We cannot thank you all enough for so generously donating to the Sherpa Family Support Fund. Somehow or other, in just three weeks, we have together raised an incredible £20,000!! Colin and I hoped we would get to £10,000, but it never ever occurred to me we would get double that. I am overwhelmed at your generosity and have been close to tears at times when I saw how much money was coming in and at the thought of how much good we can do with it. My motto has always been “the danger is not in aiming too high, but in aiming too low and achieving it” because I know we are always capable of achieving much more than we think we are and I have not been proved wrong. You are all incredible, thank you!

The Bothy, Braemar. Our Auction venue.The evening of the Avalanche Auction was a huge success. On that evening alone we raised £9,500 thanks to the generosity of those who donated some amazing Lots, and of course to the generosity of those who bid for them. Not surprisingly a day out in the hills with Mountain Guide Kenton Cool was very popular with the ladies present, who wisely decided that rather than bidding against each other, a collective bid was more likely to win against any male opposition, and win they did - so watch out Kenton, you don’t know what you’ve let yourself in for! [photo: The Bothy, Braemar. Our Avalanche Auction Venue.]



So what happens next? Well obviously we want to start putting the money to good use as soon as possible, by helping to rebuild Pasang Temba’s home so his family no longer have to live in tents, and to give some immediate financial support to Kumar and Tenzing’s wives and children. However we are dealing with very remote villages in a country thousands of miles away, communication is very limited and so nothing is as easy as it sounds! I know we can achieve all our aims, but we must be patient and not rush, so everything is done properly.



A Kiwi friend and fellow Everest summiteer, Mike Allsop, has also been raising money for Pasang Temba’s house, so we have decided to split the costs between his fund and ours, thus leaving us both with money to help rebuild other houses in the village of Pangboche. The epicentre of the second earthquake was close to Pangboche, which is only a few days walk from Everest base camp and the village suffered greatly from this second major shock, which caused many houses in the village to collapse. So there is much work to be done.

However right now the monsoon is imminent. Rebuilding cannot begin until after the monsoon, which is the middle of September, because the weather during this time is wet and often snowy. But this gives us time to look at building design and purchase the necessary materials. There is of course no point in building a house that will simply fall down again with the next earthquake. The Sirdar (head Sherpa) of our Everest Expeditions, Kame Nuru, lives in Pangboche and was Pasang Temba’s brother-in-law. We have been in touch with Kame, who I know well, and whose house I have stayed in many times before. He is going to be overseeing the rebuilding of the house. Kame had a new house built himself last year and this withstood both earthquakes, so was obviously a much stronger, stable structure than the older houses in the village. He has managed to secure the services of the same builder for Pasang Temba’s house. [photo above: Pangboche village before the earthquakes with the Everest Massif behind.]

Kame’s estimate for the rebuilding is $16,000 (US dollars) - $8000 for materials and $8000 for labour. We will pay one half of this, and Mike the other half. Kame has a bank account which we can transfer funds to directly. He has already sent us a list of building materials which need to be purchased. For those of you who are interested they are as follows:

[photo: many houses in Pangboche were damaged in the second earthquake and now need rebuilding.]

  • 40 Metres of dressed stone $5 a metre.
  • Zinc corrugated roofing   40 pieces presently $20 a piece. Best quality durable.
  • 120 lengths of wood  $35 a length. Door frames window frames etc.
  • 20 sheets of plywood $65 a piece. I think flooring.
  • 60 sheets of thin plywood $25 a piece. Walls and partitions.

This all adds up to $8000. All prices are in dollars.

Some material can probably be salvaged from the wreckage of the old house.

Presently much of the building materials are in the village of Phaplu. Phaplu is at 2413m, has an airstrip and a rough road up from the main roadhead at Jiri. Phaplu is 15 hours drive from Kathmandu and over 7 days walk from Pangboche. There is no road above Phaplu, so the building materials will be flown from there to the airstrip at Syangboche, just above Namche Bazaar, which at 3,780 metres is one of the highest airstrips in the world. From there everything will be carried to Pangboche. [photo: Syangboche airstrip at 3780m, one of the highest in the world]

Phew! Just writing about it makes me feel exhausted! What a journey all the building materials have to make. I did say nothing is simple out there! Everything takes so much time, firstly to organise, because communication is difficult. There are no landline telephones high up in the mountains. Most people will not have a mobile phone, which only works in some locations anyway, since there are very few masts. They certainly cannot afford satellite telephones, and internet is only available in a few locations. Then, once materials have been ordered it takes time, quite a bit of time, for them to be moved from one location to another.

