Making a Difference

P1020543As we prepare to turn the page on yet another year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on what a wild ride 2015 turned out to be.  It certainly didn’t go as scripted, but rarely do the truly memorable events in life.  From the trek to Everest base camp, the proposal, the devastating earthquake and avalanche, the hasty end to a climbing season and hastier retreat home… to the wedding, the new house, the wedding celebration party, and the imminent arrival of baby McKinley, it was a year of many ups complemented by a few downs (it’s important for the universe to remain in balance, after all, as demonstrated to us all by the seven and counting Star Wars movies)…

dzi logoI feel extraordinarily grateful for all of the experiences that added up to an especially memorable year that was.  And, with Nepal playing such a central role in my life of late, with three major Himalayan climbing expeditions there in the past four years, I am also very thankful for all of the help and support many of you have provided to the people of Nepal in their time of need.  For those of you that generously donated, please know that your donations have had a lasting impact on the people of Nepal and will continue to benefit them for years to come, but don’t simply take my word for it.  Please read the Bloomberg article in the link below about the lasting impact the dZi Foundation, which is where your donations have been directed, is having in Nepal.

www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-nepal-dzi-foundation/

For anyone looking to make a final donation in tax year 2015, please consider the dZi Foundation and their focus on sustainable solutions for some of the most destitute and isolated communities on earth.

www.tinyurl.com/Nepal-JLW

Finally, we opted to skip sending out Christmas cards this year (as I’m sure many of you were already sick of hearing from us) and decided to wait for the soon-to-follow baby announcements.  So, happiest of holiday wishes to you all, and, in closing, I simply want to wish you and yours a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.  May your best day in 2015 equal your worst in 2016.

Living Life in Fast-forward

Wedding-589Where to even begin?!?  Upon our hasty return home from Nepal, life forced us to shift gears quickly.  I had booked wedding arrangements in Jackson Hole for a July 1st ceremony well in advance of our departure to Nepal assuming that Carla would say “yes” when I asked her to marry me (which she did a week before the devastating earthquake struck Nepal).  We decided to stick with those plans and to have a small, family-only ceremony since there wasn’t enough time to expect friends to travel to such a distant location on very short notice.  We would then follow that up in August with a big reception-like party in Denver.  So, that’s what we did.  However, as if that wasn’t enough to keep us busy, we knew that we wanted to start a family together as soon as possible given that my thirties were simply a memory and Carla was preparing to join me and begin her fourth decade soon thereafter.

IMG_3164With thoughts of a new, burgeoning Walkley clan on the horizon, we set out to find our “forever home” where we could raise a happy family together.  With a lot of good fortune and fortuitous timing, very early on we stumbled across our dream home in the perfect neighborhood surrounded by nice neighbors and great friends.  Circumstances somehow conspired in many different ways for us to “win” the house despite ours being only one of five offers made on the house in the three days that it was listed, with at least a couple of them being cash offers.

Unbelievably, an interested party made a cash offer for my loft (which had only been listed four days at that point) the very same day that we saw our dream house, which allowed us to remove our contingencies, roll the dice a bit, and make a highly competitive offer.  Carla, being the beautiful and bold Brazilian that she is, decided that we should personalize our offer further, so we also hand-delivered flowers to the then-current owners of the house along with a personal note describing our recent adventures in Nepal and how much we loved the house and that we envisioned raising a family there… a competitive bid, resembling a cash offer, and a very personal plea added up to us buying our new home and we have been happily settling-in ever since.

CarlaandJimArtisanEdit015A very short seventeen days after our wedding in Jackson Hole, we packed all of our things and moved into our new home.  Only a month later, we had 120 of our closest friends and family to our reception/celebration party while hosting 60+ of our out-of-town guests at the new house the night before.  I’ve always said there’s nothing like deadlines to help get something completed.  With many late nights spent unpacking boxes, working on projects, painting, etc., the house was “ready” in time for our guests to help us celebrate the wedding, the move, the next chapter…

CarlaandJim254It was an exceptional weekend.  Our sincerest thank you to all who came to help us celebrate from far and near.  We had guests come all the way from Brazil, Germany, Norway and Panama as well as from all corners of the United States.  It was very humbling and such a special evening that we were lucky enough to spend surrounded by all those we hold most dear.  It was all of you that made the evening so special for us and unforgettable in all ways.  Thank you for coming.  Thank you for helping us celebrate in such spirited fashion.  Thank you for the many beautiful toasts.  Thank you for dancing like no one was watching.  Thank you for indulging my bride’s request for my brief stint on stage.

