Mount Everest Base Camp- The Adventure of a Lifetime
by Monica | November 6, 2019
If you had asked me this time last year if I wanted to hike up to Mount Everest Base Camp, I would have looked at you and wondered, “why?” The idea of seeing the highest mountain on Earth has always intrigued me but never did I imagine myself actually going there. My proverbial bucket list did not have this on it at all. In fact, it was an invitation to be part of the World Hope International’s #climbingforacause fundraiser that stirred up some interest to actually make this climb a reality.
Many times in life we get invited to be part of events that we may not truly want to do or think we don’t have time to fit them into our busy lifestyle. As I remind my yoga students, we don’t always have to accept every invite with an emphatic “yes”. Truth be told learning to say no and let go of the feeling of social obligations is quite liberating. This invite had me hesitate and research before a big, emphatic “yes” came out. But now having done it I can honestly say I would do it all again.
It was September 28, 2019 when we began our amazing adventure with a layover stopping in Istanbul. Marianne Clyde, “Mailman Mike,” and myself booked the same flights that took us to the other side of the World. We landed safely in Katmandu, Nepal on the morning of September 30 where we met the other 2 gals of our team-World Hope organizer Heather Hill from DC and professional sailor and climber Sara Hastreiter.
Immediately the eye-opening experience began as the energy of the city and all its frenetic traffic had my jaw drop as we made it safely to our hotel. It seemed there was a certain amount of trust within all the drivers of the motor-cycles, mo-peds and buses of all sizes. Clearly their eyes and ears were wide open as they are forced to pay attention to others on the streets, having no painted traffic lines nor crosswalks. Vehicles were overcrowded and safety didn’t seem to be an issue as the pedestrians had a knack for crossing the street when the going felt right.
For the next 2 nights as we spent time unwinding and adapting from our flights, we reviewed our back-pack contents along with our itinerary for the next 2 weeks. Our adventure company was introduced to us and all of a sudden the feelings of oh-my-goodness-we-are-really-doing-this flooded over me. With deep breaths, excitement and a little fear of the unknown, I was able to get a good night’s sleep. The second night, however, we had to leave at 2:00am in order to drive 4 hours to catch an early flight to Lukla Airport. It was recommended to try to sleep along the drive but the mountain climb and bumpy roads did not make it conducive to any rest at all. Then once we arrived safely at this small village airport, several hundreds of other hopeful travelers looked as though they had been there for some time. Our trek guide, Raju, did his best to get us on a flight; but due to cloudy skies and lack of visibility for these small planes, all flights were grounded until further notice.
Up to this point, no one had eaten too much of the local food or drank the water unless it was boiled. We were forewarned by Sara to avoid uncooked veggies and fruits and be wary of certain foods for fear of getting dysentery or worse, food poisoning. No one wants to deal with that while trying to acclimate to altitude! She had been there a few years back and her whole group had a terrible experience with this so we all heeded her advice. Hard-boiled eggs, nuts, protein bars and bouillon was my staple up to this point. Others brought dehydrated meals to sustain them in Katmandu. Once we began our trek to Base Camp, the tea houses were a safer source for food and we were fed well. I avoided eating meat the whole time in Nepal but had plenty of lentils and even some pizza!
So the flights to Lukla did not resume for a whole day, causing our trek guide to find us a place to stay for the night. He knows a lot of people and has new groups every few weeks so thankfully he could pull some strings when need be. Apparently we were lucky: the group he had before us could not fly out for 5 days! Once we got on our little plane, prayers were said and faith was put into those pilots hands. For just a mere 15 minute flight the looks on all 14 passengers showed much excitement and enthusiasm. It was yet another jaw dropping moment for me.
From October 3rd to October 9th we climbed in altitude from 9,400 feet to 17,600 feet. Each day began at about 6am as we started walking after packing up sleeping bags and gear plus eating a hearty breakfast at each tea house. The Kombu valley was diverse as we passed by many water-falls, lush evergreen trees, rhododendron and beautiful flowers. We trusted Raju as he led us up and over some very intense climbs including about 12 suspension bridges. With trekking poles in hand, my body strategically stepped both high and low but even as a personal trainer the challenge was felt due to the altitude. Higher and higher the landscape changed and it began to look a bit more barren with many more rocks and steps to climb. I caught myself in moments of sheer awe many times which helped ease the difficulty a bit. We had clear blue skies most every day and finally got a glimpse of the amazing Everest 4 days before reaching Base Camp. She was beautiful and full of life! Oh how brave many have been to even think of reaching her 29,000 ft summit. May all who desire to summit have their eyes wide open and trust their ability to achieve such a feat-Sara included! Making it to just 17,600 was hard enough.
Base Camp was reached on October 9 after many tough climbs with less and less oxygen. Tears came down as I struggled going up and tears of joy poured out upon our descent. I felt exhilarated that I did it and so grateful for having reached our goal for #climbingforacause. Thanks to all who donated and continue to support this eye-opening crisis for water. We experienced the need first hand over there with lack of clean water and sanitation and had to purchase boiled water to drink. Gladly these warm bottles served us well in our cold tea houses at night as we kept them in our sleeping bags!
We made it back down to Lukla airport in just 3 days after climbing up in 7. We flew safely home on October 16th and continue to process this trip of a lifetime.
Was it worth every challenge that I faced? Yes indeed. Reaching the top of the world for a life-saving cause= Priceless.
Donations still accepted at link below