My Earthquake Experience in Kathmandu

Sitting talking about Earthquakes and how one was over due in the region was some of what I was talking about with my friend and colleague Dawa Chhiri Sherpa last Saturday 25th April at 10am. We were planning out our week in Kathmandu before we were due to fly back to Lukla and go back on the Everest base camp trek today Sunday 3rd May. I had just come down from Island peak at 20,305ft and ready for a break before heading back into the mountains. I was tired for a long three weeks in the mountains. CLICK HERE to read article from the Irish Times.

That morning 25th April 2015, I couldn’t get out of bed. We had been up at 6am / 7am each morning for the past 3 weeks and 9am came and I was struggling to get up. I noticed Dawa out filling water to water his plants so I went outside, he had been up since 5am as he dropped our head climbing Sherpa, Ang Kami to the bus station.  Ang Kami was heading back to the village Goli where his wife and 3 year old baby lived. Ang Kami was going for a week before he would head back to the Everest trail with us. All our staff come from the same village in the lower Khumbu region below Everest. CLICK HERE and see pictures from our Facebook page. Like the page and keep track of what we are doing.

Dawa had made me coffee and two boiled eggs, offered me a shower and I said I was fine. I slowly took my time getting ready and we decided to head to the monkey temple to have another look around and relax with another coffee to wake me up. We jumped on the motor bike down the alley and off to Swayambhunath temple. It was just after 10am we walked up the steps and started walking around looking at different temple, pictures and commented on how busy it was. There was a large number of small fires on the go and I remember an Indian ladies dress on fire and Dawa quickly going over to help and putting out the fire. We enjoyed our coffee and talked about a range of things including earthquakes and how Kathmandu was a risk and landslides on the trails in the Everest region are a risk we always need to be aware of even with out earthquakes.

After our coffee we headed back to Thamel. Dawa dropped me off at the Hotel where everyone was staying and started to gather the troops for a trip to the royal palace and Durbar square. We were delayed leaving as we were waiting on Paul to come down to the lobby. Thank god he was late. If we had of left two minutes earlier we would have definitely been under a couple of buildings which come down around the corner from the hotel and the direction we would have been travelling in.

Sitting in the lobby of the hotel everything slowly started to move and then all of a sudden we were being thrown around. We managed to slowly make our way to open ground and struggled to even stand at times. There was a moment when I felt the hotel and all the building would come down but they didn’t.  After the initial shock and rock of the earthquake and trying to understanding and realize what has just happened,  our concern turned to the rest of our team in the mountains and friend out in different parts of Kathmandu.  We wanted to help and we ran to see if we could help and realized we were in more risk as there were after shocks some big. We moved back to the hotel and open ground as we were in no position to help at that point.

Our focus turned to our friends. Ronan and Magda were out on the street shopping and sightseeing and hoping they were not in harms way. I was also thinking about our staff and Sherpa friends who were shattered around Kathmandu and further a field. There was surprisingly little damage to our hotel but when I eventually ventured out in search of Dawa and his son Sonam I could see a lot more damage and fallen building and worried for my safety as I walked over building which had come down.  Just getting out of our area was challenging, no roads were accessible.  The street where their home and our office was blocked. The entrance to their place was covered with no way in. As I neared the entrance to where Dawa’s home was, there was a man wailing, his whole family were in the house that came down blocking the entrance to Dawa’s home. We saw our Sherpa friend Phurba and Dawa’s cousin Tendi. Phurba said 18 people where in the building.

No sign of Dawa or Sonam and after walking around the area for 45 minutes we decided to make our way back to the hotel and make sure Ronan and Magda arrived back at the hotel safely. We waited on open ground at the hotel. I got a call from Ronan saying they were safe and four hours after the initial earthquake they arrived back in the hotel. One hour later Dawa showed up to all our relief.

That night we had wifi and I spoke to my wife, a couple of newspapers and explained what I had seen and what was happening on the ground in Kathmandu. It was unclear what the response would be and how quickly it would come. The first 4 days after the earthquake were bad, no water, food, electricity, information or any word as every three hours we would be rocked by tremors. Trying to get everyone out of the country was very challenging and trying to get information from our Mera peak team was difficult. By Wednesday 29th April things were starting to move again, although we still had no water, or electricity we needed to help. All our clients were back in Kathmandu and preparing to go home. Dawa and I decided to go out and help people. So for three days be would do that. We saw some horrific scenes and people in need. Bodies still on the street near Thamel the tourist district four days after the earthquake. People in large camps desperate for water, food and basic necessities.

Once we had given all our time, resources and money we starting thinking about me going home and how we could find out how Ang Kami was and if Dawa’s village, Goli had withstood the earthquake . Word came through that the village of Goli below Pikey peak in the Everest region was in ruin and we now have to think of a way to help these people in this village close the Everest region which has been so good to us. We had been helping them sending up stoves over the last couple of years but now it was time to make things happen.

I left Kathmandu at 9pm Friday the 1st May. Dawa left Kathmandu Saturday morning on a long 10 hour bus ride with food, tents, water, supplies, not knowing what he would find in the village. We have yet to hear about how the people are but I am waiting for video and pictures of the damage. We will now raise money for Dawa’s village, hopefully bringing a little hope to the people in his village. Where so many good people have come from. CLICK HERE and find our more about the Goli village support trek along with hiking up Pikey Peak. My earthquake experience in Kathmandu left me with the clear understanding that people need help and I had a responsibility to raise awareness and help in a remote part of Nepal. PLEASE DONATE TO GOLI VILLAGE.