(Tina Sjogren) Staying with locals all over the world brings extreme places and their people closer to independent explorers and mountaineers.
After the big tremor Adrian Hayes grabbed his satellite communications, food and medicals, walked down from a Makalu high camp and out into the remote villages ruined by Nepal's earthquakes. Among other "climbing boots on the ground" were Don Bowie's climbing team as well as Johan Ernst Nilson, making sure funds reached the people in Namche Bazaar.
An experienced climber and traveler, Adrian Hayes walked all the way to Tibet, documenting any damage he saw on the way. We checked in with the Nepalese speaking, former Gurkha officer this weekend to see how his quest is doing. He reports a huge landslide at Jhyaka, that killed far more than the Langtang landslide but has had much less media. Here goes Adrian.
Explorersweb: Hi Adrian, how did your quake efforts go?
Adrian Hayes: One guy with two porters is never going to save the world, let alone Nepal, but, in total honesty, my own small efforts seem to have achieved what I set out to do and have been hugely rewarding.
Explorersweb: How was the trek? Where did you go?
Adrian Hayes: I spent the first week in the Makalu region, which wasn’t hugely damaged by the first quake but, ironically, was in the second. Since the 12 May second quake I have been up in the Sindupalchok and Dolakha regions, sandwiched between Langtang and Solo Khumbu and have trekked a lot of kilometres, heading into Tibet at one stage in addition. And, as I mention above, it has been infinitely rewarding.
Explorersweb: How bad is it?
Adrian Hayes: Both regions were heavily destroyed by the second earthquake – not the same loss of life as in the first quake because the second was ‘only’ 7.4 magnitude on the Richter scale, but that is severe enough to do untold damage and cause a large loss of life. One huge landslide at Jhyaka, near Singati Bazaar, has probably killed 2-300 people – far more than the Langtang landslide but has not had anywhere near the same reporting.
Explorersweb: Did you manage to help, and how, if yes?
Adrian Hayes: I wrote on my previous blog that it was critical for me – and other climbers who stayed on to help - to define exactly what I was trying to achieve and what specific help I could give. For me, the work defined into, firstly, reporting – on social media, to international media and to the NGO’s I have been working with.
Secondly, medical help – I trained and qualified as a Paramedic with the Special Forces and have always read, studied and kept up to date on all medical matters. Thirdly was allowing villagers to use my Thuraya Sat phone system to get in touch with families in Nepal or overseas. And fourthly, the longer lasting fundraising.
In practice, aside from the reporting the medical help was where I have been called on most - there has been so much to do and I could have stayed for months.
Explorersweb: How much aid has reached the region? (Johan told us from Namche last week they had only got Red Cross tents thus far)
Adrian Hayes: Disparate – main villages on main trails seem to have a lot of support, at least in theory, with Army or Police teams and sometimes a Government health worker.
In practice, however, the Army and Police are purely there to secure aid drops of food and nothing else and the health worker is often inexperienced. And off the main trails in remote villages there is little visible help aside from tarpaulin, although all serious medical cases from the earthquakes seem to have been evacuated.
Explorersweb: Have you been in touch with Don Bowie's team? (They went out too)
Adrian Hayes: Not directly, but have kept up to date on EW where Don was – which was one reason I went to Sindupalchok and Dolakha as he and his team were in Gorkha.
Explorersweb: Have you seen any other climbers out there?
Adrian Hayes: None, but I have been well away from the main climbing trails.
Explorersweb: How was the second big quake for you?
Adrian Hayes: Bigger than the first in both the experience and a defining task for me.
Explorersweb: One major/single thing the locals ask for?
Adrian Hayes: Well they are generally too polite to ask but they know and we know that it all comes down to money in the end… Shelter, food and medicine will all help the short term relief efforts, but re-building houses needs cash.
Explorersweb: What needs to be done now?
Adrian Hayes: There is simply too big an area and too much to do for the big aid organizations to cope with and the efforts of a huge number of individuals or groups can all greatly help the country, whether it is shelter, food, medical teams, water purification or whatever.
The re-build I mention above is another matter altogether but critical in the medium to longer term.
Ed note: Correction May 25 to reflect Adrian was on Makalu during the EQ, not Annapurna as previously stated.
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