Machermo Valley used to be known as ‘death valley’ before the porter rescue shelter was built. After the snow had melted, Yak drivers would come across the bodies of porters from the middle hills, frozen to death and often wearing only fit flops on their feet.
In 2006 a shelter for 300 porters and rooms for visiting doctors was built, replacing a temporary porter rescue service operating from Namgyal Wangdi Sherpa’s lodge. The rescue shelter was erected at the instigation of Dr Jim Duff, founder of the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG), financed by IPPG, CAN, The Himalayan Trust UK and many individual donors.
Since the shelter, porters no longer have to risk bivouacs under the boulders during snowstorms, and the number of deaths in this region due to hypothermia has been reduced to nil. Numerous porters have been helped along the way by volunteer doctors under the direction of Dr Nick Mason of IPPG UK. Two doctors are in residence at the shelter in the spring and autumn trekking seasons.
As well as providing free shelter and medical help for numerous porters, foreign trekkers suffering from AMS and other altitude related conditions are also treated but have to pay consultation fees, which help to ensure the sustainability of the shelter, paying the salaries of the manager/caretakers, Mr Chhewang Sherpa and Mr Bal Bahadur Rai.
Machermo was damaged in the devastating Nepal earthquakes in 2015 but was subsequently repaired with the help of donations, including money raised from The Everest Marathon and donated by Diana Penny Sherpani of Bufo Ventures, a long-term CAN supporter. Although the foundations are good and most of the walls are in decent shape, reconstruction to withstand the inevitable future shocks is planned.