On the 18th of April this year, death visited Everest when an avalanche struck on the icefall between Camp 1 and Camp 2, killing sixteen Nepalese guides who were fixing ropes and carrying supplies. The avalanche was the deadliest in Everest's history and families, co-workers, and friends struggled to come to terms with the sudden loss of their loved ones.
The events on Everest brought a particularly personal loss and sense of sorrow to us at Mountain Equipment as one of the fallen guides, Ankaji Sherpa, was a personal friend with whom several of us had had the privilege of climbing. The discussions following the avalanche addressing concerns about the paltry compensation offered to the guides for their deadly job, and the question of whether the season at Everest would continue this year in light of the tragedy, were brought home to us in an way we might not otherwise have experienced: the loss of income, the loss of a family provider, and the dangers of the job were directly affecting people we feel fortunate to be able to call friends.
The world of news is transient and fast-changing, and it's difficult to keep attention focussed on something which is 'yesterday's news'. But the events on Everest brought repercussions which are ongoing for Ankaji's family and his six children. As the time for Reel Rock rolled around this year, we realised we have an opportunity to help and give something back; something meaningful in return for the years of friendship, the breathtaking experiences in Nepal, and the shared memories.
So this year, Mountain Equipment is donating 50% of all Reel Rock ticket sales to an education fund for Ankaji's children. This is in support of Himalayan Ascent, the company Ankaji worked for, who have set up a trust fund for the children to which you can also donate directly (details below).
Ankaji Sherpa was a skilled and fast climber with 5 Everest summits amongst other 8000m peaks under his belt. Often backing up peak after peak within the same season. But more importantly Ankaji was a skilled guide. Always patient and always climbing along those he was looking out for. The day of the accident, he was accompanying his brother's son-in-law, their camp 2 kitchen assistant Pem Tenji through the ice fall. It was his first time. And although Ankaji could have moved through the ice fall faster and missed the avalanche, he was giving encouragement every step of the way to Pem.
Our thoughts are with his family and in particular his 6 children. If you would like to make a personal donation to the trust fund for his children's education, please use the details below.
Account name: Everest One
BSB: 064 804
Account #: 1363 8120
Description or memo: Ankaji's appeal fund
If you have any questions regarding the trust fund or other ways you can help, please contact Mountain Equipment through phone or email here. Or you could contact the managers of the fund Himalayan Ascent here.
Multiple Mountain Equipment staff past and present have climbed and trekked alongside Ankaji and not only owe a lot to him for invaluable experiences, but can also attest to his selfless and professional nature. Rest in Peace Ankaji Sherpa.