BD employee Kolin Powick reports on his volunteer work at the Khumbu Climbing Center in Nepal
Black Diamond Equipment’s Director of Global Quality, Kolin Powick, has taken four weeks off of work here in Salt Lake City to volunteer his time and expertise at the Khumbu Climbing Center in Nepal. Numerous BD athletes have gone to support the center in the past (including Cedar Wright and Conrad Anker), but this is the first time a BD in-house employee has made the trip to support the non-profit center. Kolin sent us the following email shortly after his arrival at the center along with some photos from his first few days in country.
I’ve been in Nepal for over 10 days now (too bad I can’t say the same for my four 50-pound duffels which were lost by the airlines). I’m here volunteering at the Khumbu Climbing Center, part of the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation. The goal of the Climbing Center is to teach the locals who work or want to work in the mountains how to do it safely. This is the ninth year of the Khumbu Climbing Center and I’m truly honored to be included as one of the six Western Instruction Staff.
After a joyous 45-hours of travel (where I picked up the funk), I arrived in Katmandu with three other Western Staff: Steve Mock, Mike Shaw and Jesse McGahey. Unfortunately my bags didn’t make it. I spent the next three days laid up in bed trying to recover from the funk and hoping my bags would show. For some reason one bag showed—the one with my climbing gear… so that was good. The guys had to head into the Khumbu while I waited one more day for my four bags. No luck. Bags or no bags, it was now time to go, but I needed to make a quick pit stop to the tourist district to buy some clothes. Unfortunately they had a limited selection, so I’m sporting some sweet women’s long underwear as I type this.
Pete Athans (another Western Instructor and all-around bad ass) and I headed into the Khumbu together. With over 30 trips to Nepal (including seven Everest summits) under his belt and being fluent in Nepali, Pete was an ideal tour guide, especially for a non-world-traveler like myself.
A heart-in-your-throat flight into Lukla, and three days of walking through Namche took us to the village of Phortse and the home of the Khumbu Climbing Center. I couldn’t have felt much more lame, carrying my seven kilo pack with camera gear as we passed porters carrying triple loads (91kg). Unbelievable. To say the walk was spectacular would be quite the understatement. I almost biffed it countless times as I was constantly staring up at Everest, Lhoste, Ama Dablam and Tawoche. Unreal.
Two days into the hike we got word that another of my bags had showed up in Katmandu. Unfortunately it wasn’t the duffel with my clothes; it was a duffel of donated gear for the school… still a small victory. The final Western Instructor, Renny Jackson, would be arriving in a few days so he would be able to bring the retrieved gear with him.
We started off with a daylong instructors seminar, talking about consistent technique and proper use of gear. Yesterday we sorted through all of the center’s donated gear (some which was a bit worse for wear) and began registering the 66 students as they arrived for the 10-day Basic Class. The curriculum including knots, belaying, rock climbing, ice climbing ascending fixed ropes, rescue techniques, map and compass work, geology, wilderness first aid and English classes. A jam packed schedule for sure.
Word is a third duffel arrived today. Once again… not the one with my clothes… more gear for the school, but at least Renny would be able to get it before he makes the trek.
This morning was the opening ceremony including the welcoming and blessings, and then it was straight to work: knots and basic belaying. Soon we’ll hit the rock and ice. Stay tuned for a second installment… maybe by then my final bag will be found and I’ll be in some clean clothes. That would be nice.
Out for now from the chilly Himalayas