Himalayan Descent Challenge to raise funds for Covid-struck Nepal

Descent Challenge, Fiver for Ed, descentchallenge.org

Mountaineers and alpinists are known for their uphill struggles, but that is only half the battle.

Throughout August some of New Zealand’s top outdoor enthusiasts have signed up to cover between 3724 and 40660 meters- the equivalent of the Seven Summit Challenge – all down hill.

Himalayan Trust’s Descent Challenge is raising funds for education projects and school resources in the mountains of Nepal.

Challenging participants to descend at least the height of Aoraki / Mount Cook, this can be done by bike, ski or foot. However you will have only 31 days to do so and gain pledges.

The Trust is aiming to raise $50,000 over the next month.

Mountaineers will be familiar with Newton’s Law – what comes down, must first go up – but only descents will count towards totals.

Donations – on the other hand – will all go towards the Trust’s work in the Everest region.

Descent Challenge, Fiver for Ed, descentchallenge.org

The Hillary family skiing in New Zealand. Photo / Auckland Musuem, Unesco

Started by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1960, the charity has since built over 150 earthquake-strengthened classrooms and bought school equipment for pupils across Solukhumbu .

Since the 1953 Everest summit by Tenzing Norgay and Hillary the region of Nepal has a long-standing connection to Kiwi mountaineers – few of whom have been able to return since the Covid 19 Pandemic.

Everest guides and Himalayan Trust ambassadors Guy Cotter and Suze Kelley told the Herald last May that they felt it would be “irresponsible” to return at the moment.

While they were forced to hibernate their expedition company, Cotter said they would continue to work with the Sherpa Future Fund and Himalaya Trust as Nepal struggles with the downturn of tourism.

Descent Challenge, Fiver for Ed, descentchallenge.org

Earthquake-strengthened classrooms at the Thame school in Nepal. Photo / Himalayan Trust, Supplied

Having knocked off just 7,200 from his 88,480m goal (or 10 times the height of Everest) this weekend, Cotter says his downhill goal is not so important.

“Its it is however, certainly about helping support the good work that the Himalayan Trust is doing to help the people in the Solukhumbu regions of Nepal.”

Directing people to the fundraising page – he says the project will help provide medical facilities, schools and clean drinking water to the region.

“Please consider donating to my page so we can support the Sherpas through these difficult times,” he wrote.

In May the Himalayan Trust helped raise over $50,000 in 10,000 donations for their Fiver for Ed campaign in addition to the Covid-19 emergency response.

“Tourism is the main source of income in Solukhumbu District, and with all international flights suspended and no tourists visiting, economic hardship has already set in,” said the Trust.

“With no end in sight for this pandemic, we anticipate there will be a need for humanitarian support as well.”

Descent Challenge, Fiver for Ed, descentchallenge.org

Descent Challenge: By ski, bike or foot, it's downhill that counts. Photo / Jay French

Two Wanaka-based ski fields have also partnered with the challenge, and are giving away downhill passes every week for sponsored skiers working on their downhill totals.

“Cardrona and Treble Cone are excited to be involved with such a great initiative in the Descent Challenge,” said a spokesperson.

“We’re encouraging skiers and snowboarders to get involved in the descent challenge to help raise funds and awareness for the amazing work the Himalayan Trust do. Get out there and get skiing and snowboarding!”

To find out more and support the Descent Challenge visit descentchallenge.org

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