An Oral History of Langtang Valley, Destroyed by the Nepal Earthquake

We spent our first night there not really sleeping at all, just kind of leaning with our backs against this boulder. It snowed most of the night. Everyone was really on edge, and every time there was an aftershock, people would start screaming and running. I was terrified of every aftershock. We were saying that we couldn’t tell if the earth was still moving or if it was just us trembling.

I had a satellite phone with unlimited minutes, so I became the telephone booth for the village. Some of it was logistical stuff: the leaders of Kyanjin Gomba were using the phone to call the Nepalese army to make arguments for why the helicopters needed to come, but the majority of the calls were people calling family members. Each day, people would line up and have a number written down on a scrap of paper, and we would try calling. These people were crying into the phone. You don’t need to speak Nepalese to understand that.

American mountain climber Colin Haley, in Outside magazine, recounts waiting for help after the magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Langtang Valley, 40 miles northeast of Kathmandu, on April 25, 2015. In this oral history compiled by Anna Callaghan and Rabi Thapa, residents and foreigners describe this day of destruction, how half of the village population was buried, and what happened in the days that followed.

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