Eric Meyer, Dan Bell, Mark Cox, Chhiring Dorje Sherpa: Trekking for earthquake victims | SteamboatToday.com

Eric Meyer, Dan Bell, Mark Cox, Chhiring Dorje Sherpa: Trekking for earthquake victims

Assisting the Nepalese






Courtesy Frederick Strang

After Nepal's worst earthquake in 80 years — one that also killed 16 Sherpas in the deadliest avalanche in Mt. Everest's history — four locals took it upon themselves to call attention to the area's devastation by trekking there themselves.

Led by local mountaineer Chhiring Dorje Sherpa, who has summited Everest 12 times and has created a foundation to help his hometown village of Na, the locals — including local anesthesiologist Eric Meyer, Storm Peak Mountain Ranch manager Dan Bell and Steamboat Springs Winter Driving School president Mark Cox — spent November trekking up the Rolwaling Valley to benefit the region's reconstruction.

"Chhiring was wondering how to best help out his village," says Meyer, adding that teammate and filmmaker Fredrik Sträng is making a documentary on the quake's recovery efforts. "We realized they needed more than just money; there's no workforce left to rebuild. All the young men have left to find work elsewhere. So the idea was to trek there to show the villagers how important it is to rebuild."

After an eight-hour drive from Kathmandu, the group of 12, including porters, spent two weeks hiking up the Rolwaling Valley, averaging up to 15 miles per day. It didn't take long for the effects of the earthquake to sink in. At the village of Simagaon they saw the remains of a centuries-old monastery, whose surviving artifacts had been moved into a makeshift stone building. "It had been there for hundreds of years," Meyer says. "It was the first real eye-opener of the valley's devastation."

Staying in teahouses, people's homes and camping among the wreckage, the group continued on, encouraging hope and helping with rebuilding efforts wherever they could. They also took a photo of a demolished lodge to send to fellow Steamboat locals Matt and Dana Tredway, who had stayed there just the year before.

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"With most of the men leaving to work in Kathmandu, India or the Emirates, it was mostly girls and women remaining in the villages," says Meyer. "And there's a need to educate them on the importance of rebuilding their areas. One goal of Chhiring’s foundation is to rebuild the monastery school. There are 16 kids there now, mostly orphans. We're adding a greenhouse, where the kids can grow vegetables for their own use and sell the surplus. Hopefully, this will encourage the villagers to do the same."

Miles from Steamboat: 7,724

14 days (trekking)

Dates: Nov. 1-22

Factoid: Nepal's April 25, 7.8 earthquake killed 8,617 people, injured 16,808 and displaced 2.8 million. It also destroyed more than 473,000 homes.

After trekking through Beding and Chhiring's home village of Na, where Meyer and Sträng took a side trip to ascend and ski 18,471-foot Yalung Ri, the group donned crampons and ropes and continued up and over 19,000-foot Tesi Lapcha Pass. From there, they descended into the Thame Valley and the village of Namche, capping a November to remember.

"One of the most impressive things was the sheer scale of the mountains," says Bell. "I was completely dumbstruck for three weeks straight."

The Wapta Traverse

Trekking Nepal was far from the only adventure Eric Meyer embarked on in 2015. Last spring he also attempted the 40-kilometer Wapta Ski Traverse in Alberta's Canadian Rockies, traversing an icefield from Peyto Lake to Sherbrooke Lake. Turned back by weather, this April, he's heading back to finish where he left off. "Last year was pretty brutal," says Meyer. "We got weathered out before we got too far along. Hopefully, this year will be better."

While Bell adds that the scenery was incredible, the remoteness of the Rolwaling Valley made it even more special. "It's way off the beaten path," he says. "Not many people trek there. It was good to show its villagers that people have an interest in it."

Overshadowing the area's isolation and vistas, however, was the far-reaching effects of the earthquake. "It was incredibly widespread," Bell says. "There wasn't one village that wasn't signifcantly impacted, whether from landslides or buildings collapsing.

"It just takes a long time to get there to help," he adds. "We saw 16-year-old girls carrying bags of concrete for three days to Beding, then turning around and heading back for another one."

—For more information on the Chhiring Foundation, visit http://www.rolwalingexcursion.com.np.

Miles from Steamboat: 7,724

14 days (trekking)

Dates: Nov. 1-22

Factoid: Nepal’s April 25, 7.8 earthquake killed 8,617 people, injured 16,808 and displaced 2.8 million. It also destroyed more than 473,000 homes.

The Wapta Traverse

Trekking Nepal was far from the only adventure Eric Meyer embarked on in 2015. Last spring he also attempted the 40-kilometer Wapta Ski Traverse in Alberta’s Canadian Rockies, traversing an icefield from Peyto Lake to Sherbrooke Lake. Turned back by weather, this April, he’s heading back to finish where he left off. “Last year was pretty brutal,” says Meyer. “We got weathered out before we got too far along. Hopefully, this year will be better.”