Sunday, July 19, 2015

Nepalese Airline Stepping up Safety

Tara Air, the airline Peak Freaks uses for flights to Lukla has added a faculty new Viking  DHC6 400  Twin Otter aircraft to its fleet. The second aircraft is due to arrive in September increases safety. 

"Roshan Regmi, marketing manager of Tara Air, said the Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft boasts cutting edge avionics technology with an integrated full glass cockpit that features the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS), Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) to prevent from crashes, and full-color weather radar to show weather conditions.
Canada-based Viking Air had purchased type certificate of the legendary DHC6-300 Twin Otter aircraft from De Havilland in 2005. “It is the most versatile and successful STOL aircraft ever built and it was brought back into production in 2008 as the new Viking Series 400 Twin Otter,” Tara Air said in a statement on Wednesday. “The Series 400 Twin Otter picks up where the original de Havilland Series 300 Twin Otter left off, introducing upgraded Pratt & Whitney PT6A-34 engines, fully integrated Honeywell Primus Apex digital avionics suite, use of composite materials and approximately 800 other modifications incorporated to improve on the original series 300 aircraft.”
According to the statement, the Series 400 retains its ability to safely operate in the most remote and rugged environments in the world, from the sub-zero Antarctica, the hottest deserts in North Africa, the open waters of the Indian Ocean to the mountainous region of the Himalayas. No other Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) aircraft in the world has proven to be as versatile, the statement claimed.
Regmi said that the aircraft will be brought into operation within two weeks, fulfilling all required procedures. He said the new aircraft will be operated in remote STOL airfields of the country like Lukla, Phaplu, Jomsom, Dolpo and Simikot. “The new aircraft will play a vital role in transporting trekkers, local inhabitants and foodstuffs to and from these remote regions,” he added.
Tara Air plans to gradually replace its entire fleet of Series 300 and Dornier Do 228-212 aircraft with the new Viking Series 400 aircraft.
“Our second Viking 400 Series aircraft will arrive in September,” said Regmi.
Tara Air has brought the aircraft on lease for 12 months with an option to purchase after that. The aircraft costs US$ 6.9 million."
Source: Myrepublica

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


When the teachers training centre was built, the earth quake resistance factor was not even considered, but now it makes perfect sense as an affordable and safe and environmentally friendly habitat plan for the future. 


Our logistics are just about complete for the construction of an earth bag school in Sangachok situated in one of Nepal's most devastated regions east of Kathmandu.

We are building a school in conjunction with New Zealand based First Steps Himalaya while locals learn from the process to build their own homes. Earth homes have proven to withstand a 7.8M earthquake. They are finished with mud and chicken wire. The dirt bags and wire allows the structure stay intact while moving.  The current Teachers School that FSH built still stands and is currently being used as shelter for the homeless in this village.…/earth-bag-building-still-standing-…

We are currently running with 1 team of 12 volunteers on November 11, 2015. If everything goes to plan the walls can be assembled in just 10 days time with this many people, and with the help of some of the locals.

To donate

Kudos, hugs and big thanks to each and everyone of you who have stepped up to the plate and donated so far.

Know Your People

We first met Durga Aran, Founding Director of First Steps Himalaya back in 1991 in Nepal when he worked as a waiter at the hotel we frequented, everyone loved his big smile and eagerness to assist.  He won the lotto when he met Fionna Heiton during her time working in Nepal.  More about FSH, Durga and Fionna.!about-us/c14c3


Our other project begins October 11th, we are taking interested trekkers to the Everest region for 13 days visiting Sherpa families and their homes all while doing an assessment of their needs, and to learn about the future of the climbing industry, and to ask our Sherpa families advice on what we can do to make things better.

Autumn is the busiest tourism season in the Himalayas due clearer skies and comfortable temperatures, much busier than spring. We encourage trekkers and climbers to keep coming, getting our friends back to work and bringing a sense of normality back into their lives we feel is very important after this crisis.

Peak Freaks will donate 100% proceeds of this trek to aid these communities.


So many of our people have garnered close relations with Sherpa friends after visiting here climbing and trekking. Those interested can send monetary gifts through us to be delivered directly to friends.

For more information, please email us.

Tim and Becky Rippel

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Nepal Earthquake- Update #3- Phortse

I'm exhausted fielding emails and social posts, but not near as exhausted as the people on the ground must be now.  It's got to be so so hard knowing the terrain, jet-lag, altitudes, monsoon rain and high temperatures on the way, never mind being witnesses to such tragic loss of life and the growing desperation of survivors.

