Porter rescue shelters provide affordable overnight accommodation for mountain porters and medical assistance through the volunteer doctors on site. The shelters prevent serious illness and even death of porters who themselves do not always understand the dangers of altitude.
They also provide medical and altitude sickness prevention services to trekkers. This is a ‘to pay for’ service which helps funds the running of the shelters.
Community Action Nepal (CAN) and the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG) have previously built two Porter Rescue Shelters in the Everest base camp area at Machhermo and Gorak Shep. IPPG organises the day to day running of the shelters and all the medical services offered, while CAN organises and manages the construction of the shelters. Due to a combination of climate change and trekker preferences, there is now an urgent need to build a third shelter and medical room at the remote Gokyo Lakes area (5200m). Porters Progress UK have partnered with CAN and IPPG to raise the funds required for the construction of this shelter.
Each year, during the two trekking seasons, 3000-4000 porters will pass through the area covered by the 3 shelters: Machhermo, Gorak Shep and Gokyo. It is estimated that around 800 porters receive treatment at the existing shelters each season, and we anticipate that the addition of a shelter at Gokyo will save many more lives and prevent suffering. The distances covered during a high altitude trek are so great that a trekking group taking the Gokyo Lakes route to Everest base camp would not be able to reach the existing shelters in time to prevent serious escalation if one of the group became ill with an initially treatable condition. The new shelter will provide emergency accommodation for up to 100 porters.
PROGRESS TO DATE
Construction at 5200m poses many challenges. Breaking boulders to provide building stone requires huge effort. In addition, all the materials such as timber and nails must be brought to the site from a considerable distance and along some of the world’s highest mountain treks. The very short “weather window” during which construction can reasonably take place is a further challenge.
The estimated cost to complete this project stands at £52,000 and we are delighted to report that this total has now been fully covered by donations received (46% of which have come via PPUK). There is also a substantial commitment from the local community who will be responsible for the running of the shelter under the guidance of CAN and IPPG doctors.
The proceeds of the sale of raffle tickets at the recent Night on Everest and Best of Kendal events were used to purchase two Gammow (hyperbaric) bags for use in the medical room at Gokyo.
The aim is to complete the construction to roof level by Autumn 2013, and the following is a summary of progress to date:
- Breaking of boulders to provide building stone and collection on site
- Purchase of timber and transport to site by porters
- Joinery of window frames and door frames. This was undertaken in Khumjung, a village lower in the Khumbu valley.
- Organisation of the food and subsistence supplies in preparation for the construction labourers arriving on site.
- Commencement of construction work on site.
UPDATE – June 2014 – PROJECT COMPLETION
“We are very grateful for your support. Without your help we could not build this in my life. We could not build it in my children’s life.” Nawang Sherpa (local member of the Gokyo Building Committee)
The building at Gokyo is structurally complete and the porter shelter is now operational with an outside contractor providing food. There is still some way to go however before the fitting out of the rescue post and medical room is completed. Through the continued generosity of our supporters, we are pleased to have been able to pay for two of the panels to be used in the solar power facility as well as various items of essential medical equipment.
As with the facility at Machermo, the shelter and recue post at Gokyo is run by volunteer doctors from the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG), whose activities are described in greater detail elsewhere on our website. IPPG have reported a significant increase in the number of trekkers passing through Gokyo. If numbers continue to increase at the current rate it is envisaged that the Gokyo post will require increasing resources to be devoted to it. One of IPPG’s priorities at Gokyo is to ensure that they deliver high altitude awareness and porter welfare talks to trekkers who may not have visited the Machermo post where talks have been given to more than 8000 trekkers since 2008.