The Mountaineer's Medical Post: Manang and the Community Fueling Change

@ KÜHL News By Kühl Editor

Altitude acclimation and community coordination

Rocky-ridged peaks pierce through the snow-covered canopy. Steep switchbacks slice through the mountain side, tempting the bravest to pass. Graceful yet deadly, the mountains silently remind the climbers that adventure is nothing without unrelenting resilience. Tied between teahouses, multicolored prayer flags signal to passing rebels, roamers and renegades that they have a home here.

This is Manang, a small village sitting at 11,545 ft (3,519 meters) above sea level. Situated just north of the Annapurna Range in the Himalayas, Manang serves as a resting place for those who are attempting the Throng La Pass (17,769 ft). Known as one of the “best long distances treks in the world,” the Annapurna Circuit throughout Nepal takes an average of 17 days and spans over 140 miles. Typically, the circuit is hiked in a counterclockwise direction to allow for a more gradual acclamation of altitude. This pattern places Manang as one of the last stops before the final and most treacherous leg of the journey.

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Manang village. Photo by: Highland Eco Trek

Despite the cold temperatures, Manangi people are known to be warm, friendly, and welcoming. With a population of 7,000, Manang is one of the biggest villages in this region and even has its own language. According to the Himalayan Rescue Association, around 75% of locals rely on tourism to make a living. It has become popular to stay a few nights here, rather than one, thanks to the Manangi’s hospitality. Adventure seekers can sleep over in a teahouse, watch a movie at the cinema and enjoy a traditional ghiu chai tea while getting acclimated to the elevation. Camaraderie between fellow mountain men is easily cultivated thanks to their shared sense of survival.

This pit stop serves the brave and the courageous. Journeying through the Himalayans is not for the faint of heart. Understanding that conditions can change rapidly and being in tune with one's health is crucial for survival. Anything from avalanche accidents to altitude sickness can occur, so self-reliance is just as important as community and camaraderie.

Dean Cardinale, a fiercely independent mountaineer was up for the ultimate challenge, summiting Mount Everest. On his way to base camp, Dean passed though Manang and formed deep connections within the town. Then the climb began. Along with his team and personal Sherpa guide, Ang Pasang Sherpa, Dean summited Everest. However, mountain conditions are still unpredictable even after reaching the top. Shortly after summiting, Ang Pasang Sherpa passed away in a sudden avalanche. This tragedy served as the catalyst to launch the Human Outreach Project (HOP) to help Ang’s surviving family and surrounding community.

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Manang nestled beneath the mountains. Photo by: Dey Alexander

Now a 501(c)(3) The Human Outreach Project’s mission is that “trekkers could – and should – give back to the communities in which they travel. With a particular focus on youth, HOP partners with communities to identify local needs and co-create sustainable solutions to improve health and education.” Fueled by passion for the welfare of the people and co-creation of healthcare solutions, Dean was ready to serve the community who supported him. Manang was the perfect place to start.

Along with helping Ang Pasang Sherpa’s children, restoring the local medical clinic was of utmost importance to HOP’s founder. A Nepalese non-profit, The Himalayan Rescue Association, founded a medical aid post in Manang to provide services for trekkers, rescuers, porters and the locals. Currently, the Manang Aid-Post, "is the only medical center in the upper regions of the popular Annapurna circuit and is instrumental in providing medical services and rescue assistance.”

The medical aid-post was erected in 1981 and received support in 1991 from the British Embassy. However, the harsh conditions and lack of funding lead to the deterioration of the building. Dean and his team began funding, rebuilding, and expanding the Medical Post in 2016.

Here at KÜHL® we have an understanding that to be fiercely independent you need a community to encourage you to keep climbing. When KÜHL®’s founder, a fellow outdoor enthusiast, Kevin Boyle learned about Manang’s community and the need for an expanded medical center, he jumped on board. Kevin and Dean became fast friends while skiing the powder in the Cottonwood canyons in Utah and remained in touch through the years. Naturally, when learning of a town in need, a partnership was established between HOP and KÜHL®.

The experience of living in the mountains forces you to understand that anything is possible and nothing is certain. Therefore, providing aid in such a remote region couldn’t be more important. KÜHL® strives to empower people to keep pursuing their passions.

After six years of construction and expansion, the medical clinic is restored and continues to grow thanks to KÜHL®’s support. New features such as medical living quarters and laboratories were added to help the influx of patients. In partnership with HOP, the Himalayan Rescue Association and the Nepalese Department of Tourism, the community and surrounding areas of Manang are provided with crucial medical services. Today, the medical post serves over “2,500 people per three month climbing season, 75% of whom are locals who have traveled to the area to make a living on tourism and have no support systems or medical care to fall back on.” KÜHL®’s donation ensures that medical care is accessible to the mountain-born locals and the dream-chasing climbers

KÜHL®’s attention to detail and passion for quality goes beyond our product. We are different by design. Whether you are receiving medical care in Manang or wearing our gear-we strive to give you freedom to focus on your passions. Born in the mountains, we enable everyone whether you are a hiker or skier to keep seeking adventure and relish in the cold smoke bliss.

Follow The Human Outreach Project to see their ongoing initiatives or donate directly.

Featured image by: Ben Tubby


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Kühl Editor