An Oral History of Langtang Valley
October 17, 2015 8:45 PM   Subscribe

An Oral History of Langtang, the Valley Destroyed by the Nepal Earthquake "You've seen the images from Everest Base Camp and Kathmandu, but one village was hit so hard that it ceased to exist altogether. Half the population was buried. The others had to find a way out. This is their story. "
posted by primalux (5 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I probably should have added a warning in the post but this is a difficult read and there are some fairly graphic descriptions of injuries and bodies.
posted by primalux at 8:55 PM on October 17, 2015

Thanks for this. I'd been thinking about Langtang.

Right after the quake I was following a lot of the events in Nepal and elsewhere via the NorthmenPK twitter account, which is usually just mountaineering stuff but became a hub for people asking about status of loved ones, people tweeting in reports of who they'd seen, last locations, and general area information. It was the first place I saw Langtang specifically mentioned and how bad it was.

It was weird watching the days go by and seeing how little was being done. And a lot of it ended up being people on the ground organizing because the army wasn't getting anything to them. At one point a couple of groups of climbers had done all they could in surrounding valleys where they'd been trekking so they linked up via NorthmenPK and decided to walk to Langtang with the supplies and medical experience that they had. Can't find the page now but all in all I was fairly proud of the climbing community.

From what I was reading at the time it sounded like the foreigners being there brought in a lot of the resources to get them out--primarily because a number of them had sat phones, or could access twitter, or had insurance they could call (as mentioned in the article). I don't know if the outside pressure helped at all in terms of getting government helicopters there. But of course, resources sent there for foreigners preferentially focused on foreigners. I was glad to read that the Israelis' insurance allowed them to fudge things a little to evacuate more people.

Still wondering what's going to happen with Langtang now.
posted by nogoodverybad at 10:51 PM on October 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you would like to donate to Mercy Corps’ Nepal Earthquake fund please click here.

If you would like to donate to UNICEF’s Nepal Earthquake fund please click here.
posted by blueberry at 11:17 PM on October 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

I just got to the middle, and holy SHIT some of the western trekkers are bizarrely self-centered. I mean, look at these quotes:

"We bought ingredients from the locals because they weren’t willing to cooperate a lot, so we just had to bribe them to get food, pots, blankets, pillows."

Can't imagine why people who had just lost nearly everything weren't interested in giving you their few remaining goods free. It's not 'bribing', it's paying for stuff.

"But then tourists started getting blankets and food from the houses. To the villagers, it was like we were taking their stuff without asking, though we paid them money for the value of the goods"

That's because you were taking them without permission! Paying what *you* think they are worth is not the same as actually making an agreement to buy something.

I can certainly understand why faced with cold nights and trapped in the valley, people might steal to try to stay alive. But it's still stealing, and you may very well be stealing people's stuff that *they* needed to stay alive. And at least admit you were stealing, don't try to present your victims as the baddies.
posted by tavella at 12:57 AM on October 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

Yeah, a lot of the trekkers in that article pissed me off.

The Langtang Valley has been haunting me since the earthquake. There was a great article published in Geoenvironmental Disasters last February titled "Disaster risk reduction knowledge of local people in Nepal" (open access). The article stated:
A high number of human casualties and loss of public and private property in Nepal due to natural disasters may be attributed to inadequate public awareness, lack of disaster preparedness, weak governance, lack of coordination among the concerned government agencies,inadequate financial resources, and inadequate technical knowledge for mitigating the natural disasters.
The study evaluated how much local people knew about "disaster risk reduction" in various complexities, including response to disaster, and ended with how much work was left to be done - especially in landslide awareness (IIRC Nepal ranks #1 for landslide deaths). Since the earthquake, and particularly the news about the Langtang valley emerged, I've been thinking about the scientists who authored that study, how frustrating it must be for them as well as gut wrenching, to know about the work that needs to be done, to be trying to follow through, and then. . . yeah. I've been thinking about them a lot.
posted by barchan at 9:13 AM on October 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

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