The long road to Base Camp

We are so pleased to share another story from one of the 2018 Everest Base Camp team. Reaching Base Camp was a goal for Pamela since 2014, and here she tells us how she got there... 

My journey to Everest Base Camp was a very long road.

In August 2011 I suddenly became ill with high temperatures. I gradually got worse and worse and after 3 weeks was admitted to hospital and was diagnosed with viral meningitis. Though I was unable to walk more than a few steps, and had lost the capacity to think and speak ‘normally’, I’d been told that lots of people recover from this condition quickly, and so I expected to be back at work and in my usual routine in a few weeks or at worst months. That wasn’t to be my experience!

A year later I had been medically discharged from the job that I loved, and was struggling with even the least strenuous of daily tasks. A year beyond that, having been referred to the amazing Brain Injury Team based in Thompson House in Lisburn, I was starting to make progress. However, I was still suffering from chronic fatigue and continued to struggle with word finding and cognitive function. This was two years after I first became ill. Our family were attending Castlewellan Holiday Week, and it was then that I heard about the trek Jono and Beth were leading to Everest Base Camp. I turned to David, my husband, and said, “I’m going to do that, and when I do, I’ll know that I’ve recovered!” I know he didn’t believe me, and I didn’t join the first trip in 2014, but in 2018 I finally reached that goal! 

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It took all of those, almost 7 years, to get to a place where I believed I was ready for this challenge. I wasn’t worried that day by day I was the slowest of the nine members of the team who came together to trek to Base Camp. I had a confidence that somehow, I was going to make it to that destination at 5,335m. 

The trip and trek itself was amazing with such a mix of experiences! There was the noise, colour and culture of Kathmandu, the flight into Lukla, with a  helicopter ride back out, and then the breath-taking scenery trekking through the Himalayas. The trekking company who looked after us were so professional, and the guides with us made sure everyone was safe and well. The accommodation was basic by western standards but, on the whole, much more comfortable than I had expected. It was great to both have company to walk with, but then also to have times when I could walk alone and just allow the beauty of this amazing place to sink in.

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The few days both before and after reaching Base Camp were the most challenging, but again, I had a real peace and inner confidence that I was going to reach that target. When I finally did reach Base Camp it was incredibly emotional. This was something that meant so much to me, in marking the end of a chapter where a period of illness had seemed to define so much of what life was about for me. Reaching that physical place on a mountain far away, symbolised having overcome another mountain which had been an ever-present barrier in my life for what seemed such a long time. 

 Pamela reaches Base Camp!

Pamela reaches Base Camp!

Through this whole journey of recovery I have been very aware of God’s hand at work again and again, in opening doors to my healing, and in teaching me so many lessons along the way. His presence was also incredibly real on this 18 day journey to and from Everest. Alongside a great group of people, led so expertly by Jono, Beth and the team from Mountain Delights, this was a life changing experience for me, and one which I would recommend anyone to consider.

If you'd like more information on the 2019 Treks, please get in touch or you can download the brochure for Base Camp or the Himalayan Trail Trek.

Father & Son make it to Base Camp

Ken & his son Jacob were part of the team that climbed to Everest Base Camp in April 2018. Here Ken shares a brief overview of their time in Nepal. 

On Wednesday 21st March 2018, our journey to Everest Base Camp started with a flight from Dublin to Doha, but in reality preparations for the journey started many months earlier.  Each ‘trekker’ committed to fundraising a minimum of £1350; this year all funds raised were split between Kopila-Nepal (WDR Partner) and The Surf Project. 

Our personal fund raising kicked off with an 8 hour static cycle in Newtownards Shopping Centre and included a coffee morning at our house, the sale of chocolate snowmen, and a bread and cheese lunch at Carnalea Methodist Church. Our final figure of £5103 raised was in no small measure as a direct result of all the incredible support we received from friends and colleagues, and in particular the congregation at Carnalea Methodist Church. 

Nepal is situated between India and China, with Mount Everest sits in the eastern part of the country, on the border with Tibet.  Flying out of Dublin were two trekking teams; nine of us were heading for Everest and a further six heading to Poon Hill in the Annapurna Region.  After spending a night in Kathmandu, we boarded an early morning flight to Lukla Airport, reputed to be the most dangerous commercial airport in the world.  Its location was certainly spectacular and marked the commencement of nine days of walking which would eventually take us to Everest Base Camp and an altitude of almost 18,000 feet.

