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“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves”

December 19, 2017 December 2017 No Comments

The view from base camp.

– Sir Edmund Hillary.

A year ago a close girlfriend said “I want to trek to Mt Everest Base Camp but I have no-one to do it with”. Me having never been a tramper, camper, trekker or even bushwalker said “I’ll do it with you”! So I bought my first pair of tramping boots and began walking in the Tararuas most weekends.

Weekdays I was in the gym with guidance from Kev Rickey to build strength, and endurance towards being physically prepared for a 12 day trek at altitude.

The trek began near Lukla, which boasts the worlds most dangerous airport at 2800m, and after nearly 9 hours we climbed to Namche Bazaar at 3600m. Even at this altitude walking up a few flights of stairs left you breathless. I wondered how the hell I was going to manage to climb to 5300m at Base Camp and still be alive!

The effects of being at altitude impact everyone differently and it’s something that’s almost impossible to train for. I experienced mild symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) with headaches everyday, incredible insomnia, feeling clammy and nauseous and burred vision at one stage.

However the true reality of it came when 6 days into our trek Julie, my trekking buddy, became very sick with AMS. Our guide acted quickly and she was helicoptered to hospital just 2 days before reaching Base Camp. That left me on my own with another couple that was part of our group. My whole reason for going had just been plucked out and it literally felt like I’d lost a limb.

It made the trek even more difficult and at times it was a lonely trudge. Reaching Base Camp at 5364m or 17,600ft was a moment I will never forget. It wasn’t so much the views, as stunning and indescribable as they are, it was the sense of “I did it, I bloody did it!” To give you a comparison Mount Cook sits at just 12,349ft above sea level.

You don’t spend much time at Base Camp once there, it’s literally snap a few pics, take in the scenery then walk back to Gorak Shep to stay a night, before a rapid 3 day decent down to end the trek back in Lukla and have a well deserved Everest Beer!
For me it really wasn’t about ‘Base Camp’ it was more about the journey to getting there. The months of preparation, the mental and physical battles you encounter along the way.

Trekking the Himalayas really is about being on the rooftop of the world. I struggle to put into words just how these mighty mountains touch you. Going 5 days without showering and no access to running water, trekking on just hours of sleep, the things you see, the people, the yaks trains, everything, changes you. It changes your perspective on life and really makes you value the small things.

The trek itself, whilst physically challenging and the hardest thing I have ever done, was stunning and magical. Would I do it again, knowing just how difficult it was? Absolutely! Never be afraid of pushing yourself beyond your limits as you just never know where it might take you!

Corina Lawson

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