fisher told the Cinema Paradiso function she was terrified and had limited options in the face of the avalanche.

She could hear ice cliffs coming down and, realising she was going to be hit, took shelter in the largest of Adventure Consultant's tents, crawling out later "into a war zone".

"It hit with so much force it threw a half metre diameter boulder through the camp. Gas bottles and people were thrown through the camp and some of our gear was found one and half kilometres away," Fisher said.

She recalled feeling "pretty helpless" as she and other survivors dealt with the aftermath. Adventure Consultants medical and communications tents had been blown away.

The Sherpas displayed resilience in the face of all that had happened, she said.

Cotter likened the scattered debris to that of an aircraft crash. He and Kelly cleaned up at Base Camp for more than a week "because we didn't want to walk away and leave a mess".

 - The Mirror


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