Last updated: 03:30 PM ET, Tue August 11 2015

Report on Post-Quake Nepal is Positive for Trekkers

Tour Operator | David Cogswell | August 11, 2015

Report on Post-Quake Nepal is Positive for Trekkers

PHOTO: The earthquake epicenter. (Photo courtesy U.N.)

Sometimes nature wreaks havoc, but sometimes the random violence of a natural disaster may leave some things in better order than before.

As improbable as it sounds, the government of Nepal is reporting that a study has shown that the earthquakes in April and May in Nepal left little damage to the Everest area and that some of the region is actually safer than before the earthquake. Perhaps, like the stock market, the land around Everest just needed an adjustment.

The report was given to the Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Mr. Kripasur Sherpa on Aug. 7 and presented to the press and the public at a press conference in Kathmandu.

Intrepid Travel, the Petaluma, Calif.-based adventure tour operator, helped the government of Nepal to conduct the study of the area to determine how safe it is for travelers and trekkers.

Intrepid, which claims to be one of the largest trekking operators in Nepal, provided local guides to help the government with the logistics of carrying out the study of the new lay of the land in the Everest area.

With the beginning of the tourism season approaching, the report commissioned by the government of Nepal concluded that the earthquake left “minimal damage” to most of the trails and accommodations in the Everest region.

A team of engineers who specialize in geotechnical phenomena and structural concerns did an “initial rapid reconnaissance” and found some hazards that are being referred to as “minor.”

The report recommended re-routing part of the Everest trail and rebuilding and relocating some of the structures in the Tok Tok and Benkar villages.

An engineering report released by the government last month found “very little damage to the area in north-central Nepal. It found only 3 percent of buildings damaged by the earthquake" and those were assessed as “easily reparable.”

The reports identify hazards that were not results of the earthquakes, which will serve as guides to creating safer itineraries. The studies also offer suggestions as to how signage in the area can be improved.

Nine important bridges were assessed and no earthquake damage was discovered. More than 700 buildings in 15 villages were assessed and 83 percent of them were found to be safe and sound. Those that are damaged are seen to be reparable. And any rebuilding can be done using new technologies that will result in safer buildings in the long run.

More damage was found in the lower valley below Namche than in the upper valley. The engineers conducting the study recommended closing the trail around the Tok Tok and Benkar village and rerouting it to the opposite side of the Dhudh Kosi River.

The report recommends closing the low trail between the villages of Namche and Khumjung because of geological evidence that suggests that there is frequent rockfall on the low trail between the two villages.

The report also recommends avoiding overnight stays in Shomore until further assessments can be made as to the hazard of further rockfall in the area.  

Darrell Wade, CEO and founder of Intrepid Travel, said, “As far as we’re concerned, the report is all good news, because even where it’s identified issues it means that we now have the information needed to rebuild Nepal stronger than ever before, and ensure the safety of our staff, travelers, and the local communities we visit.”

For the country of Nepal, the news is positive because tourism is vital to the economic health of the region.

“Tourism is the largest employer in Nepal and it’s vital to our economic recovery,” said Ramesh Kumar Adhikari, administrative chief of the Nepal Tourism Board “We know that Everest is a huge draw for visitors – it is a bucket list destination,” 

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