Two Grand Valley men climb Nepal’s Mera Peak for a cause
WHAT: Mera Peak climb presentation
WHEN: Friday, Dec. 19, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Loki Outdoor Shop, 445 Colorado Ave., Grand Junction
Michael Aschmann and Marc Maurer, both Grand Valley residents, climbed more than 20,000 feet not only to conquer personal goals, but to also raise awareness and funds for a greater cause.
The adventure started in 2010, when Marc Maurer, founder of Beyond the Giant, a ministry outreach program, saw a need to help address two common issues in Nepal — orphans and victims of trafficking. Through Beyond the Giant, Maurer hoped to build a safe-house for young girls and women to begin their lives again.
“Their culture isn’t set up socially for these girls to have a safe fall-back system,” Maurer said. “There aren’t any social services of relief organizations available, so they end up in the parks homeless.”
To raise funds for the safe-house, Maurer traveled to Nepal to climb Mera Peak last year; but due to sever weather conditions dumping more than seven feet of snow before the team hit the summit, Maurer had to abandon the trip early. Funds raised from the first trek funded the home for the girls and women, which totaled around $11,000.
Another climb to summit Mera Peak, which took place this past October, also raised money to fund operations at the safe-house for the next few years. This time Maurer climbed it with Aschmann, a friend and member of the same church.
According to Maurer, there are currently five girls who are living in the safe-house, which provides a room to sleep, health care, food, clothing and education if they desire.
“It may be a small raft in a sea of needs,” he said, “but, if we can help one, then that’s what matters most to us.”
The house was built to create a family atmosphere where the women could comfortably live, Maurer added — they eat together, prepare food together in the kitchen, etc., and the home is made up of five rooms. It cost only $6,000 to build.
“Family is huge in that culture, and a lot of the girls didn’t have a family,” Aschmann explained.
Maurer added that the house is meant to provide a place of community to give the girls a sense of familiarity and safety.
“We are building that trust again,” Maurer said.
ABOUT THE CLIMB
Mera Peak at its highest is 21,247 feet and settled near Mount Everest in the Himalayas. It’s considered one of the highest trekking mountains in the world.
The elevation is also the funding goal for Beyond the Giant’s safe-house project this year — $21,247. Aschmann and Maurer have raised one-third of that goal since getting back from the 2014 trip, and they are still seeking for additional donations.
“It was an awesome experience,” Aschmann said.
The recent trek took 12 days total from the start at Lukla, Nepal, with a guide helping them up the mountain side.
Lukla is also home to one of the most dangerous airports due to its small landing strip and how it is situated on the mountain side, Maurer added.
Aschmann and Maurer encountered several small snow storms and avalanches during their trek to the summit, but nothing compared to Maurer’s solo climb. The team made it to the summit with little trouble and descended quickly due to threatening weather and avalanches.
“We got lucky with the weather,” Aschmann said. “We saw rescue helicopters every day rescuing people due to dehydration, altitude sickness or weather stopping them. It was a blessing the weather cleared and we were able to climb.”
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT
Loki Outdoor Shop — located at 445 Colorado Ave., in Grand Junction — will host a presentation about Maurer and Aschmann’s trek on Friday, Dec. 19, at 7:30 p.m.
“We like to have local adventurers come and share their adventures with others,” said Seth Anderson, owner of Loki Outdoor Shop. “We are highlighting what local people do, and I think that’s good.”
Loki was also a climb sponsor, providing jackets for the team’s expedition.
“It seemed like a natural fit to help these guys out and try out gear above 20,000 feet,” Anderson noted. “Plus, the fact they are helping people in Nepal is even better.”
To donate or find out more information, visit http://www.beyondthegiant.org.
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