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They move silently, carrying loads that equal their own weight on their backs. Their sunken but cheerful faces are those of people who know the effort and difficulty of living with few resources but nevertheless offer up a smile. They are the porters, otherwise known as sherpas, from the ethnic group from eastern Nepal that first began to transport supplies for expeditions in the high mountains. They are the other face of Himalayan mountaineering, the face that remains hidden behind the exploits of the mountaineers who celebrate in the newspapers and on social media when they reach the summit of one of the 14 eight-thousanders.

This generous and hospitable community that lives on the Pakistani and Nepalese slopes of the highest mountain range in the world has been undergoing a profound economic, humanitarian, and health crisis in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly reduced the number of expeditions, and the climate crisis has done the rest, drastically reducing these peoples’ income from agriculture and subsistence farming.

In 2019, a group of volunteers founded the Cuore Attivo Monte Rosa association with the objective of giving something back to an area that is crying out for help, by offering medical, educational, and environmental assistance. The members are alpine guides, physicians, and photographers who’ve had their most profound life experiences in these lands, gazing down on the immense expanses of ice that stretch as far as the eye can see. Among them are well-known names in international mountaineering, such as Michele Cucchi, who in 2014 participated in the expedition organized by the EvK2CNR committee to mark the 60th anniversary of the first ascent of K2, helping to train talented Pakistani mountaineers, who on that occasion reached the summit’s 8,611 meters.

The activities carried out by the volunteers in the Makalu and Arun valleys include the reconstruction of schools and infrastructure, setting up medical camps in remote areas, and school training to assure the local population a minimum level of education. Since 2017, Cuore Attivo Monte Rosa has contributed to the reconstruction of three schools and delivered more than 17 tons of food and 140 kilos of medical kits.
Significant numbers that accompany the training initiatives for local guides through which the association intends to lay the foundation for restarting the local economy, which is still struggling to take off.


Michele and the other volunteers are also raising awareness of the extreme living conditions faced by the inhabitants of the banks of the Arun River in Nepal and the Karakoram in Pakistan. The problems related to a lack of services and infrastructure and the poverty experienced by the local populations are reported in several documentaries that follow the activities carried out by the volunteers during the expeditions. The style used to recount this too-often-forgotten situation is direct and authentic but leaves room for a message of hope for the future: “doing a lot with a little” — this is the motto that guides Cuore Attivo Monte Rosa.
Cuore Attivo Monte Rosa is part of the Help the Mountains program, through which we donate 1% of our turnover to initiatives that promote the maintenance and development of the mountains. All this is possible thanks to your contribution as well!


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