‘Slowly the craze will come’: the off-piste plan to get Nepal skiing

first_img … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Facebook South and Central Asia “Geography holds us back. Apart from Kuri, the snowy places are far from Kathmandu. They are out of reach and expensive to get to. If they were easily accessible, Nepalese people would not hesitate to go skiing,” says Anil Upreti, another member of the foundation.Local and central government have shown little interest in supporting the development of skiing, says Pathak. “To be honest, the authorities have not been so helpful. We have asked them for funds, but it takes so long, the season finishes before anything is agreed.”Deepak Joshi, head of the Nepal Tourism Board, says the potential for skiing in Nepal is huge. Nonetheless, he cannot point to any examples where his organisation has supported the sport’s growth. “It is a totally untapped and unexplored area, but once some activities have started we will be very happy to promote them,” he says.Shrestha, for one, remains optimistic. “Skiing is a new idea in Nepal. But it will become a popular place to ski. Slowly the ski craze will come. For sure.” Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Destroy ‘period huts’ or forget state support: Nepal moves to end practice Along the single icy road leading through the village of Kuri, high in the hills of eastern Nepal, tourists stop to stare at a pair of skis. “Is it a skateboard?” asks one. “Maybe they are ice skates,” suggests another. “No idea,” they agree, before walking off gingerly along the slippery track.Nepal may have the highest mountains in the world, but you are about as likely to see a skier here as you are a yeti. Nepal sent no athletes to the Winter Olympics last year, and there is not a single ski resort in the country.All that is set to change, if a group of young Nepalese entrepreneurs get their way. Shacked up in a tiny hotel in the village, members of the Ski and Snowboarding Foundation Nepal are on a mission to build the country’s first ski resort in Kuri.“We are starting with one slope but we want to build a ski resort, with a gondola from Europe and a snow machine,” says Utsav Pathak, 24, the foundation’s president.They have a long way to go. All that exists at present is a gentle 50-metre slope and a stunning view. This year the foundation built Nepal’s first ski lift, a homemade contraption consisting of a generator and a collection of wheels and levers, but it stands unused at the top of the slope. “It stopped working because it was too cold,” says Pathak.At the top of a slope, a group of beginners gather nervously. “It’s all about balance,” shouts the instructor. “Balance is my worst quality,” replies one woman as she slides away unsteadily down the slope before collapsing in a heap.Pathak and his team are undeterred by the challenges. In the past three years, they claim to have given a thousand Nepalis a taste of skiing. The second national ski and snowboard championships was held this month and an embryonic ski touring and heli-ski industry has emerged.Pathak has chosen a good spot to launch his ski venture. Kuri, in the rural municipality of Kalinchowk, can be reached in a day from the capital, Kathmandu. “People think skiing is time consuming and very expensive, but in Kuri they can come to ski quickly and cheaply,” says local hotelier, Bijay Shrestha.Kuri is already a popular tourist destination. On a ridge high above the village sits a revered temple, which attracts thousands of worshippers each weekend. Three months ago, a cable car was built to ferry pilgrims to the top, boosting tourist numbers further.Others come to get a rare taste of snow and have fun. In the evenings, they gather around campfires – there is no indoor heating – to drink and dance to unrelenting Nepalese pop songs. “We are here to enjoy,” shouts one tipsy visitor as he heads off, struggling to stay upright on an icy path. Global development Nepal Share on Messenger Share on Pinterest Reuse this content Nepal holidays Share on WhatsApp Snowboarding But few tourists have come to ski. An hour on the slope costs £10, which visitor Hemant Budhatoki thinks is too expensive. “We can’t do it because of our economic condition,” he says. Jhuma Thapa, who works in one of the local hotels, has never skied. “I’m too afraid,” he explains.Another hotel worker, Ram Kumar Khadka, walks past the ski lift but has no idea what it is. “I’m not interested in skiing,” he says.Lack of interest is not the only problem facing Pathak and his team. The only way to reach Kuri is up a treacherous 20km mountain track, which in winter has to be navigated by four-wheel drive jeeps that slip and slide their way to the top. The roadside is dotted with abandoned vehicles that have got stuck in the slush and mud.The number of hotels in the village has soared in the past two years, but the only source of water is a small stream, so locals have turned to melting snow or ferrying water up from the valley in trucks that inevitably get stuck en route.The service culture has not kept up with the building. “Some people who run the hotels are not so interested in hospitality because they know that whatever they do, people will come to visit the temple,” says Pathak.The visitors are almost exclusively Nepalese. A rare group of Chinese tourists give the place a mixed review. “It’s cool. It’s awesome … but if you want to attract more foreign tourists you need to improve the road and provide wifi,” says one, who goes by the name Giovanni.The challenges of establishing a ski resort in Kuri are repeated across the country: inaccessible snow, poor infrastructure and a lack of government support. Skiing Pinterest Asia features Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Passage to the Nepalese village of Kuri, overlooked by the peaks of Gaurishankar, involves negotiating a hazardous mountain track. Photograph: Pete Pattisson Twitter Since you’re here… Topics Support The Guardian Read morelast_img read more

