25-31 July 2014 #717

Nepali steps in Norway

Nepalis are building new stone steps along a hiking trail to the top of Gaustadtoppen in Norway.
Marit Bakke on Gaustadtoppen, 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.

Nima Nuru Sherpa guides the Ecuriel helicopter perilously close to the side of Gaustadtoppen (1,883m).
Marit Bakke

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.

Nima Nuru Sherpa selects stone slabs which are carried up the slope dangling at the end of a rope below a Ecuriel helicopter.
Marit Bakke

The Nepalis working just below the tower on the summit of Gaustadtoppen, make it look easy to move a stone slab weighing almost one ton.
Marit Bakke

Old steps (left), and new ones (right) repaired by the Nepali workers.
Marit Bakke

(From left: Purna Bahadur Magar, Dorjee Sherpa, Bhala Kaji Rai, Nima Nuru Sherpa.)
Marit Bakke

The cone-like summit of Gaustadtoppen at 1,883m which off ers a 360 degree view of the Norwegian countryside is a 3-hour drive from Oslo.
Marit Bakke

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