Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stove for the Developing World’s Health

I have a new pet, social project that I feel will be a great benefit for some of the rural areas which I visit every year. It has to do with the ineffecient cooking systems that a typical home uses in places such as Nepal, Bhutan, Peru and Tanzania. The solution is the introduction and distribution of a very efficient wood-burning (or yak-dung burning) cook stove which has the dual benefit of being very fuel efficient (environmentally friendly) and dramatically reducing the indoor air pollution (huge health issue/benefit). I heard about the stove when we were in Bhutan last October. It's a US design and is manufactured in India - 120,000 have been sold in the last three years in India .... it's very real - proven in the field, and in it's second generation of the basic design.

80% of rural households in developing countries cook with solid fuels like wood, coal, crop residues and dung. In many instances, women cook around open fires, typically with a pot atop three large stones and a wood fire in the middle.
Indoor air pollution, including smoke, carbon monoxide and other products of incomplete combustion, is a major environmental and health risk factor.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1.6 million people a year die of health effects resulting from toxic indoor air. The problem disproportionately falls on women and children who spend hours each day around the hearth. Of that 1.6 million, one million children die of pneumonia, and 600,000 women die prematurely of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases like bronchitis and emphysema.

For decades, numerous small-scale efforts to introduce improved stoves in countries like China, India and Nepal have achieved modest gains.

Envirofit was formed in 2003 and researchers and engineers are designing and testing clean-burning stoves that they say will significantly improve air quality and require less fuel.
Envirofit will offer a variety of sleek ceramic stoves from single to multipot, with and without chimneys.
[As of early 2010 Envirofit has manufactured and sold more than 120,000 stoves in India]

Reduces smoke and harmful gasses by up to 80%
Reduces biomass fuel use by up to 60%
Reduces cooking time by up to 50%

The G-3355 Double pot accessory with chimney is the perfect add-on for customers who want the portability and ease of using the single-pot stove, but need the extra cooking area for large families, festivals, or cooking for visitors.

The attachment is easily moved onto or off of the stove for quick change ability but is steady and sturdy while attached.
The chimney portion can be used as is - to move any minimal emissions out of the face of the person cooking - or can be vented out of the home.

MVX can buy the stoves and 2-pot kit and deliver them in Kathmandu for less than $100. We will do the fund-raising in the US (and England, and New Zealand, and wherever we can find a constituency), starting initially through the climbing community, but reaching out as broadly as we can - "change a family's life for $100" (and help protect the local environment as well - still working on "the message").

My goal is to distribute 10,000 of the stoves over the next five years in the Himalayan Region.It could of course be expanded to other areas, worldwide, though the nature of the item is such that transportation costs are significant - pretty easy to get them from India to Nepal by truck, but a bit more complex and costly to Africa or other destinations. We will, later this month, send a sample shipment (several dozen stoves and 2-pot units) to K-du for evaluation and trial.

This product is right in line with how MVX operates in the world of adventure travel and I hope to continue the quest to "add" anything we can to show our appreciation for the wonders of the world which we visit.

Monday, July 5, 2010

MVX goes to Mexico

This is surely the most unique trip we offer on several different levels. You think you know Mexico? We are ready to give you a completely different taste of this "familiar" land. We combine the physical challenge of ascending one of Mexico's highest volcanoes with the thrill of descending one of it's most amazing gorge rivers. And to top it off, we will share the remarkable Dinner In The Dark experience...where we will enjoy a delicious meal served in a room completely void of light...with a remarkable blind wait staff providing guidance.

The Ascent:
Malinche, 4,480 meters high is an extinct volcanoe that rises 2,000 meters above the Puebla altiplano. The ascent is physically demanding, primarily due to the altitude gain, however the terrain is not exceptionally difficult. It is mostly done on a trail that winds it´s way through the forest up to 4,000 meters and then cruises up a loose ash, scree slope. A hundred meters below the summit there is a boulder section that requires some scrambling. The summit provides a remarkable view of the other 3 surrounding vocanoes and the sprawl of Mexico City below. In all, a 3 day ascent to almost 15,000ft.
Alter descending from the summit of Malinche we drive down for an overnight stay at a picturesque 17th century hacienda...Jalcomulco Veracruz.

The Descent:
Jalcomulco Veracruz is a picturesque village amidst the Veracruz rainforest, our take off point for a descent of the beautiful Río Pescados. This fun and exciting moderate river rafting experience takes you through the core of the jungle ecosystem, passing just under 300 ft cliffs, waterfalls and various flora and fauna typical of the region. The river runs narrow and swift through a combination of mango plantations and tropical forests. From the river source of Descabezadero, where springs gush out of a fern covered natural limestone amphitheatre to the take out, 20 km downstream, the river offers almost nonstop Class II and III whitewater. The rapids are perfect for first timers as well as technical and challenging enough for experienced river runners to enjoy.

Once you have completed the 3 hour raft journey through the jungle we continue with our theme of "descent" as we head off to do some rappellingl in the heart of the Veracruz jungle. Several rappel lines will be set up for a slow, controlled desecent into some of the stunning limestone caves that are found in the Veracruz region.
The descending continues as we begin our canyoneering section of the trip. We will hike and slide down a wonderfully polished and dramatic canyon that has sevearal optional jumps ranging from 10 to 30 ft. into crystal clear pools.
Then, to top it off we let the day "soak" into us as we participate in a local custom...a Temascal (steam bath) to unwind from it all.

Dinner In The Dark:
After all of that excitement...this is quite possilby the highlight of the trip.The taste is EVERYTHING in the dark! Imagine eating an entire, exquisite meal with not the slightest bit of light. With the complete loss of vision — and the resulting heightening of the other four senses — an evening at Mexico's first-ever dark restaurant is an extraordinary culinary adventure. As taste buds work overtime to discover fresh nuances in well-known flavors, even simple, everyday foods like potatoes or plain yogurt morph into nouvelle cuisine. Your waiters play a particularly important role — all of them are either visually handicapped or completely blind, and they not only serve the meals but also act as guides to you, the stumbling diner. Once they have shepherded the clientele through a "light lock" to their table in the pitch black dining room, the specially trained staff offer reassurance to the nervous and instruction on how to best to tackle the food and drink.
This meal always provides the diners with endless conversation topics..."my senses were so heightened". "I made such a mess". "The wait staff was incredible". A dinner in the dark experience will forever change how you perceive the world around you.
All of this in just 7 days! An amazing journey into Mexico...from the one of highest points to one of the lowest...we take you on a trip through the land of enchantment.

Contact us at info@mountain-vision.com for more info.

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