The Nepali people have been instrumental to the success of innumerable expeditions over the last 100+ years by foreigners traveling to the Himalaya. For those that don't know it, the Khumbu Climbing Center and it's Khumbu Climbing School is an effort by the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation to give back to those critically important and often overlooked individuals. The center works to promote a culture of education especially suited to the unique needs of the people it serves. The KCC/KCS meets it's goal of providing relevant education by sourcing highly experienced climbers, medical professionals, and builders from around the world to serve on a rotational basis. While in country, the team focuses on teaching technical climbing skills, wilderness first aid, and language training. All of that results in a higher degree of self sufficiency for locals who benefit from a greater degree of technical compatibility with travelers who have become a vital source of income for the regional economy. Since it's inception in 2007 the school has undergone a positive transition, the majority of education is now conducted by increasingly experienced Nepali men and women while the visiting foreign teams primarily function as advisors.
One recent May morning found me sitting at the computer shortly after sunrise, coffee in hand, working through emails when I got an unexpected happy belated birthday email from my friend Joe Wagner who happened to be in Nepal at the time. He was volunteering at the Khumbu Climbing Center for the second time in a year - an admirable adventure.
I was surprised and excited at the same time when Joe wrote to me, "I'm thinking of leaving the bag here at the Khumbu Climbing School." We had been joking (I thought) before his departure from Bozeman in April about how he should take a BOD chalk bag him; because most people visiting this part of the world are there to climb snow or ice - not dedicated rock climbs. Someone apparently suggested that the group go rock climbing for a day, it turns out the school didn't have any chalk bags in it's gear cache. Joe, in his typical cleverness was the only person around out of many skilled climbers who had packed a chalk bag for the trip to Nepal.
The group went climbing as planned and the bag got passed around and used by multiple people. Thanks to Joe, Bridger Outdoor Designs has plans to help fill the void by donating more chalk bags to the KCC prior to it's upcoming fall season. Joe is back in Montana now and The Purple People Eater has been left in Nepal, right where it belongs.