Thursday, October 15, 2015

Rebuild Schedules Crumble due Fuel Crisis

There are so many unresolved issues in Nepal right now. The current fuel blockade being the most
Friendship Highway- Nepal/China trade route
serious at hand post quake. Rebuild projects have come to a grinding halt and the government has not spent the 4.4 billion in aid money, and winter is coming. Health, shelter, water, electricity, food and the overall morale of the country is at risk. This is the making of a humanitarian disaster. 

This crisis may never be completely resolved in our lifetime. Relations between India and Nepal have been tense for many years and  the governments lackadaisical approach to resolutions is their worst enemy. The impact of this crisis will have a harsh impact on what remains of a fragile Nepal if fuel doesn't start to flow with adequate amounts, not just trickles.  

We believe India knows fine well that China can't supply Nepal's fuel needs efficiently, the costs to
Recent land slide - Friendship Highway
Nepal to fly fuel to Kathmandu would be astronomical - but never say never when it comes to China. The trade route between Tibet and Nepal (The Friendship Highway) was in bad shape well before the earth quake, this road is not suitable for fuel trucks. It's a very difficult canyon highway that has been sliding significantly the past 3 years. China announced they had no interest in repairing the highway this year post quake and have now made a narrow attempt for passage for goods. 

 Last year a slide on this road created a dam making a dangerous lake upstream. Miraculously the earth split just enough one night to release trapped water slowly taking a piece of heavy equipment with it sparing thousands of lives below had it blown open all at once. Our first slide experience here was in 1991 while making our way to Everest on the north side, Tibet. The road runs along side the class 5 Sun Koshi river. Equipment is stationed on this road all year to open slides. It's one of the worlds most dangerous highways. Yes! as seen on TV.

The fuel crisis news seems to be quiet right now because Dashian festival preparations are underway.
FSH - first phase project construction complete, roof is on. 
This is the biggest festival in Nepal, like our Christmas, it's a 2 week celebration. Nepal desperately needs some happy time but many fear the blockade issues will heat up again after the festival. Many people return to their mountain villages for the festival by bus. This may not be an option this year and may create even more tension between the countries.

 China day before yesterday opened the Friendship Highway marginally, to get their firecrackers, decorations, celebration treats , relief goods, and so on into the country for the festival, no fuel has been transported via this route at the time of this post.

Dozens of flights to Kathmandu have been affected in recent weeks killing NGO rebuild volunteer projects, and now including ours. China South and Eastern originally halted ticketing first till October 10th to Nepal. Yesterday they started cancelling November flights, this has affected our earth bag build team project volunteers. To us this
means there is anticipation that this crisis will continue well after the Dashian festival. 

On that note, we are extremely saddened to report that our Peak Freaks Earth Bag school project is postponed till next year. Durga Aran, project director has been on the ground since September and has successfully completely the first project (minus the mudding) on one of three projects before the crisis. He reports they are at a standstill waiting for fuel to get supplies in to continue with the other projects. He finished the initial construction phase of project #1 seen in the adjacent photos, however he is now unable to get earth movers and supplies in for our November project. Durga thinks that even if the fuel did start to flow right now, it will be many weeks before it reaches areas outside Kathmandu. 

We've been watching other projects plans like ours fall like dominos since the fuel crisis. Sad sad day for us here at Peak Freaks to have to make this announcement to Nepal and our volunteers.

Tim will still be climbing in Nepal with his teams and checking in on friends to learn of the situation in the Khumbu. 

Nepalese people are incredibly resilient, if anyone can survive this crisis, they will, and we will applaud them.

Becky & Tim Rippel


  1. Entirely predictable knock-on effect, sadly. Until and unless the Nepali Government starts to put its people first and not its own positions and pockets, this state of affairs will never ever improve.

  2. To little, much to late. Incredibly irresponsible to the people of Nepal. It could have all been so different. A world model using a fresh approach to living life among the hills in peace and beauty.