"It is not possible without the Sherpas," is a clich? among mountaineers. But as soon as they get back to their countries they forget about them. Other than a few like Edmund Hillary and Junko Tabei, most summiteers usually ride the glory of their climb without a thought for those who made it possible. Now there is one more person who is showing his thanks in concrete ways. British mountaineer Doug Scott is involved in building a porter shelter in Machermo in Gokyo valley, three days' walk from Namche Bazar.
Scott saw that porters suffer the most when they are hired by disorganised and cheap agencies. Since there are very few houses in Machermo, there isn't enough room for the porters. "We started the shelter to protect the porters from the cold and other hardships," says Scott, "The cold and high altitude endangers their lives."
According to the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG), in the last decade at least three porters died each year in the Himalaya. The proposed shelter will cost Rs 5.8 million and is at about 5,420m on the route to Cho La peak, considered one of the toughest trekking passes. Two hundred trekkers go there annually despite the high risk of extreme cold coupled with high altitude. "This shelter will really be of great relief for the porters," says Ang Tshering, president of the Nepal Moutaineering Association, which had also helped set up a similar shelter in Lobuche and the Island peak area. Scott plans to hire a medical doctor and a nurse for the peak tourist season and has been helping porters through Community Action Nepal.