Not only for mountaineers and adventurers, the mountains of Nepal serve as a great place for nature and educational tours. In the high mountains, there’s much a young learner can learn – be it the unique culture, mountain ecology and bio-diversity or life’s lessons. The mountains, as one student remarked, “really opens up your eyes”.
This October, Explore Himalaya organized an Everest Trek for a rather large group of students and teachers from Wymondham College , Norfolk, UK.
The group included 21 students and four teachers. After the completion of their trek Explore Himalaya spoke to some members of the group and this is what they had to say:
Matilda Wace (Student, 15 Years):
“It (the trek) was really good. The views were really nice. The people were very friendly. It was good. “
Jordan Cadman – Rivers (Student , 16 Years) :
“The trip really opened my eyes. I think that the age we are on the trek is the perfect age to come because it’s definitely different to England and definitely changes your views on things. We are old enough to be independent and adapt ourselves on the trek. So I think it’s a good idea to come to Nepal especially at this age. I think Nepal was a good choice because this is a perfect place to trek. It is quite a friendly country, welcoming and the views are great. Coming here definitely opened up our eyes.”
Christopher Hoey (Teacher):
“I think Explore Himalaya has done an extraordinary good job. The staff from the company has been extremely friendly. Nothing has been too much trouble for them. In fact I have been really amazed at how much time members of staff have given over to the group. I expected a much low level of contact and support. You have always been there whoever it is amongst the group, who has needed your help and advice.
The partnership of Casterbridge(Tours) with Explore Himalaya has worked well and I think the success of any
trip depends upon the partnership. It’s about having well qualified staff from the UK but also a good company here to work with. The people whom we have not mentioned, Sirdar Kaji, the 5 guides and the 2 yak herders who did everything to ensure a safe trek in the mountains. I think you have got all safety factors of experienced guides and good company. There’s no reason why school groups from the UK can’t come and explore the mountains here.
Doing the Everest trail has been absolutely wonderful experience. I would like to come back to Nepal again. But I would like to see a different part of the Himalaya that is a bit more remote, that which doesn’t have quite so many trekkers. I am also very moved by the social and health needs of the country and I am thinking what I might be able to do about the development of the country.”
Simone Moro, a pilot and mountaineer, is new addition to Fishtail Air’s crew. We managed to ask Mr.Moro a couple of questions when he visited our office in Thamel on 28th October 2010.
Coming from Italy which lies close to the Mediterranean sea, he said his family members were into sailing as well as climbing. He chose the latter and he recollects that he did his first bit of serious climbing when he was 13. “It was just a small hill, a mound actually, but it felt good at that time!”. Since then Simeon has climbed many peaks in Asia, Europe and America. He has reached the summit of the world’s tallest mountain Mount Everest twice, the recent one in May this year, 2010. When asked about his experience, he said like a seasoned climber, “Nothing much happened. We climbed via the classic route. We went up stayed a bit at the Base Camp went up to the summit and climbed down. So nothing much happened”. The first peak he climbed in Nepal was Lhotse.
If mountaineering is his passion, flying is both his passion as well as profession. An experienced pilot, Simeon is the newest member of Fishtail Air’s distinguished flying crew. He has already been on a search & rescue mission with Fishtail Air’s pilot Captain Sabin Basnyat to Mt. Baruntse(7129m), to retrieve the body of 19 times Everest summiteer Chhewang Nima who lost his life in an avalanche at Baruntse on October 23rd, 2010. He said, “Unfortunately we could not find his body as there was too much snow”.
Talking about helicopter rescues in the mountains of Nepal, Simeon believes that, “Helicopter is the future of Nepal.” He adds,“ There are few places in Nepal like Kathmandu. Most of the country is covered by mountains. There are places which cannot be accessed by roads. Fishtail Air, I believe is the first company in Nepal to understand this and it has taken steps in the right direction. By partnering with Swiss and other European pilots who are experts in this field, they are taking helicopter operation in the Himalaya to a new level.”
He added, “For the development of the country, I think your government should introduce more helicopter flights in the remote areas. These could be used to carry essential commodities as well as passengers.”
On 28th October, Ncell , a private telecommunication company operating in Nepal successfully launched the highest 3G station(at 5200 m) in the world at Kala Patthar, Everest Base Camp. According to English daily ‘The Kathmandu Post’ there are seven 3G base stations in the region and the one established at the base camp is the highest 3G station in the world. Fishtail Air carried out corporate charters from Kathmandu to Shyangboche & Gorakh Shep on 25th & 28th October 2010.The helicopters ferried equipments and high ranking staffs of Ncell including its CEO, Pasi Koistinen .
On Thursday(28th October) Mr. Pasi Koistinen, Ncell’s CEO, launched the 3G service by making a video call from Shyangboche to Kala Patthar. His call was received by Explore Himalaya’s climbing guide Namgyal Sherpa, who was stationed at Kala Patthar, at a height 5,500 meters.
Now mountaineers, trekkers as well as locals in the Everest region will be able to make use of Ncell’s 3G services.3G service allows subscribers to make video calls and surf high speed internet and also provide other services such as voice calls, SMS, CRBT and MMS.
Mr. Salah Salim Ahmed Al Habsi was handed over Nepal Mountaineering Association’s certificate of achievement for being the first climber from UAE to summit Mera Peak by Mr. Suman Pandey at Explore Himalaya’s office this afternoon.
A shield commemorating the climber’s achievement was also handed over to the climber from Explore Himalaya’s side by Everest Summitteer and pilot Simeon Moro from Italy.
On 17th October 2010, Salah Salim Ahmed Al Habsi became the first climber from UAE (United Arab Emirates) to summit Mera Peak (6654m). The highest of Nepal’s trekking peaks, Mera Peak lies to the south of Everest, dominating the watershed between the wild and beautiful valleys of the Hinku and Hongu.
After his return to Kathmandu, we got to meet Mr. Al Habsi. It was a delight to meet this friendly and courteous climber, who is also a Lieutenant Colonel and Lecturer at Police College, Abu Dhabi Police G.H.Q. He seemed elated to have accomplished his mission and was grateful to the team from Explore Himalaya for their support in organizing his expedition. He said, “I am grateful to Explore Himalaya and the team of sherpas who made it easy for me to reach the top. They did a lot of hard work.”
Coming from a country devoid of high mountains (according to Wikipediathe highest point in UAE is a 1910m unnamed knoll), I couldn’t help asking how he got interested in mountaineering. Speaking about his passion for climbing, he said he got hooked onto climbing while he was studying in USA. According to him he has done a lot of climbing in America and Europe. In Nepal he has already summitted Island peak and Mera Peak. When asked what’s next on his agenda, he replied “Everest in March 2011!”
I have heard it often times and I heard it from from Al Habsi too. Like many others who had visited nepal, Mr. Al Habsi’s views did not differ: “Nepal is a beautiful country and it’s a great place to visit. The people are nice and the place is worth visiting, but the country needs to develop it’s infrastructure. I think to attract high end tourists the infrastructure needs to be developed.”
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the people concerned will take note of Mr. Al Habsi’s suggestion!
To know more about his views on climbing and others, check the video clip.