The second half of Nepal went swimmingly (only once though, on the Modi Khola, in the dark). We paddled some amazing rivers around Pokhara: the upper Marsyangdi, the upper Madi, and the Modi. It’s hard to see these wild rivers tumble free from the Himalayas, only to be dammed a few miles later.
We culminated our five week trip with three days of racing on the Upper Seti at the 15th annual Himalayan Whitewater Challenge. Gerrit took 5th and I grabbed 3rd in our Downriver Race categories, and I finished 2nd in Ladies Boatercross. It was so gratifying to see paddlers from across Nepal, and across the world come together and paddle for a weekend, sharing stories and snacks alike.
What really struck me was the lack of Nepalese female paddlers, we did some research and found out that there are roughly five girls in all of Nepal that kayak, and only one that could take the time off work to paddle at the festival. Gerrit and I started brainstorming on how we could gather resources (gear, instructors, etc) from the states to bring to Nepal to specifically get more girls into the sport. By chance, there happened to be one of the five female paddlers in the bus seat next to us, and we set up a meeting with her and the Himalayan Adventure Girls. We hoped that in creating opportunities for more girls we could create a chain reaction, inspiring more and more Nepalese girls to try this amazing sport.
Here is our idea…
1. Whitewater Clinic (Mid November-Mid December 2019) the goal is to provide a free monthlong kayak training for Nepalese women to become river guides. Foreign women would come in to learn as well, creating cross cultural awareness and bonding. Gear and paddles donated from companies and individuals would be brought over to use for the clinic, and left in care of the Himalayan Adventure Girls. If any Nepalese girl decides to go through swiftwater training and gets her guiding certification she gets a free set of safe river gear to keep. Communicate with the local raft companies to create opportunities to hire girls.
2. USA Trip (June 2019) if there’s enough interest in the whitewater clinic… the goal is to get Nepalese girls to the states to paddle for a month. Different raft companies could each donate a trip to the girls, potentially creating connections to make it easier for the girls to get raft or kayak guiding jobs in the USA. Funds would be raised for their flights, food, transport, lodging. Gear would be loaned for the trip.
There are people already out there doing parts of this plan: a group from Sweden traveled to Nepal a decade ago, inspiring four of the current five females in Nepal to start kayaking. A Nepalese group wants to set up a Nepal-USA guide exchange. We want to try to use this idea to bring all the positive and motivated kayakers together to a common goal.
Let us know if you have any suggestions!