This will be a quick post because I don’t know much about what is going on yet. A freak blizzard on the popular Annapurna Circuit Trail has killed at least 28 trekkers and dozens more at least are trapped.
Here’s a good BBC article on the latest. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-29640241
And here’s a heartbreaking account by a surviving Israeli trekker who was rescued though several of her friends were killed. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/16/nepal-blizzard-survivor-deaths-annapurna-refuge
I’m in Pokhara, which is the nearest large town to the trek. We’re seeing helicopters buzz over for rescues and transport, but on the streets of this touristy town you couldn’t tell that a massive tragedy was unfolding so close to us. I’m struggling to figure out my role in this. It’s hard not to take the first jeep back to Chamje, the end of the road on the Circuit, to see where I can help. I’m conscientious of not wanting to get in the way of rescue efforts, but I hate just sitting here in Pokhara. Last night I couldn’t sleep, and it wasn’t just my bout of food sickness. If I wasn’t lying awake thinking about the trekkers, I was dreaming about them. It’s heartbreaking to remember passing all of the trekkers on our last day of the Manaslu trek, knowing now that they were headed into a deadly blizzard. Or that if I hadn’t been forced to lay low because of my knee and sunburned lip that I’d have been out on an Annapurna trek too. Or that if the cyclone had struck just a week earlier that it would have been Vince, Gabe and I trapped on a snowed-in pass at 17,000 feet. A few days ago a French trekker was killed on our Manaslu route when he slipped and fell into the swollen Budhi Gandaki River. It’s absolutely humbling and chilling to think that so many people are dead having done exactly what we had been doing at a slightly different time. Obviously I’m still coming to terms with this tragedy.
Via Facebook I’m in touch with families who are missing loved ones and trying to coordinate some information in a country whose strong point is not communication. Ideally I would like to head up to the Annapurna region tomorrow for peer debriefing and trauma support, but it’s difficult to know if heading up there would be helpful or just add to the chaos. Even being on the ground here, it’s tough to get news. Hopefully I’ll have a better update soon. I’m supposed to be in Kathmandu in a week for the Mazamas’ Sherpa debriefing trip, but this tragedy is looming as more important at the moment. If anyone reading this happens to know someone who I could get connected with to get up there, or wants me to seek information on a specific person please email me. ColleenSinsky@gmail.com
Send your prayers/thoughts/good vibes towards the families of those missing loved ones and those still trapped in the snow.