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International Celebrities, Diplomats and Adventurers to Deliver Fire Appliances to Kathmandu, Nepal

The Challenge

To deliver much-needed firefighting vehicles to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal.

International celebrities, diplomats and adventurers are joining forces to drive American fire engines across the Himalayas to Kathmandu and donate them to the local fire department, presently serving over 5 million residents with only 3 fire engines. Cameras mounted inside the cabs of the fire engines will document the adventure, which has been labelled the ultimate road trip.

The Route

The narrow, winding mountain roads of Nepal are some of the most challenging and dangerous in the world. Their common features are 1,000-foot drops on either side and the absence of guard rails. It is no wonder why experts call it “the highway of death”.

Genesis of an Adventure

It all started in 2010. James Gandolfini, at the time one of the most iconic American actors, was longing for some anonymity and sought a way to escape his fame. The U.S. Ambassador to Nepal, Scott H. DeLisi, embarked on an ambitious campaign to prepare the citizens of Nepal for a devastating earthquake that experts predicted to occur within the following 10 years. Meanwhile, the fire chief of Kathmandu sought to add more fire engines to the five ageing ones serving the Kathmandu Valley’s 5 million residents. Watchmaker and two-time Everest summiteer Michael Kobold was their common friend and came up with the idea for the fire truck expedition.

“After Jim Gandolfini’s passing in the summer of 2013, I put the planning for the expedition on hold,” Kobold recalls. Kobold founded the Soarway Foundation on April 1st, 2015 and chartered it with the intent of helping Nepal in case of an earthquake. Three weeks later, on April 25, Nepal suffered the first of two back-to-back earthquakes, killing almost 10,000 people and causing the destruction of over one million homes.

After laying the expedition’s groundwork, Kobold flew to Nepal in September 2015 to make final arrangements. A new stumbling block erased all the careful negotiations of the past six months: a dispute between Nepal and India caused the latter to impose a border blockade on Nepal, thus stopping all cargo. This included the firefighting vehicles. “Basically, all our plans were dashed,” recalls three-time U.S. Ambassador Scott DeLisi, meanwhile retired and the executive director of the Soarway Foundation. Kobold spent the next 21 months in Nepal, carefully re-negotiating with successive Nepali governments. In mid-2017, the official permit was finally granted, including the import duty exemption certificate worth several million U.S. dollars. The expedition is set to effectively triple the present resources of the Kathmandu Fire Brigade.

The Team

U.S. Ambassador Scott H. DELISI – Expedition Co-Leader

As a senior diplomat, Scott DeLisi has served as U.S. ambassador on three assignments – in Eritrea, Nepal and Uganda. Ambassador DeLisi has been a part of the expedition since it’s inception in 2010.

Russell Brice – Co-Leader

Forty years ago, Sir Edmund Hillary invited Russell to accompany him to Nepal. Russell has starred in the Discovery Channel’s Everest series and is co-leading the expedition.

Malcolm McDowell

Legendary film and television actor Malcolm McDowell has been one of Hollywood’s biggest stars for over half a century.  Malcolm has been committed to the expedition long before the two earthquakes hit Nepal in 2015.

Michael Imperiolo

Michael Imperioli is a legendary character actor has visited Nepal ahead of the expedition.

Scott Glenn

Scott is one of Hollywood’s most versatile character actors and has become world-famous through films such as The Hunt for Red October, W, The Silence of the Lambs, as well as the Jason Bourne trilogy. As a former U.S. Marine, he has learned to deal with adversity.

Nuno Bettencourt

Nuno is a living legend. The leader of the rock band “Extreme”, he is one of the world’s most

celebrated guitarists.

Manisha Koirala

Manisha is one of Bollywood’s brightest stars. Originally from Nepal, Manisha is as charming and intelligent as she’s tenacious: she beat ovarian cancer and is in the process of setting up a cancer treatment centre nestled in the Himalayas.

Sunil Thapa

One of Nepal’s and Bollywood’s most celebrated actors, Sunil’s cheerful disposition contradicts the tough-guy roles in which he has often been cast.

Ranulph Fiennes

Committed to the expedition long before the 2015 earthquakes hit Nepal, Ran will join the expedition as a celebrity driver if his back injury heals in time.

Reinhold Messner

As the world’s most accomplished and famous mountaineer, Reinhold is the ideal candidate to be on one of the expedition’s celebrity drivers.

Shristi Shrestha

Actress and former Miss Nepal, Shristi Shrestha has been part of the expedition since before the 2015 earthquakes.

Martin Hartley – Expedition Photographer

The most highly acclaimed expedition photographers of our time, Martin has seen his work published in book format and in magazines such as National Geographic.

1974 AD

Providing the road trip Playlist! Nepal’s biggest rock band, 1974 AD, is going to be jamming along as their members drive one of the fire trucks to Kathmandu


The fire truck expedition is a private, commercial venture that seeks to donate fire engines to the Government of Nepal and support Nepal’s tourism industry by way of a celebrity-driven public relations campaign.

For further details and opportunities to support this epic adventure visit www.expedition.koboldwatch.com

Image is a montage of pictures showing clockwise, one of the donated fire appliances, the rod and terrain to be navigated on part of the journey, Kathmandu Fire Chier, Kishor Kumar Bhattarai, Fire trucks navigating a mountain pass in the area. Images courtesy of the expedition team.   

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Digital Editor for MDM Publishing Ltd