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How to help Nepal with donations and outdoor gear

Sherpa Adventure Gear, Columbia, Black Diamond, Keen, REI, and others in the outdoor industry are rallying donations to help recovery efforts in Nepal

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With rescue operations winding down in Nepal after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed an estimated 5,000 people, including climbers on Mount Everest, now the long road to recovery begins.

Numerous outdoor brands have tight connections to the area, working closely with the local population on countless mountain expeditions that have inspired today’s outdoor gear and adventurers.

Sherpa Adventure Gear Founder and CEO Tashi Sherpa is in Nepal, where the company makes more than 85 percent of its products.

“Today is the fourth day (April 28) and it is apparent the situation on the ground level is dire and desperately worse than what the media can convey,” he said. “Sitting here in the Sherpa building creates a disconnect and a false sense of security but one only has to go half a mile to know the harsh reality.”

Tashi said the biggest immediate needs are clean water, sanitation and shelter.

“Water purification tablets or pens … simple basic tents — as many as possible right now — anything to provide shelter for hundreds of thousands rendered homeless.”

Sherpa Adventure Gear has set up a “Help Sherpas Help Nepal” relief fund, pledging to put 100 percent of the proceeds toward the recovery of the country’s remote villages. It’s moved past its initial goal of $30,000 in one day and plans to raise the mark to $75,000.

“The village people are in desperate need of help now and later,” Tashi said. ‘The devastation in many areas is so complete that it will take years and years to recover and rebuild.”

Other outdoor brands are quickly moving to help raise money for the recovery efforts as well.

Columbia Sportswear Co., parent to its namesake, Mountain Hardwear, Prana, Montrail and Sorel brands said it will donate $50,000 to several non-profit organizations including Mercy Corps, OXFAM and UNICEF to help with earthquake relief efforts.

“Mountain Hardwear distributor based in Kathmandu, Jamling Norgay, reported that his family and staff are safe, while the area remains in a state of shock,” officials said.

“Our hearts and prayers are with the Nepalese people and everyone impacted by this tragedy,” said Tim Boyle, Columbia Sportswear Company CEO. “As a member of the global community and a company with strong ties to Nepal, we see it as our responsibility to help the Nepalese people by responding to this crisis.”

In addition to the cash donation, Columbia officials said they are committed to making product donations to relevant relief providers as soon as the situation on the ground allows. The company also committed to matching all employee donations earmarked for the Nepal relief effort without limit. Mountain Hardwear will work with on-the-ground relief agencies to provide product donations of tents, sleeping bags and protective clothing as conditions on the ground allow.

Mountain Hardwear is also reaching out to dealers and consumers seeking donations directly to the American Himalayan Foundation, which has set up a fund for earthquake relief. Black Diamond also made a pitch to its customers to donate to the American Himalayan Foundation.

Keen Footwear put out the call for donations to Mercy Corps’ Nepal Earthquake Response Fund, adding that it will match every dollar raised through the Keen Mercy Corps donation page up to $10,000 – with a total goal of raising $20,000. And REI officials announced an initial $50,000 donation to Mercy Corps to aid relief.

In the days and weeks to come, expect more response from the outdoor industry.

The Outdoor Industry Association and the Adventure Travel Trade Association recently announced they have joined together to research how the two groups can best help the long-term rebuild of Nepal’s tourism and guiding infrastructure as they awaken from the devastation.

–SNEWS Editors