Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Himalayan Outdoor Festival – A beginning

Last weekend saw the opening of the inaugural Himalayan Outdoor Festival, the festival is the brain child of some very inspired outdoor types who wanted to bring all kinds of outdoor sports together under the pine needle roof of Hattiban. The festival held over three days was a big success and those of you who missed it should pen it in your calendar for next year! This event is going to get bigger and bigger and is exactly the injection that outdoor and adventure sports in Nepal needs to kick things up a few notches.

Friday 11am not much was going on up at Hattiban, but as the skies opened with rain, hordes of volunteers and event organizers descended from no-where and battled the heavy winds to transform the pine forest and Hattiban Resort into an outdoor sports paradise.

Up hill race winners
One of the first events of the festival was the Uphill Mountain Bike Challenge powered by Marmot. Races lined up at the bottom of the hill and awaited dusk; this race was perhaps the first of its kind in Nepal. 20 or so riders battled out the steep, bumpy climb from the road to the resort in the dark, most of them without lights! Cheering crowds got the festival into the spirit of things. Naryan Gopal won the race, but we also need to plug our own Aayman Tamang who normally is about ten minutes off  Naryan’s pace, he came second just 1 minute behind him! Super improvement this year from Aayman, we think he’s almost ready to take the top step of the podium!
At the climbing wall

An overnight windstorm and rain almost flattened the venue, but did not damper the spirit of the event. The day kicked off with the Hattiban Super Challenge MTB Race, powered by Himalayan Single Track held over a 2.5km track which slipped and slid its way around the pine trees. 10 and 5 k trail running was also held on this day. Runners and riders finishing at the same time added to the spectator enjoyment. It was also nice to see women participating in both events, though most where foreigners…come on Nepalese girls where are you all….? The time is now for you girls to get into the sports like mountain biking and running and there are plenty of people ready to support you. 

A tight XC Course
In the afternoon was the Downhill Super “D”, the team from Chain and Epic pulled out all stops to make a brilliantly fast and challenging short course which the riders ripped up! It was good also to see some new faces in the downhill line up and the fast and furious pace was much appreciated by the hordes of spectators who turned up to watch the boys on big bouncy bikes!

The best thing about the festival was the sports converging on each other, climbers, runners, XC riders, down hill riders all had the chance to mingle and understand other disciplines and even better was the chance after all the huffing, puffing, running and racing was over, there was a huge party with live music and food so everyone could relax, mingle and tell their tails of triumph or woe or just plain old fun. This kind of community building is essential for the long term stability of all sports in a developing country like Nepal and it was a very brave step to take by the event organizers….and one we LOVED!
Taking a flyer in the Super D

It was super fun and many lessons were learned about how this event can go bigger, badder and better in 2013 and we hope that more people will attend, support and sponsor such a great event. May long live adventure sports in Nepal! And a huge thank you to everyone involved.

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