25-31 July 2014 #717
Nepali steps in Norway
Nima Nuru Sherpa (pic,below) guides the Ecureuil helicopter perilously close to the side of the mountain. With hand gestures to the pilot, he gets it to gingerly lower the cargo dangling from a rope to exactly where he wants it.
Nima Nuru could very well be on a helicopter rescue in the Himalaya in Nepal, but he is not. This summer he is with three other nepalis building new stone steps along a hiking trail to the top of Gaustadtoppen (1,883m), a three hour drive west of Oslo.
The helicopter places the slab exactly where Nima Nuru wants it, then peels off diving down the slope to pick up another stone. Several hours later, there are enough slabs to keep Nima Nuru and his team busy for a couple of weeks on the trail.
The Sherpa team has been contracted by Tinn and Vinje municipalities each summer for the last four years to improve trekking trails, including the one at Gaustadtoppen. Nima is the group’s veteran, this is his sixth summer in Norway. Some of the Nepalis work on Himalayan expeditions, and this off-season work in Norway supplements their income. This is the second season for Dorjee and Bhala, the first for Purna.They all come from Khunde village in Khumbu, situated at 3,840 m.
For several years, Nepalis, including Nima, have been brought to Norway by a company run by Geirr Vetti. This summer, there are 29 Nepalis from Khumbu working in different parts of Norway staying sometimes for up to five months. Vetti first employed Nepalis to restore old stone houses, and has since branched out to repairing hiking trails including the one at the spectacular Prekestolen (Preacher’s Chair) near Stavanger on the south-west coast.
The Nepalis are needed because there are hardly any Norwegians who have the traditional expertise of moving and laying big stone slabs by hand. Maybe the Nepalis will help revitalise this tradition on Gaustadtoppen and other sites in Norway.