The most painful part for me is while searching around making contacts for people and embassy's, having to return a message saying- " I'm so sorry - they did not survive" and feeling their pain. Most of my returns are saying "we are ok, our house is damaged, but we are ok".

Thankfully at the time of this post most of our Nepalese friends are getting their own messages out on their social sites. Some are good, some are incredibly sad.

Here's a one of those good ones that keeps me going.

Aunty Becky (what Yangzin calls me), We got new life but all safe.
Me and my husband and sister in KTM and our house also very fine. We stayed outside the day and time surfing Internet because we have wifi. All Nepalese people have no light, no water, not enough food, no phone. We got Internet so feeling very lucky. My home in Phortse also fine, papa (Sonam Sherpa- Everest guide) and momma (Yangzi) and brother also very fine. Even uncle Da Nuru's (known to many of our Canadian friends as Dawa, Everest guide) family fine too. But their house is little bit destroyed. Most of the things are ok.
Pictures are other people's houses destroyed in Phortse.  Hope everything ok there and uncle Tim too.  When uncle Tim comes he stay at my house if he not feel safe.

We've known Yangzin Sherwa Sherpa since she was 8 years old. Her father Sonam and her uncle Da Nuru, we've known since they were very young men. They worked hard all their lives to build their homes. Starting out as porters, then kitchen boys, then yak herders, soon climbing Sherpas and eventually Sherpa guides. It's been a long hard road.

                     We wonder what will become of the next generation? Will they rebuild?

Please keep helping, lets not forget too soon. Please donate only to people you trust and who you know will be in a good position to make a difference in the lives of people of Nepal during these desperate times.

1. Oct. 11, 2015- Join us to the Khumbu Everest region. $1000US of your trek fee goes to help stabilize homes and schools all while giving our Sherpa families a sense of normality by getting tourism back up and running again.

2. Nov. 11, 2015- Sanachok- rebuild mission. Building a earth home, safe and affordable housing for the future. Proven to have sustained a M7.8 earthquake.

3. FIRST STEPS HIMALAYA- Portal for donations towards our Sanachok project.

4. Sherpa Direct: Hand to Hand to Sherpa friends from friends who want to make sure donations go in their pockets and do not get reduced by relief agencies or taken by the Nepalese government.

 For more information please email me

Becky & Tim Rippel

Friday, May 1, 2015

Nepal Monsoon Season = floods, landslides and loss of more lives.

This is something we are now quite concerned with. Time needed to get people to safe ground and provide shelter and food is running out.

During a typical monsoon lives are lost each year by this annual event never mind the alteration in the landscape and a warming planet.

Nepal's people and rescue workers are in for some hard times. The land has shifted considerably and we are also looking at an unusual weather threat. One of the reasons we cancelled our Everest season this year was due to the El Nino Modoki phenomenon, to us this meant more than normal moisture in the Himalayas. Not just the pacific warming but a global oceanic warming reeking havoc in the mountains. So far it's appeared to play out as thought on Everest in 2015. Teams were way behind their normal progress and it hasn't changed to the better since the earthquake.

Here's an excerpt from the Weather Channels website on how landslides work.

"By definition, a landslide is when the topsoil of an area essentially 'loses its grip' on the underlying
Sun Koshi landslide August 2014 - Nepal
bedrock, and the entire area moves, en mass, down towards lower ground. This can happen very slowly - which is called 'creep'- and end up causing significant damage to houses, buildings, roads and other important part of our infrastructure over time.

The most dramatic events are the ones that happen very quickly, and those are also the most dangerous.

Often times, though, gravity has a helping hand. Earthquakes can produce an intense jolt that suddenly loosens the grip of friction between the top soil and underlying bedrock on nearby slopes. 

The overwhelming 'ally' for gravity in its fight for supremacy, though, is water!!!!

Not to forget the most recent landslide during the August 2014 monsoon season where a lake was created by a slide that threatened hundreds of villagers below.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Go To Nepal!!!!!

The best thing we can do for Nepal in the wake of this tragic event is to continue going to Nepal. But NOT right now! You being at risk in the region can become a whole host of other problems.

Lovely dirt bag school in the Solokhumbu
After things start getting cleaned up and transportation resumes, the Nepalese people will need to be employed again. Tourism is the food on their table, but more so- it's their heart and soul and the light in their eye.

"They are beautiful people inside and out because of the work they do." 
The sooner they can have a sense of normal in their lives, the faster they can heal and rebuild.

