Report #3: 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, took 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. Following up on his first and second email reports, Kolin sent us this final email update when he got back to his desk a couple weeks ago.
Day 10 of the basic class—Exam Day. Everything that the students had learned would be tested, and it wasn’t easy. Not everyone passed, but even those that didn’t walked away with a wealth of knowledge and skills that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. It’s the intent and hope of the Khumbu Climbing Center that these students now have a foundation that will help keep them and their clients safer in the big hills, and I believe that was accomplished. The next day was graduation: a ceremony, speeches, handing out of certificates and the obligatory photo opportunities.
Most of the students immediately blasted down valley to get back to their families and lives, while we had about 36 hours before the Advanced Class started. So a few of us Western Instructors decided to head up valley, a quick day’s walk, to the next village in order to get better views of Everest, Lhoste, Nuptse, Tawoche and Ama Dablam. It was mind blowing. To be standing in the midst of these great peaks was something I’ve always dreamt of—now I’ll just need to return in order to climb something.
Our one day off was a much needed break, but as the Advanced Students arrived, it was directly back to work. Fewer students (about 30), smaller groups and a more intense program allowed and required more one-on-one direct instruction. There was review of rope work, belay technique and general safety, but then it was right into the meat of it: advanced climbing techniques, leading, multi-pitch climbing, advanced anchor building, crevasse rescue, vertical rescue, tandem rappelling, hauling systems, ascending and descending fixed lines, etc. A full-on jam-packed, intense eight-day course.
Upon completion of the curriculum and another graduation ceremony, there was no time to waste—I needed to get back to work. A few of us made the trek back to Lukla in one long day and managed to get on the first flight out the next day back to Katmandu. Shortly after it was the 45 hours of travel back to Salt Lake City—and mere hours later I was sitting in my office.
As I sit here, in my heated office after having a hot shower this morning and wearing clean clothes, it all seems surreal. What seems like yesterday I was in the Himalaya meeting amazing people, seeing incredible scenery, and teaching climbing: truly a life changing experience. Everyone is asking me how my vacation was – my one-word response is always the same, “exhausting”.