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Vail Valley’s Sherpa Foundation leading Everest expedition, building more houses in Nepal

Vail Valley’s Sherpa Foundation leading Everest expedition, building more houses in Nepal

EDWARDS — A house in Nepal costs about the same as one section of a concrete driveway in the Vail Valley.

That's one reason the Sherpa Foundation was able to finish its 187th house in three years in Nepal, and even came up with a clean way to heat them.

Yet there is still so much to do, said Vail Valley businessman Pemba Sherpa, owner of Sherpa Painting.

When a series of earthquakes devastated Nepal in 2015 — killing thousands and leaving tens of thousands homeless — like so many others, Pemba wanted to speed to his home village. Instead, he stayed in the Vail Valley and joined with some others to found the Sherpa Foundation.

Since then, they have built or rebuilt 187 homes and repaired more than 1,000 others.

A collaboration with the Himalayan Stove Project helps provide a clean way to heat those homes during the brutally cold Nepal winters.

"In a developing country, the money goes a long way," Pemba said. "A house is where everything starts. To repair their damaged homes and put a roof over their heads, that's where it begins."

EVEREST EXPEDITION

You don't have to take our word for it. You can see for yourself. Pemba and others lead treks throughout Nepal. He has assembled a team of top Sherpa guides to lead an expedition to the world's tallest mountain.

"The Mount Everest 2020 Sherpa Guides team simply knows Mount Everest better than anyone in this world," Pemba said.

The team has led 355 major expeditions, summited Mount Everest 170 times, helped 1,190 people from around the globe reach to the top of world and helped them get back down safely, Pemba said.

During their 355 major expeditions, the team members have climbed 26,000-feet-plus mountains more than 1,530 times. Each Sherpa guide reaches the 26,200-feet summit between seven and 13 times per expedition to drop supplies and clean up, Pemba said.

The trip is scheduled for 2020, so you have time to get in shape. And you have to qualify to make this trip, so get on the treadmill today.

If you're lucky, you'll pass through Sotang, a remote farming village. Villagers have no medical facility for giving birth. The nearest one is a two-day walk. It's common for women to give birth along the path on the way. Sometimes mothers and babies live; sometimes they don't.

The facility will help tip those odds in favor of life.

"It's human nature that, until we see something, we don't know we need to do something about it," Pemba said. "We cannot keep watching people die on that trail."

EVERY DIME, EVERY TIME

No one gets paid to be part of the Sherpa Foundation. Every dime is spent to help people in Nepal.

Pemba is back and forth from the Vail Valley to Nepal several times a year. He even pays his own airfare and travel expenses.

"The valley supports our vision in Nepal. I'm proud to support the valley," Pemba said. "To gain the trust that the money is going where we say it is, that is a big responsibility. We have done so much that could take years and years for other organizations because of our connections."

When he started, it was important to stay under the Nepali government's radar. But that can be a challenge with the organization doing so much for so many Nepali people.

So last year, Pemba was summoned to Kathmandu to receive the Nepali Medal of Honor, the Nepal government's highest honor.

"Can you believe it has been just a little over three years since we began helping in Nepal? Because of your generous support, we are able to reach so many places and accomplish so many types of projects," Pemba said.

Unfortunately, the help these people and their communities need is still huge, ranging from a home to wishing for a good, filling meal for the day, Pemba said.

It helps that Pemba and others are from Nepal. That local knowledge and connections have helped make their projects so successful, he said.

"There are lots of benefits for those who go and for those who help guide," he said. "You can experience so much more and go places that are otherwise closed to outsiders."



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