The tragic death of 16 Sherpas in the April 18 icefall avalanche on Mount Everest has deeply affected the alpine climbing community. As families, friends and colleagues struggle with the sadness, many are also seeking and establishing ways to support the families left behind.
One such organization is The American Alpine Club (AAC), a longtime MSR partner whose mission is to “support our shared passion for climbing and respect for the places we climb.”
In the wake of the event, the AAC quickly responded by establishing The Sherpa Support Fund. The purpose of the fund is to lend aid and support to the families of the fallen climbers and the communities affected by this tragedy. We spoke with AAC Executive Director Phil Powers to bring you more information about the fund. You can join us in making a donation on the AAC’s website.
Why did the AAC respond with The Sherpa Support Fund?
As climbers, we care about the people who support us in the mountains we visit around the world. At the AAC, we felt we had the infrastructure and ability to mobilize quickly and help. We can make sure all the money goes where it should and we have the connections to make sure the organizations involved are coordinated.
What has been the donation response?
There has been an inspiring response and we have raised over $60,000. We plan to close the fundraising on May 30 so that we can turn our attention to making sure the money is spent well. I think we will easily surpass $75,000 by that date. It is an amount that can do a lot of good.
How will the funds be distributed?
The AAC has no real infrastructure on the ground in Nepal so we will be working with other organizations to make sure our funds are deployed well and in coordination with the efforts of several other non-profits who are trying to help.
We understand that the AAC is putting together a committee to help decide how to distribute the funds fairly and wisely. What kind of leaders are you seeking for that role?
I want a small group of people who care about the area and have a good ability to help us evaluate the right partners.
How can people get involved?
Certainly people can donate. There are several organizations doing good work here and I have a high regard for the American Himalayan Foundation, The Juniper Fund and the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation. And we can all look to our own personal practice and how we treat others. Personally, I am trying to do something for the people in Pakistan who I depended on during my climbing days there.
What are the next steps after the fund closes on May 30th?
My main goal is to make sure we convene the right people for conversations about long-term solutions. We are hosting a conference here, Sustainable Summits, in July on this very topic.
Please consider joining us with a donation to The Sherpa Support Fund. http://americanalpineclub.org/p/sherpa-support-fund
The AAC’s July Sustainable Summit of land managers, climbers, planners and scientists representing the world’s mountainous regions is open to all interested individuals around the world. For more information, visit: http://www.americanalpineclub.org/p/sustainable_summits