CarlaandJimArtisanEdit055And, thank you for your generosity.  In lieu of wedding gifts we asked that people donate to help the people of Nepal as they struggle mightily to get back on their feet.  We have raised just over $7,000 thus far, which goes a very long way in a country as devastated and destitute as Nepal, which prior to the earthquake was already the 2nd poorest country in Asia (only ahead of Afghanistan) where the per capita GDP is $500 per year!  This money is currently going toward constructing earthquake-proof schools in the Solokhumbu region via the dZi Foundation, so thank you for all of your help.  You can track donations and the progress the dZi Foundation is making via this link:

www.tinyurl.com/Nepal-JLW

FullSizeRender(1)And, as if 2015 wasn’t already memorable enough, we are blessed to be expecting a baby girl, McKinley Elizabeth, in March 2016 (name selected by my beautiful wife, although I whole-heartedly support the fitting choice).  We are overjoyed and beyond excited for this next chapter.  McKinley’s arrival may put the brakes on any plans to return to Chomolungma (Everest) in the near future, however, I will never say never.  There remains some unfinished business there, but I think the mountain and I both could use some time-off to rest and recuperate… and, I don’t expect it’s going anywhere.  Therefore, it’s on to the noble adventure of parenthood.

P1020764So, to recap, thus far in 2015, Carla and I got engaged, trekked to Everest base camp, seemingly got married by Lama Geshe in the Nepalese village of Pangboche, survived a devastating earthquake and deadly avalanche, sold my loft, got married (officially) in the eyes of the state of Wyoming, bought a house, moved, had an incredible celebration surrounded by great friends, and created a life that will soon join us for the next series of adventures…  I think I need a nap.  I suppose I better do so now before the munchkin arrives…  The link below will take you to a bunch of photos from all of the fun had at the wedding and reception/celebration party:

http://tinyurl.com/walkley-favaro-wedding

Enjoy!  We certainly did.  And, as always, please just keep smilin’…

Photo Summary of Nepal 2015 Journey

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A rosefinch bidding us farewell at Everest base camp

Below, please find a link to a full photo album with captions/commentary throughout that will guide you through our up and down journey to and from Everest base camp this year.

www.tinyurl.com/nepal2015photos

We’re finally settling in after 2 weeks of being home and returning to a somewhat normal schedule.  We are glad to be home, however, our hearts continue to ache for those still digging out and piecing their lives back together in Nepal.  If so inclined, please donate to help all of those in need through this long-term recovery process.  My sincerest thank you to you for doing so and my utmost gratitude to those of you that have already given so generously.

www.tinyurl.com/Nepal-JLW

Nepal’s Suffering Compounded

P1020656As the suffering in Nepal seems to have no end after today’s 7.3 magnitude earthquake, I am extraordinarily proud of the great work my friends and climbing partners are doing to help the people of Nepal on their road to recovery.  Here is a terrific article written by my 17 year-old climbing partner, Matt Moniz, about his efforts in conjunction with super-twins, Willie & Damian Benegas, to help build a self-sustaining recovery in the hard-hit rural villages of the Manaslu region.

www.tinyurl.com/MattMonizNepal

Additionally, please consider donating to any of the great relief organizations doing work to help Nepal’s recovery.  My deepest gratitude to all of you that have already done so or plan to do so.  To make things as easy as possible, I’ve provided a link below to my fundraising page which supports many of the incredible organizations making a difference every day in this time of great need.

www.tinyurl.com/Nepal-JLW

Please Help Us Make a Difference – 5.9.2015

P1020652Although Carla and I have been home nearly a week, and are extraordinarily grateful to be home safely among friends and loved ones, our heavy hearts remain with all of those who were so severely impacted by the tragic earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25th.  Witnessing the destruction and devastation firsthand, even on such a limited basis, has left an indelible mark on our souls.  We both awaken in the middle of the night after dreaming of the devastation and/or wondering through the blur of wakefulness if the ground beneath our bed is shaking.  So, we can only imagine how our friends in Nepal feel as they lie awake at night in open fields, with empty bellies, under tarps (for the lucky ones), next to their homes that were shaken to the ground.

