By: Bart Beck
As an outdoor retailer, Appalachian Outdoors is often in the business of helping to keep people safe as they pursue the activities they love. Whether it’s outfitting somebody with a GORE-TEX shell to protect them from the elements or supplying a climber with a cam to complete their rack, it’s all to keep people safer and more comfortable in the outdoors. As outdoor enthusiasts, we often like to believe that we are ready for anything that the world has to throw at us. We plan, prepare, and practice, and then we do it all over again, just to make sure that we have it right. Ask any climber and they will probably tell you that preparedness in the act of redundancy goes beyond the rock and has become a part of their lives. Unfortunately, some things in life cannot be accurately predicted or easily prepared for.
Over this past weekend, such a thing happened when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. As one of the mountaineering destinations of the world, many climbers from all over the globe, along with their hardworking sherpas, were affected when the quake caused icefalls and avalanches. This led to climbers on Mount Everst being stranded and requiring evacuation.
At the time of me writing this, the Associated Press reported that 17 people died and 61 were injured at base camp alone. Overall, the total death count in Nepal has climbed into the thousands and reached as far as India and Tibet. The U.S. State Department also stated that at least three U.S. citizens have passed away in the accident. When such catastrophes happen and human lives perish in such numbers, it is truly humbling and reminds us that some acts of nature are out of our control. These events also have the ability to bring people and nations together in a common humanitarian goal.
Nepal’s neighbors, China and India, are said to have already dispatched personnel to aid in search, rescue, and relief. On Sunday, the Pentagon made an announcement that it has sent a large aircraft filled with personnel and cargo to aid in the recovery. For those who are unable to help directly, I am sure that their thoughts are with those who have been affected.
From the people of Nepal, to the sherpas who put their lives in danger as their profession, our hearts go out the them and their families. Sherpas and mountaineers often live their lives on the edge and understand the frailty of life. For those who don’t risk life as part of their routine, let this be a reminder of how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away. On your next big thrill or simple hike, take time to remember and appreciate the adventure of life and all of those who have gotten the chance, however brief, to experience it.