Why Active Hearts? – The Man with the Plan

“A Mish a Day” #228 (Part 1) The Man with a Plan. Nepal. 2015 to 2019 and beyond. I have always had three places that I must visit during my years above the dirt. Antarctica for its remoteness and ice clad mountains. Alaska for its vast expanses of untamed, mountainous land. Then finally Nepal, land of the mountain giants. Of the three incredible locations Nepal definitely had the strongest allure.

Stories of the great Sir Edmund Hillary and local legend Tenzing Norgay battling their way to the top of the world were told often to the people of both Nepal and New Zealand. Surrounded by the hierarchy of a country neither of them were from, two climbers from humble beginnings did what was once thought impossible. The inspiring work achieved by both men after climbing Sagarmatha / Mt Everest(8848m) helped bring education and medical help to remote parts of Nepal, usually away from the tourist trekking routes. Active Hearts Foundation’s equivalent of Sir Edmund Hillary shares many of the characteristics as the famous explorer. When I first moved to Queenstown to start on the Routeburn Track a while back, I didn’t know anyone who lived amongst the mountains in Queenstown. I stepped out of a bus from Christchurch to a closed Ultimate Hikes building. Luckily there was Kelly (a Milford Track veteran) who must have recognized me as a lost soon to be guide, and he showed me the way to the Routeburn Guide Flat. It was here that I had my first encounter with the ‘Dan Keys Show’. Large in size and enthusiasm, the fella knows how to entertain a crowd, both while guiding on the Routeburn or while tearing around the chaos that is Queenstown (the fella knows how to jam on a guitar!). Since first meeting Dan all those years ago a lot has changed. Nither of us still live at the Routeburn Guide Flat, and we have both gone on to have interesting lives guiding. However, over the years we have managed to keep in touch, even go on the odd mish together, and always have a catch up down on the sunny South Coast. On one of these trips to Aparima I kicked back, looking at the waves in the house-truck, and listened to many tales of adventure about Dan’s multiple trips to Nepal. After a few years guiding people to the biggest mountains on the planet, Dan’s love for the people of Nepal was so strong that he created the Active Hearts Foundation.

Departing Kathmandu on the first Active Hearts Foundation Charity Hike

Dan was in Kathmandu with a group of clients he was guiding when the ground started to shake. Being from Christchurch means I have experienced the unwanted excitement of earthquakes, and how much life can change in the aftermath. After the quakes in Christchurch, people from all over the world traveled to New Zealand to help with rescue efforts, then later the rebuilding process. After seeing news about the earthquakes in Nepal I was immediately worried about my old buddy’s safety. Thanks to social media Dan was able to tell the world he was ok, but the country was not. Unfortunately one of the Active Hearts libraries, which was only days away from its grand opening, was damaged badly. During the weeks that followed, along with helping his Nepali friends and workmates, Dan managed to organise a charity hike to help raise some relief money. Dan impresses us all when he is speaking fluently in Nepali, and this always blows the minds of the unsuspecting locals at the small villages we visit while hiking. It is important at this stage to point out that when setting up Active Hearts Foundation Dan wasn’t doing it alone…

New Zealand. What a place to explore!

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