Therefore, we have decided that in lieu of gifts for our upcoming wedding, we are asking our friends and family to donate to the relief and recovery efforts that will be ongoing in Nepal for weeks, months and years to come.  After much research, I have put together a fundraising page to support a few of the organizations that I am most familiar with and that are doing amazing work to help the people of Nepal get back on their feet and restore their country to the beautiful, vibrant place we know and love.

http://www.globalgiving.org/fundraisers/nepal-earthquake-relief-2/

The GlobalGiving Earthquake Relief Fund, the default option on our fundraising page, is providing support (nearly $2.5MM thus far) to a broad range of NGOs active in Nepal focused on both immediate relief as well as long-term recovery.  Some of these organizations include:  International Medical Corps, Save The Children, International Disaster Volunteers, CARE Nepal, among many others.

Colorado-based dZi Foundation is focused on the hard-hit, remote villages where they work. In their words:  “all infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed. Aside from dZi, no other aid organizations work in these remote areas. We are focusing our funding on helping to rebuild these and the neighboring forgotten communities.”

Meanwhile, the American Himalayan Foundation is providing 100% of donations to its Earthquake Recovery Fund to those in need and “has been working in Nepal for 34 years, building deep relationships and responding to the priorities and concerns of the communities we work with. The strong partnerships we have developed over the years give us a foundation to build effective recovery projects upon, even in the most rural areas. And our long history and connection with the Himalaya further intensifies our commitment to helping the people of Nepal recover from this devastating tragedy.”

Please support our efforts and those of these great organizations to help the people in Nepal on their road to recovery.  And, thank you in advance for your gracious and generous donations.

Also, please note that currently an anonymous donor on GlobalGiving is matching monthly recurring gifts, which helps leverage your gifts further (while matching funds last and for recurring gifts that are 3-months or more in duration).

With sincere gratitude.

http://www.globalgiving.org/fundraisers/nepal-earthquake-relief-2/

Home – 5.3.2015

Carla and I made it home safely and just cleared customs after an uneventful trip that included the heli flight from base camp to Lukla, the crazy flight down from Lukla to Kathmandu, on to Bangkok and finally through Tokyo to Denver. It feels as though we’ve been traveling for days on end, which I suppose we have.

We’re extremely grateful to be home and for all of the love and support from friends, family, etc. It’s finally time to decompress a bit, let the events of the past few weeks sink-in, and begin again with fresh perspectives… but, first, it’s time to go pick-up our pup, Camden, for a proper welcome home!

Great article

This is a great article by acquaintance and long-time IMG guide, Mike Hamill. The video captured 3/4 the way down the article of the avalanche at base camp is indescribable if you haven’t seen it already.

So grateful even more weren’t injured or killed. Had the earthquake and subsequent avalanche happened even 24 hours previously, before many teams left for Camp I on an acclimatization rotation, and/or occurred at night when many more would have been in their tents, the casualties would have been exponentially higher.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/150428-everest-earthquake-base-camp-nepal-himalaya-climbing-sherpa/#

Lukla & Kathmandu – 5.1.2015

P1020857

Heli flight out of base camp

Carla and I made it to Kathmandu safely today after a late heli flight from base camp to Lukla last night.

We feel very fortunate and grateful to be here, although it’s surreal to be in the warm sunshine of Kathmandu and sitting in a nice, grassy garden writing this post. It’s quite the juxtaposition from the cold and devastation at base camp, let alone the destruction nearby in other parts of the city/country/region.

Big thank you to Willie for his leadership and tenacity in making it happen and Matt for his always upbeat demeanor. Hopefully, on to Bangkok tomorrow and home on May 3rd. More on ideas of how people can help those so devastated by these events in Nepal soon.

Heading for home… hopefully – 4.30.2015

BIG avalanche off of Everest’s West Shoulder just now. Fortunately, it kept a somewhat respectable distance from base camp as we pack everything up, and serves as a prompt that it may be finally time to head out of here. Planning to start our way to Kathmandu tomorrow and head for home over the next several days… Stay tuned.