Alex Staniforth – Snowdon Walk For Nepal

Andy Porter Charity Leave a Comment

At 11.56am on April 25th, 2015 the Nepal earthquake struck, killing 9,000 people and injuring a further 23,000. One mllion homes were destroyed. The earthquake triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest, which took the lives of 22 climbers and support staff.

The previous April sixteen Nepali guides were also killed on Everest in an avalanche, bringing the climbing season to a sombre early end. Both times Alex Staniforth, a young mountaineer from Kelsall, outside Chester, was there, hoping to fulfil his dream of climbing the world’s highest peak.
Snowdon-Filming-Walk-4-Nepal--Alan-Hinkes-and-Alex-Staniforth

Alex Staniforth with Alan Hinkes

In the 2015 disaster Alex was near Camp One on the treacherous Kumbhu Icefall, almost 20,000 feet up. Snow was falling gently. He was struggling with the effects of altitude but feeling good about the climb. Still-vivid memories prompted him that this utterly unforgiving place was where the previous year’s avalanche had claimed its victims.

In seconds the world changed. This is what happened in Alex’s own words:

“Suddenly, I heard a stupendous crack and roar from the West Shoulder of Everest on my left that filled the valley and sickened my stomach. There was nowhere to run as a huge deafening rumble accelerated from above. The fog was so thick I could barely see thirty metres ahead. But with my head down the roar closed in with a huge WHACK.

Tonnes of snow went through me in what was a separate avalanche to the one that hit Base Camp. It felt like someone had unleashed a snow cannon and wind tunnel from both directions.

For a split second I thought I was dead. I thought I would be buried for maybe 20 seconds but what felt like minutes, I thought about my family and disbelief that the end was here already. But relief set in as I could see again. “

Alex Staniforth

Since that day Alex has reflected on why he was spared while some of his friends were not, leaving families and loved ones behind. On his long journey home he also encountered some of the wider effects of the devastation, all this in a country that was already one of the world’s poorest. He resolved to use his experience to do something about it and discovered the work of Phase Worldwide, a charity of professionals and volunteers dedicated to helping get Nepal back on its feet.
So, one year on Alex was on a different mountain in a very different circumstance having organised a walk up Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales and England, to raise funds and awareness for Phase Worldwide. 120 people joined him, including a Veracity crew, comprising producer Andy Porter, camera operators Jordi Vidal Oliveras and Rob Dalton and Andy’s daughter Hannah (stills photographer/PA).
Snowdon-Filming-Walk-4-Nepal--Hannah and Dan

Rob Dalton roaming with the Ronin rig

It was a day when three Nepali mountaineers from the fateful 2015 Gurkha expedition and Himalayan legend Alan Hinkes rubbed shoulders with fell walking novices and climbing adventurers, experienced mountain leaders and enthusiastic amateurs, all united by a desire to do something to commemorate the anniversary in a positive way.
Despite some hideous forecasts the mountain weather gods looked kindly on the groups as they carefully made their way up the mountain. At 11.56 precisely, everything stopped and in the spirit of the Nepalese people the newly formed band of brothers and sisters clapped, cheered, whistled and roared their appreciation for those whose lives had been so tragically affected. It was an incredibly moving minute, the complete opposite of a Minute’s Silence, but if anything even more affecting in that place, as the cacophony echoed and cascaded down the mountain.
Snowdon-Filming-Walk-4-Nepal--George Manley

Gurkha officer Govinda Rana and guide/storyboard artist George Manley

On the summit it was below freezing and misty, with occasional tantalising glimpses of sunlight and almost other-wordly views of Snowdonia tumbling across to Anglesey and the Irish Sea as wind blew the clouds to first one side then the other. Just below the summit cairn, sheltered from the weather, Alex read out the names of those who died on Everest in 2014 and 2015. It was poignant and appropriate.
Snowdon-Filming-Walk-4-Nepal--Jordi Filming

Camera operator & mountain goat Jordi Vidal Oliveras

Photographs were taken, smiles exchanged and a trail of brightly coloured Nepali scarves securely attached to rucksacks fluttered their way back down to Llanberis. Even the mountain rescue helicopter took time out to make a fly past, delivering its own tribute to the people of Nepal.
Snowdon-Filming-Walk-4-Nepal--Alex and team

A tribute to the Nepalese people on the summit

Over £15,000 has so far been raised by the Walk 4 Nepal. Once edited our film will be used to promote the work of Phase Worldwide and raise awareness of the continuing work that needs to be done. To see photographs of the day, check out #Walk4Nepal on Twitter. You can still donate via Just Giving

 

“Nepal is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and it has deep and long-established links to the United Kingdom. The Himalayas, Everest and the continuing story of the sacrifice and courage of the Gurkhas hides a deeper truth about the fragility of life for many Nepalese people.

Some 7 million to 8 million people out of Nepal’s population of 19 million live in absolute poverty. Malnutrition rates in Nepal are among the highest in the world. More than 2 million people in Nepal do not have access to a safe water supply, and more than half the population do not have access to a proper toilet.

Many families see their menfolk forced to migrate for some of each year—usually, but not always, to India—to earn a living for their families as incomes are simply too low in Nepal.”

(EXTRACT FROM UK PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE, HANSARD, APRIL 25, 2016)

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