PC: Highlights Tourism, Nima Gyalzen Sherpa
“I will come back and work more,” says 72 years old Austrian Josef as he reclines in the garden lounge of the Shangrila Hotel in Kathmandu. Josef has visited Nepal at least fifty times and he is still interested to visit Nepal in the future.
Josef Einwaller does not look like a man who has attained the age of 72 years by now. He was about to return to his home country Austria after installing David Lama Biwak –a shelter- for the tourists at an altitude of 5800 meters in Tashi Lapcha pass in Dolkha district.
“I hope that the installation of the Biwak will contribute to the promotion of tourism in the Rolwling region and will also improve the living standard of the local people,” said Josef.
Josef also observes how the Khumbu region developed within a short time, while the Rolwaling region remains backward. The trekkers usually cross Dolkha’s Rolwaling region to reach the Khumbu region. In the earlier days, the locals as well the tourists used to use this pass to go to the Khumbu region and return.
However, later on, the Khumbu region-home to Mt. Everest -was connected with Kathmandu by the air route. Crossing the Tashi Lapcha to reach the Khumbu region was not free from the risk. Tourists used to go across this pass by camping at various places due to lack of tea houses which was not only expensive but also risky.
Now, several helpings hands are connected with this Biwak project after initiations were geared up under the coordination of famous mountaineer Phurba Sherpa and Josef. The Biwak has been installed to commemorate another famous late young mountaineer David Lama by naming this Biwak after his name.
Around one hundred thousand Euros have been spent on this project according to Josef. Transfer of the parts of Biwak to the place of its installation was more expensive than mere construction in Europe.
All spare parts of Biwak were transferred to the installation area by using helicopters after shipping them to Nepal through ships. The trekkers going towards the Khumbu region or returning from Khumbu can take shelter in this Biwak which is installed on rocks.
On the one side this Biwak will keep the safety of the tourists, and on the other side will decrease the expenses. Now, porters are available, but after some years they will not be found. So, this Biwak will be useful. Josef has already led various projects, and this is not the first project in Nepal. Josef has a luxury fashion business in Austria.
He had come to Nepal for the first time in 1988. He was a young man of hardly 40-49 years. To see mountains was his dream. Josef’s generation is the one who came to know about mountains in Nepal after reading the books written by Edmund Hillary who stepped his steps on Mt Everest for the first time and books written by Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner.
“Yes, I came to Nepal after reading about Mt Everest and I was romanticized by the sight of Himal here. It was at that time that I vowed to step on the peak of Mt Everest one day,” said, Josep. In 2012 he reached on top of Mt. Everest.
It was a big dream for a touring lad from Austria to scale the highest peak in the world. Since 1990, Joseph has been coming to Nepal frequently, either once a year or twice a year after getting attracted to the mountains of Nepal. He saves some amount of money from his business and comes to spend in Nepal.
The year 2006 was a turning point of Josep’s life which proved to be an unforgettable year for him. One accidental incident inspired him to work for Nepal by personally investing in it and by asking other friends to support in this project.
In 2006 what happened was that he was back in Nepal and Phurba Tenzing Sherpa was his guide. But, Phurba lost his life during an accident that occurred in the Himal. This incident invoked Josep to remark,” I have traveled to various places in the world. There are many friends of mine. But Phurba sacrificed his life for my sake. He died but saved my life. This moment of death of his guide tormented Josef for a long time. For him, Phurba was not only a guide but also a good friend. He also knew all about Phurba’s family situation.
After this incident, he prepared to construct a house for the Phurba family. Making a house for the family of Phurba further connected him to Nepal.
Meanwhile, he not only scaled the peak of Mt. Everest in 2012 but also climbed Mt. Choyo, Ama Dablam and China’s mountain Shishapangma, etc. His frequent visit to Nepal was going on when Nepal was hit by an earthquake of 2015 when he was reclining in the lounge of Hotel Shangrilla.
Thousands of people died. The loss was over millions and trillions. Once again Josef thought of extending support to Nepal. He appealed his friends in Australia and even gave an interview for Austrian television from Kathmandu and mentioned that urgent help was needed.
“We did what we could,’ says Josef. Two school buildings were constructed from the fund collected under his coordination after the earthquake. A health post was also constructed in the Rolwaling area of Dolkha. The health post was built to provide health facilities to the elderly people as young people keep moving and do not stay in the villages.
“But what to do, no medical persons stay at the health post. The government should at least make provisions for healthy persons to stay here,” says Josef.
It is not good to say that the health post we built is not providing any health services to the people. Rolwaling is the place that Josef has visited for the maximum time. So, he knows all about this place minutely. That’s why he invested in this region.
Now, he and Phurba are making Biwak (Shelter) in this region. “I have plans to make more Biwaks in other areas too,” says Josef. He was completely broken down once while making the Biwak. He was facing all troubles in the project as no one was ready to support him.
Later on, Gaurishanker Rural Municipality and National park permitted him to construct Biwak in the region. Nepal Bank Limited also assured him of supporting Rs 1.5 million to transfer the Biwak materials to the main site of installation by helicopter.
This support inspired and encouraged Josep to work with enthusiasm again. Josef’s team is planning to hand over the Biwak project to the local body. There are no physical changes in Josep despite his visit to Nepal for fifty times. Nepal has also undergone a lot of transitions.
“Nepal was endowed with natural beauty in the past. We can’t deny the fact that there has not been any development so far. Many parts of Nepal are still naturally beautiful,” says Josef.
He remembers that Kathmandu city did not have proper electricity facilities when he was here for the first time. Then there is no point talking about a place outside Kathmandu.
Josef firmly believes that Nepal is always safe for him, though many of his friends suggest that he should not loiter around all alone. He does not care much about their suggestions. He has never confronted any problems but has found many helping hands.
“Nepal is as safe as Europe for me,” adds Josef at the end.