Mazur has climbed or led climbing expeditions to Mount Everest, K2 and other famous peaks since the early 1990s. Based in Olympia, he organizes and leads Mount Everest ascents and works to further humanitarian efforts in Nepal, the 12th poorest country in the world. The average daily income there is $1.25 and the need for education, sanitation and health care are major concerns, he said.
Mazur’s first ascent of Mount Everest was in 1986. Twenty years later, he received international accolades for saving the life of climber Lincoln Hall, an Australian left for dead on the slopes of the mountain.
He was on Mount Everest April 25, 2015, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck. The quake triggered an avalanche that killed 21 people—the deadliest day in the mountain’s history. Hundreds of thousands of people became homeless when entire villages collapsed. Approximately 9,000 people died and 22,000 were injured across the country. The devastation was exacerbated by a second 7.3 magnitude quake that struck 17 days later, killing hundreds and injuring thousands more.
Mazur said there was far greater damage in the remote villages than the cities. Houses and schools are built from stacked stone because concrete and rebar to reinforce the buildings are prohibitively expensive.
“There are no roads; you've got to carry everything in,” he said. “A bag of cement in Kathmandu might cost a few bucks, but that same bag in a village that's a two-week trek away is $100.”
Mazur and his company, Summit Climb, are supporting reconstruction efforts with treks to affected areas to deliver large rolls of plastic building mesh used to reinforce new buildings. “All the building materials are there,” he said. “They're just lying on the ground.” Builders include a layer of rock-filled mesh every 3 vertical feet in the walls of new structures to provide lateral stability.
Reconstruction is being done in conjunction with efforts to clean up the mountains. “The busy season on Everest is April and May, and there's no restriction on visitors,” Mazur said. “Usually there's 1,000 people in base camp, including climbers and support.” This is when Sherpas make money for their families for a year by assisting climbers, getting supplies up the mountain and hauling trash and human waste back down in large plastic barrels.
The public is welcome to the free Longbranch Improvement Club event, though donations for the LIC community scholarship fund will also be welcomed. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the program will begin at 7 p.m. For more information, call 884-6022 or go to longbranchimprovementclub.org.
For more information on Mazur's work in Nepal, go to summitclimb.com.