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Gavin DeGraw Helps Launch Musicians On Call In Denver

first_imgOn Friday August 14th, Musicians on Call, a groundbreaking nonprofit organization that delivers the healing power of music through their unique bedside performances in hospitals across the country, launched their first program in Denver, CO with the help of longtime MOC supporter Gavin DeGraw.The program kicked off with a Virtual Bedside Performance at the Children’s Hospital Colorado, in collaboration with Seacrest Studios, where DeGraw performed several songs in the studio that was broadcast to the patients throughout the hospital via closed circuit TV.Not only does the Denver program mark the sixteenth city that Musicians On Call has expanded to but August marks the charity’s sixteenth year of spreading the healing power of music. DeGraw, who is currently on the “Rock This Country Tour” opening for Shania Twain, has been a longtime volunteer and supporter of MOC and has done two bedside performances at hospitals in New York City and Los Angeles so was the perfect choice to help the organization with this momentous occasion.“It’s an honor to be a part of this special launch in Denver for Musicians On Call,” said Gavin DeGraw. “Meeting the kids was such a fulfilling experience and something I’ll remember for a long time.”“We are so grateful for Gavin and everything that he has done and continues to do for Musicians On Call,” said Pete Griffin, Musicians On Call President. “This was a really special performance and the perfect artist to help us launch our sixteenth program on our organization’s sixteenth birthday!”
Musicians On Call (MOC) was founded in 1999 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC by Michael Solomon and Vivek Tiwary, with the mission of bringing live and recorded music to the bedsides of patients in healthcare facilities ranging from children’s hospitals to adult facilities, VA hospitals and hospices. To date, its volunteers have played for nearly half a million people in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Baltimore, with additional cities being continuously added. Musicians On Call continues its mission through room-to-room hospital performances by both local musicians and an esteemed list of national celebrities. MOC supporters over the years include Pharrell Williams, Bruce Springsteen, Ed Sheeran, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Jessie J, Justin Timberlake and Imagine Dragons.last_img read more

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Seahawks DE Michael Bennett 4 Others Say They Wont

Michael Bennett in a selfie with his family. Image via Instagram.Israel suffered a major public relations blow after five of 11 NFL players scheduled to visit the nation as goodwill ambassadors decided to pass on the trip.Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett laid out his issues with the trip in an Instagram post on Feb. 10. The two-time Pro Bowl selection and Super Bowl champion said he refused to be used as a political pawn by the Israeli government. He also expressed support for Palestine.“I was not aware that my itinerary was being constructed by the Israeli government for the purposes of making me, in the words of a government official, an ‘influencer and opinion-former’ who would then be ‘an ambassador of goodwill,’” he wrote.“I will not be used in such a manner,” Bennett added. “When I do go to Israel — and I do plan to go — it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza, so I can see how the Palestinians, who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives. I want to be a voice for the voiceless and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel.”Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril, Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills, 49ers running back Carlos Hyde and Broncos running back Justin Forsett followed suit and decided to skip the trip.Leading up to the seven-day, all-expenses paid goodwill tour, the Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and other Israeli officials told media they hoped the players’ presence in the sole Jewish state would curb “negative and false characterizations of Israel.” read more