Put October 11 and November 11 on your calendar. We are organizing two rebuilding treks. 100% of the proceeds will go to the villages for rebuilding.

October 11: Everest region  - 15 days - fund raising trek
November 11: Sangachok - 10 days - fund raising and rebuild

Sherpa Direct: We are currently organizing a portal for hand-to-hand donations from us to the Sherpa families in the Khumbu. If you or some you know want to help, give us a shout.

Tim will lead the October 11 trek with his Sherpa crew. Both of us will go to Sangachok. Sangachok lost an estimated 40,000 homes. This is the village where "First Steps Himalaya" built the dirt bag kindergarten children's centre that stood solid throughout the earthquake.  We hope to build more dirt bag homes leading the way for affordable and safer housing for all.

To donate

To put yourself on our list of helpers, please email me at:

Come throw some dirt with us!

Becky Rippel

SUPPLIES LIST - there may well be a shortage of items on the list that will have to bought and sent cargo to Nepal.

  • Shovels
  • Picks
  • Axe's
  • Hammers
  • Tin/Medal
  • Nails/screws
  • Screw drivers/drills
  • Windows
  • Wood products
  • Buckets
  • Plastic on the roll
  • Tarps
  • Plastic bags
  • Rope
  • Saws/hand and power
  • Rebar
  • Motar
  • Paint
  • Preservatives
  • Electrical supplies
  • Solar panel
  • Generator
  • Batteries
  • Portable welder
  • Dining tent
  • Toilet and shower tent
  • Storage tent
  • Stoves, pots
  • Fuel
  • Eating equipment
  • Water purifying equipment
  • Sleeping tents
  • Supplies cargo expenses
  • Workers transport
  • Truck hire

Update #2- Langtang- On the ground report


Chris Jones forward..

Tim - here is am more detailed account from Langtang: Report on situation in Langtang, April 28, from Austin Lord. (researcher friend
of a friend of a friend......)

"Some information about the effects of the earthquake in the Langtang Valley, as well as the rest of Rasuwa:

The village of Langtang was the site of the largest single catastrophe, as the entirety of village was completely buried by an avalanche that came from thousands of feet above on the southern slopes of Langtang Lirung and Langtang II. Smaller settlements on the outskirts of Langtang, such as Chyamki, Thangsyap, and Mundu were also buried. It is impossible to determine exactly how many people died there, but the estimate is perhaps over 300 people in total. The handful of survivors, roughly twelve locals and two foreigners, walked down to Ghodatabela below after spending the night of the 25th in a cave - thus there is no one at Langtang itself. This avalanche is perhaps 2-3 kilometers wide, and is obstructing movement within the upper valley corridor. Currently two large groups are stranded above and below (due to several intensive and recurring landslides in the steep sections between Ghodatabela and Lama Hotel).

Above, at Kyangjin Gompa, there were reportedly fewer casualties (perhaps 5-10) yet many injured. Most of the injured have been evacuated via helicopter and there is an army medic team in place. Yet, currently, the problem is one of food shortage and illness. I have heard that the majority of the settlement, including the gompa, is remarkably intact. There is a smaller group of about 30-40 at the settlement of Sindum, about 4km below Kyangjin and closer to Langtang. This group has excavated several bodies from the major avalanche zone. They have also evacuated many of the injured, but are facing severe food shortages and illness (hopefully remedied by Nepal Army reinforcements and supplies on the evening of the 27th. Above Kyangjin Gompa, there were several smaller groups and climbing teams exploring the Upper Langtang valley, in a very high avalanche risk zone – I do not have good information on these groups, so please contact the respective embassies to determine who has been accounted for and evacuated via Kyangjim. As of the evening of April 27th, there was perhaps 120-140 people remaining above Langtang who need to be evacuated.

Below, at Ghodatabela (where I was located during the earthquake for roughly 55 hours following the event) several large landslides
Pre-earthquake photo
were triggered from all directions, the largest from perhaps 1,500 meters above just below the settlement, completely obstructing passage. The two guesthouses there were partially destroyed by large boulders, and the army checkpoint barracks collapsed during the earthquake. The night after the quake, there were two groups sleeping in separate fields by the river, keeping distance from ongoing landslides and rockfall that continued throughout the night. The first Nepal Army helicopter arrived at about 8:30am, which dropped a “medic team” and took the injured from the upper camp; the second helicopter took more from the upper camp, a chaotic mix of Nepalis and foreigners. The group from below then moved up to the Army checkpost to evacuate their injured, however, the Army helicopter never came back (we were told due to fuel shortage and/or weather – however the Army did not have a radio or phone, or any means of communicating). After these helicopters came, Nepali survivors arrived from above and below, carrying several injured – this was the group closest to the avalanche – yet, unfortunately, the Army had no way of communicating this to the rescue teams. This added a high level of uncertainty to hours of extreme grief, as Nepalis arriving from above and below realized the scale of their loss.

