Thursday, 2 July 2015

Everest Base Camp 2015

Most incredible, hard-going, rewarding camping and trekking I have ever done in my life. Trek to Everest Base Camp for the British Heart Foundation, Mar/Apr 2015.
We all know of the horrific occurrences recently in Nepal. Some of our sherpas from my trek have lost their lives, others have lost their homes. It's important, however, to understand the Nepalese. Through everything, they are the most positive, happy and kind people I have met. And they will push through and overcome these battles, because that's the kind of people they are. I believe the world can learn a lot from them.
With this, it's also important not to be put off visiting Nepal - my goodness you'd be missing out! A breathtakingly stunning part of the world, tourism attracts a lot of the revenue for Nepal. And a trek to Everest Base Camp? Definitely a good choice!

I had never done a trek or trip like this in my life before. But this was definitely an incredible one to start with! Beginning in the bustling city of Kathmandu, we took a small flight (most dangerous flight in the world might I add?!) up to the mountains, arriving in the small, colourful town of Lukla. From there, a trek lasting 10 days to EBC was endured. I say "endured" because as much fun as I had on the trek, it wasn't a breeze! Steep climbs, while battling the lack of oxygen is not an easy task. I was lucky enough to only have mild altitude issues, including a headache which started fairly early on, and nausea on the day of reaching EBC. Other trekkers had no symptoms at all, and two were helicoptered to hospital. Just shows you how differently people can react. Anyway, back to the trek! The trail was stunning mountainous (duh) views, with crashing avalanches in the background and a hot sun keeping you smiling! The locals were wonderful. If you ever do this trek, I recommend stopping at the famous Namche Bazaar, where you can pick up extra equipment and all sorts of souvenirs and gifts. There's a beautiful little art shop, where the artist himself can tell you about all the lovely paintings he has on sale (I bought two small ones myself!). Don't forget to visit the monastery at Tengboche - if you're there around 3:30pm, you can even go in (quietly!) and watch the monks chanting. It really is a fascinating experience.

The camping aspect was actually far more bearable than first expected. Even on snowy nights, once you're snuggled in your -10 (at least) sleeping bag + liner, you'll forget about the snow storm outside! Saying that, we only had two snowstorms. One we camped in, which, as I said above, was totally fine, and actually gave us some spectacular views to wake up to in the morning. The second we couldn't camp in, as the snow had fallen too much before the sherpas arrived with our tents, so we had to stay in a teahouse instead. (Just a note here, I highly recommend camping over teahouses - far more hygienic!). Unfortunately, the second storm almost cancelled our EBC trip, as it was the night before the ultimate day. We were lucky enough that the storm moved the opposite direction than predicted - but if it hadn't, the mountain weather is not something to play around with!

But, thanks to the change in storm, we made it to Everest Base Camp! I will not lie, I cried when I was there. I put down prayer flags for my two Grandads, who I was raising money in memory of. The overwhelming feelings of relief, achievement and satisfaction are beyond what you would imagine. There is an immense buzz at peak trekking season, congratulating your trekking mates as well as other groups that you've been passing along the way. Through the sweat, tears, sheer exaustion, illnesses and general grossness (no showers for 2.5 weeks...), we finally made it!

The slog back down to Lukla was tough, as you've reached the main goal but there's still plenty of hills to climb, which I don't think I expected! But the rush of oxygen is a wonderful feeling! The total trip time was 2 and a half weeks, including a day either side in Kathmandu. Which was a major relief, getting to relax by the pool at the end of the trek! If anyone is planning on doing this trek, please let me know how you're feeling! Also, check out my kit list based on my experience over there if you're looking for some ideas of what to take. Any questions? I'd be happy to answer! I raised over £3000 for the British Heart Foundation, and above all, proved to myself how much I can achieve when putting my mind to it!

If you're wanting to book your own fundraising adventure, check out Charity Challenge. I highly recommend them: the guides were fantastic, knowledgeable and attentive, and the entire run-up to the trip was organised and easy, with regular updates with staff and all of my questions answered and my nerves eased!

*Our first sighting of Everest, looking over our camp*

*Memorial for those that have lost their life on Everest, covered in a snow storm*

*Everest, brewing a storm at Her peak, and Lhotse to her right*

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