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.
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.
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.
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!