A monk prays to the sound of music during the climbing puja at the Pangboche Monastery. The ceremony was meant to bring safe passage and good fortune to the climbers going for the summit of Everest. Photograph by Max Lowe

A monk prays to the sound of music during the climbing puja at the Pangboche Monastery. The ceremony was meant to bring safe passage and good fortune to the climbers going for the summit of Everest. Photograph by Max Lowe

Make a donation and 100 percent of the proceeds got to support the Sherpa community. And you get a beautiful print as a thank you. More here: http://www.sherpasfund.org

The echo of the massive avalanche that swept 16 climbers to their death last Sunday, April 18, while climbing through the Khumbu Icefall has been heard around the world.

In recent years, Everest has become a flash point of incidents with more and more commercial climbing groups pushing for the summit of the peak to attain the highest point on planet Earth. The Sherpa are the foundation of the activities that occur on Everest. They are the ones who carry camps, food, and oxygen up the mountain for their Western clients. This loss of Sherpa life—and the largest number of deaths recorded on Everest in one incident—has sparked uproar from many communities and created a hypersensitive situation around the peak.

In 1999, my father, Alex Lowe, perished in an avalanche on the slopes of another Himalayan peak, Shishapangma, within the borders of Tibet. After his death, my mother along with Alex’s best friend, Conrad Anker, established the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation (ALCF)  to honor Alex’s memory and the love and respect he held for the Sherpa people of the Himalaya. Currently, the main focus of the ALCF has been the Khumbu Climbing Center, a school in the Everest region where Western climbers travel each spring to teach courses to Sherpa climbers, so that they might better know mountain safety, skills, and training. As a 16-year-old, I traveled to the first year of the KCC and began a relationship with the Sherpa people there that would blossom into a project I completed in 2012 studying the social and cultural geography of the Sherpa of the Khumbu over a three-month period. During this time I lived with Sherpa families, worked alongside them at Everest basecamp and made friendships that I cherish over much else, with people who have proven to be some of the kindest, most sincere, and hardworking individuals I know.

It was with a heavy hand that the news of last week’s tragedy hit my family and me. With so many ties to the region—and several friends and past students from the KCC who perished in the avalanche—it was stunning to sit back and watch helplessly as events unfolded and more and more news sprung from Base Camp about the incidents occurred.

In past days, fellow National Geographic photographer and storyteller Aaron Huey, who over the past year had been working on a story for the magazine on the Sherpa people, contacted me about an idea: to gather together those NG photographers and friends of ours who shot in Nepal and the Himalaya, and through sell images we saw as those most embodying of the Sherpa people and the beauty of their home in the Himalaya, raise money to help the families of those affected by the deaths on Everest.

Today we launched a website, posted with a host of images donated by ten photographers (including Jimmy Chin, Cory Richards, Renan Ozturk, Pete McBride, Andy Bardon, Grayson Schaffer, Tommy Heinrich, James Balog, and Gordon Wiltsie), to sell prints from which the proceeds will be entirely donated to the families of fallen climbing Sherpas, as well as through the Khumbu Climbing Center put to use to create a supportive communal infrastructure for those Sherpa men and women who venture back into the high mountains.

If you are able and willing, please go to http://www.sherpasfund.org and consider buying a print to support this community of heroic people who help make the top of the world an attainable goal for so many. The site will be open for business only though Sunday to push urgency for these purchases so that financial relief might reach those families in need sooner than later.