“Nepal is a grounding place for this industry,” announced The North Face’s Ann Krcik at the Outdoor Industry Association’s (OIA) annual breakfast at the Outdoor Retailer Show last week in Salt Lake City, Utah. Krcik chairs the Recreation Advisory Council board of the OIA and she introduced the breakfast’s keynote speakers — The North Face athlete Pete Athans and Norbu Tenzing of the American Himalayan Foundation.
Nepal has been on everyone in the industry’s mind since the April 2015 earthquakes shook the mountains around Kathmandu and disrupted tourism to the region on top of ruining villages and lives. “Climbers go to Nepal for the peaks,” said Athans, who has summited Everest seven times, “but they go back for the people.”
Norbu Tenzing, son of Sir Edmund Hillary’s famous sherpa partner Tenzing Norgay, mentioned how short-term needs in the country were met directly after the quakes, but long-term recovery will rely on a “business-as-usual” climbing season and a dedication to rebuilding the tourism industry in Nepal. “Just don’t stop promoting the brand of Nepal,” said Tenzing to a packed room of over 1,000 outdoor industry representatives.
“Come back to Nepal” was the theme of the breakfast, echoing “Now is the Time to Visit Nepal,” which is the tagline to the ATTA’s October AdventureWeek Rebound Nepal program. ATTA President Shannon Stowell and VP Jason Reckers stood outside the breakfast hall and passed out postcards with information about both the AdventureWeek Rebound program and ATTA members who are running trips to Nepal.
The ATTA is honored to have polar explorer Eric Larsen join AdventureWeek Rebound Nepal. In 2009 and 2010 Larsen stood on the North Pole, the South Pole and the summit of Everest — all three within a calendar year. His mission is to save the coldest places on the planet. One of his major sponsors is DeLorme, whose InReach technology allows people to follow along at home as Larsen explores inhospitable places.
On Wednesday, August 5, visitors to Larsen’s website would have seen his position in downtown Salt Lake City, where he was attending the ATTA’s AdventureConnect event hosted at DeLorme’s Outdoor Retailer Show booth. Together with Shannon Stowell, Larsen talked about the importance of visiting Nepal this fall to show that visitors are both welcome and needed.
The AdventureConnect event at the Outdoor Retailer Show brought together key ATTA members representing both the outdoor industry and the adventure travel crowd. DeLorme provided the space (and the beer), while prizes were donated by ExOfficio, Goal Zero, DeLorme and National Geographic Books. Larsen drew the winning names ever so slowly out of a dog bowl (donated by Ruffwear) as agonizingly as skiing across a melting Arctic towing 350 pounds of gear. Larsen holds the record for going the longest on one pair of ExOfficio underwear; a distinction he earned during his 55-day man-powered journey to the North Pole last year. ExOfficio donated several pairs of their Give-n-Go sport mesh underwear for the AdventureConnect in addition to selling over 500 pairs at their booth as a fundraiser for AdventureWeek Rebound Nepal, so maybe he will have some challengers.
Underwear jokes aside, the AdventureConnect was dedicated to bringing gear and travel industry people together to support Nepal and not a day of the OR Show went by this year without a mention of the importance of continuing to go there, climb there, do business there, get inspired there. “If you can’t get to Nepal in the next year, go there in your mind,” said Pete Athans in his keynote, “Go there in your heart.”