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...
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.
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.