1 year after fire, Sherpas near completion of lodge rebuilding project in Nepal

Travelers lounge on the patio of the recently rebuilt Ama Dablam Lodge in Nepal, owned by seasonal Grand County residents Tashi and Lakpa Sherpa.
Courtesy photo

A little over one full year after a late night fire engulfed and subsequently destroyed their mountain lodge Nepal natives Tashi and Lakpa Sherpa are back in business thanks in part to the generosity of more than a few local citizens.

In late November 2017 a fire broke out in the guest lodge owned and operated by the Sherpas in a remote alpine area of the Nepalese Himalayas on the trail to Mount Everest. The fire quickly engulfed the Ama Dablam Lodge and while the Sherpas themselves were not injured in the incident, nor where any of the guests staying at their lodge at the time, within half an hour the fire destroyed the Sherpa’s home, primary source of income and all their possessions.

The rebuilding process for the new Ama Dablam Lodge began in February of this year. Lakpa Sherpa oversaw the construction process, which included a large crew of local workers. There are no roads leading to the Sherpa’s lodge, in the high alpine territory of the Himalayas not far from Mount Everest. As such all materials used in construction of the new lodge were hauled to the construction site via porters and the construction itself was primarily conducted by hand.

According to Sandy Kukoy, one of the founders of Nepal: Here to Help, most of the new lodge construction was completed in time for the start of Nepal’s tourist season earlier this fall. The new Ama Dablam lodge features 34 guest rooms in the main lodge as well as a separate dining room and kitchen facility.

“From the end of February, this year, until the end of August Lakpa and a crew of many workers worked seven days a week, from dawn to dusk, to rebuild the Lodge,” Kukoy stated. “Their work paid off. The new lodge is beautiful, and all rooms are ready for use. Some work on the lodge still needs to be finished but the rebuild effort is truly a Sherpa miracle!”

Officials from Nepal: Here to Help previously estimated total rebuilding costs on the new Ama Dablam Lodge at around $300,000. According to Kukoy residents of Grand County have donated over $40,000 to the Sherpa’s lodge rebuilding project over the past year.

“Tashi and Lakpa thank you all again for all of your help and support,” Kukoy said. “They could not have done the rebuilding without all of your help.”

The destructive power of the fire was additionally significant to the communities near the lodge because of the Sherpa’s role as the in-country representatives for the Colorado based non-profit Nepal: Here to Help. Every year Nepal: Here to Help holds a series of charitable events and fundraising drives. The organization is focused on improving the lives of Nepal’s residents of the Everest region. The Sherpas assist Nepal: Here to Help with distributing funds to local families along with other duties.

According to Kukoy the Sherpas had already distributed funds to clients of the charitable organization prior to the outbreak of the fire last year. While the lodge rebuilding efforts have kept the Sherpas very busy over the last 12 months Nepal: Here to Help was still able continue its charitable efforts in the impoverished mountain nation in 2018.

In October this year US officials from Nepal: Here to Help made their annual trek to Nepal to disperse funds and donated items to their clients. For the 2018 trip officials from the nonprofit brought solar powered lanterns, fleece jackets and sundresses, sewn and donated by the Grand Lake based group Destination Dresses, along with their annual allotment of funds. During their recent visit to Nepal Kukoy and other representatives from Nepal: Here to Help provided assistance to 40 children, who receive nutritional and educational support, as well as 21 village elders who received food donations.

Tashi and Lakpa Sherpa are well known to many residents of Grand County. The Nepalese couple spends Nepal’s summer monsoon season living and working in Middle Park. The Sherpas can often be found at summer events in the Fraser Valley selling Nepalese jewelry.

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