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For the first couple of days we walked the Dudh Koshi river valley crossing the river on several occasions by way of wire suspension bridges.  The second afternoon brought our first major altitude gain with several hours of climbing steep paths to reach the village of Namche Bazaar. Namche is the main trading centre and hub for the Khumbu region and sits at an altitude of almost 11500 feet. We spent two nights here, acclimatising to the increase in altitude and it was during our acclimatisation walk on the second day that we obtained our first good view of the summit of Mount Everest. 

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Our second two-day acclimatisation period was taken at Dingbouche at an altitude of approximately 14,500 feet.  It was here that my son Jacob celebrated his 15th birthday and it was also at Dingbouche that we experienced our first substantial snow fall, as we continued higher to Lobouche temperatures started to fall to well below zero at night. 

On Good Friday morning, we rose early for our summit day and despite the odd blizzard and tiring legs, we all successfully reached Base Camp at an altitude of almost 18,000 feet by late morning.

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This is of course wasn’t the end of our journey but as we travelled back down to lower and warmer altitudes, weary legs and bodies found new strength and energy and we made it back to our starting point in Lukla in five days; fourteen days after leaving it, we again passed through the Memorial Gate at Lukla and our trek was over.  After a final night, which included sharing a meal with our excellent guides and porters, we awoke to find that low cloud was preventing any aircraft landing at Lukla and we made the decision to fly back to Kathmandu by helicopter, a memorable end to a truly memorable journey.

Although the trip wasn’t a spiritual pilgrimage as such, the journey certainly brought both of us closer to God.  It quickly became evident that we had left behind the busyness of modern living for a simpler way of life.  The lack of outside distractions meant that there was so much more time to think, to pray and to wonder at our surroundings and the majesty of God’s amazing creation. A lesson we both hope that we have carried home with us.

We would strongly encourage anyone to consider going on next year’s trip!

 

 Applications are now open for the 2019 Fundraising Treks! Click here to download the Base Camp brochure, or here for Himalayan Trail Trek. 

A journey of faith & exploration

September 2014 saw the first trek to Everest Base camp in aid of Kopila-Nepal (WDR Partner) and The Surf Project. In this blog, one of the members of this first team, Jim McBain, shares his reflections on the trek and how it really is for all ages... 

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When the Methodist Church in Ireland approved the first fundraising trek to Everest Base Camp I was immediately interested. My son had been there and come home with photos of soaring snow-covered peaks and huge suspension bridges over deep ravines and raging rivers.  Mountain villages perched on terraces and Sherpa farmers tending their yaks added to the lure. I wanted to go, but at the age of 70 I knew there would be obstacles. I was sure my wife would oppose the idea and get support form our daughter, a hospital doctor who understood the dangers of altitude sickness. However, when I cautiously broached the subject, I was surprised by my wife’s willingness to let me apply;  she was confident that a man of 70 would be turned down on grounds of age and idiocy! 

The organisers were more sympathetic. Jono and Beth stated their willingness to let me join the party if I passed the medical and coped with their testing training hikes in the Mournes. And so it was, that in September 2014, I set off with 19 other adventurers on the trip of a lifetime.  I kept a journal of my time which runs to many pages but shows how each day brought fresh joys.  Many memories crowd my mind, one being a poster in a hostel half way to base camp which proclaimed “Age is just a number”.

The fact that I made it there and back owes more to the experienced leadership of our Sherpa guides and porters than to any claims I might make for strength and stamina.  No doubt 13 days of continuous trekking [8 days up – 5 days down] demands a degree of mental and physical fitness, but it is perfectly doable with a bit of training and preparation.  Supported every step of the way by fellow travellers it was a journey of faith and exploration.  We were on a Mission Together– to reconnect with our faith in the company of other believers in a setting which proclaimed the creative power of the Almighty.  It is easy in the Himalayas to look around and praise the name of Him who made it all.  The fact that the money we raised [over 30,000 Euro] was doing so much good was an added blessing- check out Kopila's work here

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I would encourage anyone with a sense of adventure and a desire to do one outrageous thing in their life to join.  You will not get the opportunity to laze on a lounger by a 4-star pool, but you will have the chance to bathe in waterfalls flowing from glaciers and along the way marvel at monasteries on hilltops and flowers at your feet.  As for the altitude, have no fear.  Jono and Beth will look after you and bring you home glowing with renewal and fulfilment and a feeling of achievement unlike anything you have ever known.

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If you'd like to follow in Jim's footsteps and climb Everest Base Camp to fundraise for Kopila-Nepal, please get in touch. You can download the brochure here, or for the Himalayan Trail Trek click here. The money raised by the teams has a huge impact on Kopila as they continue to improve the lives of local people in Nepal.