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Navy man Richard Sepolio charged in fatal bridge accident testifies he wasnt

first_img Monday, January 29, 2019 L to R: Judge Charles Rogers, Richard Sepolio Show Caption Hide Caption KUSI Newsroom, Posted: January 29, 2019 Show Caption Hide Caption SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A Navy petty officer testified Tuesday that he wasn’t drunk or speeding when he lost control of his pickup truck on a transition ramp to the San Diego-Coronado Bridge and crashed into Chicano Park below, killing four people.Richard Sepolio, 27, is charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI and reckless driving in the Oct. 15, 2016, deaths of Annamarie Contreras, 50, and Cruz Contreras, 52, a married couple from Chandler, Arizona, and Hacienda Heights residents Andre Banks, 49, and Francine Jiminez, 46. Seven other people were seriously injured.Sepolio testified that he was driving on the transition ramp — a route back to Coronado that he had driven more than 90 times before — when he sped up to merge in front of another car and lost control.Sepolio said he remembered being on top of a freeway barrier looking down, then waking up in the park and being pulled out of his truck.The defendant denied arguing with his then-girlfriend on the phone just before the crash.Sepolio said his memory was mostly “cloudy” about what happened after his truck plunged into the crowd below.He said an officer had him blow into a breathalyzer three times and told him two of the readings were .05 and .06 percent.The officer said “You’re not drunk,” Sepolio told defense attorney Paul Pfingst.On cross-examination, Sepolio admitted that he just come from a lunch with a female Navy colleague where “the idea was to go out and have a good time.”Sepolio testified that he had a glass of alcoholic cider and a glass of wine at lunch before heading back to Coronado.He told Deputy District Attorney Cally Bright that he didn’t remember a lot of what officers asked him at the hospital.In her opening statement, Bright told jurors that Sepolio was traveling more than 80 mph on the transition ramp from northbound Interstate 5 to the bridge about 3:30 p.m. when he lost control of his truck, which plummeted into the park where hundreds of people were enjoying a rally for motorcycle riders.One of the first responders smelled alcohol on the defendant’s breath, the prosecutor said.Based on a blood draw done at the hospital, an expert estimated Sepolio’s blood-alcohol level at between .08 and .09 percent at the time of the crash, Bright told the jury.Pfingst told the jury that Sepolio, an aviation electrician who works on helicopters at North Island Naval Air Station, passed two blood tests and two breathalyzer tests administered to him by law enforcement.Pfingst said Sepolio lost consciousness and suffered bruised lungs in the crash but refused pain medication so he could tell officers what happened.Sepolio faces at least 23 years and eight months in prison if convicted of all charges.Closing arguments are scheduled Wednesday. January 29, 2019 Categories: Local San Diego News, Traffic & Accidents FacebookTwitter Monday, January 29, 2019 L to R: Richard Sepolio, Paul Pfingst, Judge Charles Rogers, Officer Alvarez. Navy man, Richard Sepolio, charged in fatal bridge accident testifies he wasn’t driving drunk Show Caption Hide Caption Show Caption Hide Caption Monday, January 29, 2019 L to R: Cally Bright, Judge Charles Rogers, Richard Sepolio. Monday, January 29, 2019 L to R: Richard Sepolio, Paul Pfingst, Judge Charles Rogers, Officer Alvarez. Monday, January 29, 2019 L to R: Richard Sepolio, Paul Pfingst, Judge Charles Rogers, Officer Alvarez. KUSI Newsroom Monday, January 29, 2019 L to R: Judge Charles Rogers, Richard Sepolio Show Caption Hide Caption Updated: 3:37 PM 123 Monday, January 29, 2019 L to R: Richard Sepolio, Paul Pfingst, Judge Charles Rogers, Officer Alvarez.last_img read more

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