Having walked the trail many many times from Namche Bazaar to Pangboche I really feel for the porters who have to carry it all. There are some long steep hills. But people who live there are used to this. It might take us 8 hours to walk from Namche to Pangboche, but the locals will think nothing of doing the same walk, just to go to the local market in Namche on a Saturday and returning laden with goods – often on the same day! Which they carry home on their backs! [photo: The trail from Namche Bazaar to Pangboche]












[Photo: At Namche Bazaar market]                                            


Kumar's family live in the village of Chheskam in the Khumbu or Everest region, between Lukla (the airstrip that trekkers fly in to) and Phaplu. Kumar left four children, two boys and two girls. Every spring Kumar worked as assistant cook on our Everest expeditions and in the autumn he worked as assistant cook on other local climbing expeditions. The rest of the year he worked as a cook boy for our Sirdar Kame in his house in Pangboche. So he spent most of his time either in the village of Pangboche or on Everest. This is the normal way of things, in that the men will work away from home in order to earn money and send that money back to their families. So they don’t often spend a lot of time in their own home with their wives and children. As a cook boy Kumar would have earned approximately $2000 (US dollars) a year.

At the family house in Chheskam, Kumar’s wife has small agricultural plot where she grows vegetables. Whilst Kumar was away, mother and children would tend the land together. In general people up in the mountains grow what they eat. Since there are no roads, getting food any other way is difficult. They don’t always have monetary income. Any surplus food they will sell or barter in exchange for things like paraffin (for lamps and stoves) and matches. It is a very simple way of life.

[Photo: Kumar at Base Camp]

The children go to the local school which apparently is very good and we have been advised that neither they nor their mother wish them to go away to the larger school in Khumjung near Namche Bazaar, which we would have been happy to contribute to, but which would involve them staying away from home.

We are at present trying to ascertain how much the family will need per year to live and how much they need in the short term for immediate needs. When we have this information, which should be in the next few weeks, we will be sending them some money. We have been advised that it is better not to send over large amounts of money, but to send smaller amounts over a longer period of time. So this is what we intend to do. Bank accounts have already been set up for the wives of both Kumar and Tenzing in order to facilitate this.

[Photo: Kumar's wife and children]


Tenzing’s family house is in the village of Gorakhani, which is also in the Khumbu region, but at much lower altitude than that of Chheskam or Pangboche. However at the time of the avalanche his wife and children were living in a small house in Kathmandu. Tenzing worked as a climbing Sherpa and Trekking Guide and the agencies he worked for were in Kathmandu, so that is where he needed to be. As a climbing Sherpa Tenzing would have earned approximately $4,500 - 6,500 (US dollars) a year.

As with Kumar’s family we are still trying to establish how much money Tenzing’s family will need in the short term, and in the longer term.

So that is the situation. Sorry this has been such a long epistle, but we wanted to give you a full report of where we are at and what will happen next.

[photo: Tenzing Left, Kumar Centre]

Climbing Everest taught me a lot, both about myself and how much we can achieve when we work together as a team. On Everest the sherpas are a large part of our team. Without them to carry loads on the mountain, to fix ropes, to dig tent platforms out of 45 degree ice slopes at Camp 3, then most people would never climb the mountain. I certainly wouldn't have. And I couldn't have done it without Sherpa Ang Nuru, who climbed with me to the summit, carrying a spare oxygen cylinder for me, clipping me to him when there was no rope and with whom I felt so safe. It was an honour to share the summit with him. The letters of the word TEAM spell Together Everyone Achieves More, and I think we have proved that to be true, with the enormity of what we have achieved so far in raising so much money.

I know that the people in these remote mountain villages will need our support for a long time to come whilst they get back on their feet and begin to rebuild their lives. So the fundraising is going to be ongoing. I have no intention of stopping here, I am simply going to raise the bar higher. I would like to help rebuild other homes in Pangboche, including that of my Sherpa Ang Nuru, whose house has also collapsed. I owe that to him, at least.

If you would still like to donate you can find information on how do to do this on our website or go to our justgiving page .

Lastly I would like to say a really HUGE thank you to John Duncan of Lighthouse Graphic Design, who has singlehandedly and free of charge created our website and designed posters and postcards for us, not to mention the logo! John is a very welcome addition to our team and I mean it when I say we couldn’t have done this without you John.

Thank you all so much for everything you have done and we will keep you updated with further developments.

You’re simply the best.

Sue, Colin, John and the team at Braemar Mountain Sports without whom none of this would ever have happened.


"The danger is not in aiming too high, but in aiming too low and achieving it."