24 hours after the slide, the Army then moved the group to a single location across the river, which proved to be the safest location. In the evening, a private helicopter (with limited seats) arrived to evacuate a group of three Nepalis, yet they were replaced with the five most injured Nepali children (thankfully, yet forcefully). After this, a few of us worked with the Nepal Army to establish a formal triage list, which was 25 Nepalis and 2 foreigners (one Dutch and one Italian) for the next large Army helicopter, which arrived the next morning. We successfully loaded the sick onto the helicopter, with a few other family members accompanying them at roughly 10am on April 27th. The army helicopter did not come back again until 645pm, and in between a private helicopter (a single pilot who did seven trips that day singlehandedly, pro bono) took two small groups of 6 people from Ghodatabela. The loading of all these helicopters was a highly chaotic experience, owing to both fear and ineffective/confused management on behalf of the Army. Communication improved throughout, but fell apart during the most emotional moments. At Ghodatabela, there was originally roughly 65 foreigners and perhaps 110 Nepalis - as of the night of April 27th there were still about 40 foreigners and 60 Nepalis stranded there. My hope is that another helicopter has been coordinated for this morning (I will refrain from the time being from being overly critical of the helicopter evacuation system, there are pros and cons), yet I fear that many evacuation attempts were limited by the storm system that came this afternoon.
As of April 28th, as the aftershocks/tremors and rockfall have largely subsided, I was told that a few groups have successfully traveled from Ghodatabela through Sherpagaun via the high trail to Syaphru Besi. This is good news for the remaining, yet this is highly risky.

Elsewhere in Rasuwa, around Briddim and Lingling and in several places along the road from Dhunche to Betrawati, in places such as Grang and Ramche, the majority of houses collapsed. I am not sure of the casualties caused by structural collapse. The Dhunche road itself seemed passable from the air, as there are no new large slides (other than the existing monsoonal ones), but I was told by someone walking from Syaphru Besi to Kalikasthan that a member of their group had fallen to their death while travelling. Along the Trishuli River valley itself, there are other smaller landslides and reports of significant collapse at Mailung, Simle, and Archale. In Betrawati, Gerkhu, and Mhanegaun in bordering Nuwakot district several houses also collapsed, and there were casualties in all of these places.

The current data on total casualties following the earthquake here in Nepal is approaching 4,500. However, this is probably an underestimate considering that the estimate for the entire district of Rasuwa is 250, and there are at least 300 dead in the area around the village of Langtang alone. Across the board, it is still very difficult to determine exactly what has occurred in remote areas off the road system, as communication is down. Considered in terms of the percentage of total population, my sense is that Rasuwa has likely the third highest rate of fatality, behind Sindhupalchowk (at the epicenter of the major aftershock) and Dhading (closer to the center of the earthquake). Again, Langtang is probably one of the greatest single tragedies of this earthquake.

This is the latest news that I have as of 5pm on April 28th."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Update # 1 Nepal - Just One Sherpa Family

Nima with his daughter and mother, pre-earthquake

We just spoke with Nima Sherpa, 30 year old son of Ang Nima, our trek sirdar and family to us since 1991. Nima now guiding and in the summer he takes work in Norway as a stone mason.

Their home is still standing in Khunde, Khumbu Everest region, but severely damaged, as are all the others. Nima says that everyone is  sleeping outside in tents till their homes can be torn down and rebuilt. It took years upon years of hard work as mountain guides and lodge owners to finally reach a point where their lives were starting to get comfortable, their children are being educated and families starting to enjoy the comforts of western life. In 20 seconds it's gone!

Nima is trying to get out of Nepal to go to work in Norway to raise money for new construction costs. He managed to get a helicopter lift just now that was taking an Everest avalanche victim to Kathmandu. He is not able to access the consulate for a visa because of the chaos and destruction in Kathmandu,  he's now caught up in the mix of millions of Nepalese trying  to put the pieces back together of a shattered life.

Nima confirms that all Peak Freaks staff are safe, no loss of life of any of our people.  Our team and families has managed to dodge the bullet once again.

Grateful everyone is alive - rebuilding we can do!

Becky & Tim

Photos Nima sent just now: