Nepal, a paradise, is my second home: mountaineer Josef Einwaller

Eak Raj Bastola

November 16, 2019


Nepal, a paradise, is my second home: mountaineer Josef Einwaller

KATHMANDU: For Josef Einwaller, a mountaineer and businessman from Austria, Nepal is not a new place. It has been already 50 times that he has visited Nepal since 1988 as a tourist.

“Working long hours for businesses, I want to get out some time for meditation and relaxation”, Josef, who represents European businessman life, recalled the reason behind the story of visiting Nepal.

He was looking for some places with high mountains and distinct natural beauties, serenity, and humble and welcoming people.

“While reading magazines and books, I was fascinated with Nepal”, then Einwaller first dared to visit Nepal. Moreover, Wolfgang Nairz, a very good friend of him who first came to Nepal in 1970 and his 100th visit to this land of natural beauty this year ignited his quest and suggested Nepal as the best place for him.

Wolgfang, also a renowned mountaineer from Austria, was the leader of Austria’s 1978 Everest Expedition in which Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler reached the top of Everest without bottled oxygen. Then it has become his home outside Austria.

“Nepal is my second home,” said Einwaller, calling it “A paradise for holidays”.

He attempted to climb  Mt Everest in 2001 for the first time but returned back from 8000m. He attempted again in 2004 but went back from Camp 4. But, in 2012, at the age of 64, he was atop the Mt Everest with Phurba Tenjing Sherpa. He is believed to be the oldest man from Austria to climb Mt Everest. Besides Mt Everest, he has scaled Mt Amadablam, Mt Pumori, Mt Manaslu and many other peaks.

In 2001, he asked Asian Trekking Pvt. Ltd, a local trekking company, to provide him a Sherpa. The company replied, “There is only Everest no Sherpa as all have already booked for their job.”

The company arranged Phurba Thundu as a Sherpa, who was just 25 at that time. He was so small but literally ‘died’ for me during the Expedition’, he chanted praising the ‘Sherpa’ open hearts.

Then, he was highly influenced by Sherpa’s life, honesty, and culture. He gradually developed emotional attachment towards them.

“I have many friends. Yes, so many close friends but nobody dies for others”, he said the reasons to have internal affection with ‘Sherpa’.

With the 2006 tragic Pumori incident, in which he lost his guide Phurba Thundu Sherpa in course of a mountaineering expedition, his aim in life took a slight turn.

Also Read, ‘Biwak’ and Feratta boost economic activities of Rolwaling Valley: Peluzzi

Since then he has been striving to do something that would help improve the livelihood of the people in the Rolwaling area of Dolakha, the hometown of his guide.

“Rolwaling is like Nepal 50 years ago with no electricity, no mobile, and no internet facilities. It has been completely cut off from those facilities which seem as basic needs of this century of information and communications,” he said.

So, he has a dream that at least this village, a complete Sherpa settlement, would have electricity, communication and health facilities.

Meanwhile, from that day, he has been continuously helping Rolwaling village. In order to promote Rolwaling village, he recently installed steel Biwak at Upper Jabo at the height of 5080 meters, a shelter which is much stronger, classic, modern, reliable, popular and based on advanced rust and waterproof technology.

The Biwak is initiated by Stephan Erich Keck and Phurba Tenjing Sherpa and engineered and developed by Ralf Ohnmacht. Likewise, Nepal Bank Limited, the first commercial bank in Nepal, helped install the Biwak.

This stainless substance is easy to plant and carry, and can be modified in the designs  at the base of Mt. Pacharmo Peak (6273m), which lies in the south of the Tashi Lapcha pass and on the head of Thame Valley in the Everest region marking the border with the Rolwaling valley trekking area to the west.

It generally takes five to six days to reach Namche Bazar after Tashi Lapcha pass. Rolwaling valley is the main access to Mt. Pharchamo (6273m), an attractive snow peak, though this route is very difficult due to potential dangers to porters while crossing the Tashi Lapcha; the only alternative route from the Khumbu side via Namche Bazar.

It has a north-by-northwest ridge, which rises from the crevassed glacier astride the Tashi Lapcha. The face of the ridge forms a uniform slope broken by crevasse and serac rising from the rocky lower buttresses above the Drolambau Glaciers in the west.

Risk of a tent set up, rock falls in the camping site, high risk of getting the tents blown away by the hazardous wind, unexpected snowfall, unpredictable weather conditions, and high altitude are some major challenges for trekkers and voyagers to cross this high pass. Tashi Lapcha Pass is considered as an adventurous and most dangerous pass.

Biwak is named David Lama Biwak in honor of youth, mountain life, and friendship between Austria and Nepal.

David Lama is an internationally renowned sport climber and mountaineer. His father is a mountain guide from Solukhumbu, Nepal and his mother is from Innsbruck, Austria.

David Lama made his remarks in the history of mountaineering by his first free ascent of the Compressor Route (southeast ridge) on Cerro Torre, South America in 2012 and the first ascent of Lunag Ri in the Himalayas in 2018. He was announced the ‘Adventurer of the Year’ 2013, by National Geography.

Unfortunately, at the very young age of 28, David Lama along with his two friends Jess Roskelley and Hansjörg Auer was killed in an avalanche on Howse Peak, Canada while descending on 16 April 2019.

He said Biwak will be a milestone in the field of trekking regarding the safety & security of all trekkers, guides, porters and other travelers where they can eat, sleep and cook. It is just like a tea house.

One can take advantage of this hut as a shelter either for climbing peaks in this region or traveling via Tashi Lapcha pass, Einwaller explained.

“It will help to boost the Rolwaling and make the village more economically sustainable,” he spoke confidently. Due to Tashi Lapcha pass, the Rolwaling is shadowed and, hence, unknown to many. “But now with Biwak and Via Ferrata, Rolwaling will get the new heights,” he hoped. He thought it would be directly beneficial to the village now under the shadow.

“With the establishment of Biwak and Via Ferrata, the risk of slippery and the injury will be very less in Tashi Lapcha”, he further added.

“10 years ahead from now, there will be so hard to find the porters and most of the tourists will be backpackers”, he spoke out about the future.

“We are planning to hand over these to the local authority after we officially launch in coming April,” Einwaller told Khabarhub.

He praised the deed saying a small help from us will help to promote the Rolwaling in the international arena. For its tempting beauty, it will be the next pivotal destination in the coming days. To him it’s so eye-catching and hypnotizing that very soon, he believes, it will be the bucket list of visiting like Khumbu Regions (Mt. Everest), and Annapurna.

He thinks most of the Europeans are running after money. He is surprised by the Nepali people’s way of tackling the challenges. However tough the problem may be, they tackle patiently and calmly. He memorized the scene when he saw a group of women singing and walking while carrying heavy loads on their heads. “Nepali is always cheerful despite their poverty and hardship in life,” he added, “money is not the only means to make someone happy.”

To the visitors like him, Nepal has witnessed a lot of development in tourism esp. in mountaineering i.e. earlier the climbers had to fix the rope themselves but now it is fixed in the mountains. He thinks its high time Nepal has to make the progress made in this sector public.

Hinting at the progress Nepal can make in this sector, he said, “Austria has 8 million people which brings about 30 million tourists every year. So, to bring more tourists Nepal should make affirmative changes in the industry public and explore new destinations like Rolwaling.” Josef Einwaller’s experience and his feedbacks can be milestones in making Visit Nepal 2020 a success as he believes such initiations, provided taken sincerely, might bring 3 to 5 million tourists.