Getting Started! Preparing for your next adventure …

There is no feeling to match a successful summit, or the hard-earned blisters of a rewarding trekking or hiking adventure. If this is your first challenge or expedition, or if you are heading into new territory, you may have some questions on how best to prepare yourself.

My focus is on the medical and physical aspects of mountaineering and adventure activities – there are any factors that contribute to successful expeditions, but physical condition plays a significant role.

The first step is to ensure that your health is at an adequate level to sustain you through the trials and challenges that lie ahead – not just the expedition itself, but also the training and preparation that will be required – and the return to a safe environment. A good starting point, if you are in any doubt about your health status, is to pay your family doctor a visit – or better yet, complete an exhaustive pre-expedition medical with an appropriately-qualified sports physician. Also prepare yourself with any travel-based assessments and be familiar with the travel medications that you may need later (such as malaria medication, required vaccinations etc), as these may have an impact on your physical performance.

The second step – even before we get to the actual training! – is to evaluate your equipment needs. Consider the current state of your climbing/hiking equipment, and piece together a timeline for any repairs and replacement. A massive part of your preparation will involve you familiarizing yourself with your equipment. Certain items, such as your footwear and backpacks need to be worn in, and your body may need to fully adjust to them – so get them in early and start getting used to them.

Part three – start thinking about a plan of action. Put together a training plan – consider the amount of time you have available, and the training goals and objectives you will need to achieve before you are ready to go. This may result in you delaying your trip if you feel you may not be able to get to the required level in the time you have available – better safe than sorry!

You cannot complete all your training in the comfort of a gym, so be sure to schedule in time outdoors in environments similar to that of your destination – be sure to have your critical equipment in action training with you! Other aspects of your training can be conducted in more comfortable environments (such as your local gym, or with a suitably-qualified practitioner – make sure you “outsource” your hopes and aspirations to someone who has experience dealing with mountaineering and adventure activities). If you are in any doubt about the best way to formulate a training schedule, or if you are not confident in your ability to get the best work done, make sure to consult with an appropriately-qualified professional.

A key element of preparation is “simulation” – getting out into terrain similar to what you will be experiencing on your trip. The mental aspects of preparation are as critical as the physical ones, so make sure you research the environment well (by attending talks, investigating the region using print and online resources, and spending some time with tour operators and guides familiar with your destination). Many challenges are completed in your head, well before you even begin the physical journey!

Following these simple steps will hopefully set you up on the right path from the word go – ambitious adventures have the potential to come off the rails before you can even start, so plan carefully and methodically.

Article by Zac van Heerden M.Sc (Med) (Exercise Physiology)


Everest 2017 • Summit Success!

Friday 19 May

Anshu Jamsenpa, Furi Sherpa and Karma Sherpa left Base Camp at 2 am for Camp 2. They plan to summit on Sunday the 21st. This will potentially be Anshu’s 5th summit, Furi’s 7th summit and Karma’s 2nd summit. Best of luck, and please stay strong, focused and safe.

We have just heard that Neil Ward and Tendi Sherpa are safely at Camp 3. They had a little difficulty finding their tent, but they are pitched, comfortable and warm. Tomorrow they will move up to the South Col, with the intention of summiting on Sunday. The attached pics depict their climb up the Lhotse Face and Camp 3.

These three have now arrived at Camp 2. 

Saturday 20 May

We are very excited to announce that Neil Ward, Anshu Jamsenpa, Tendi Sherpa, Furi Sherpa and Karma Sherpa have arrived safely at the South Col. They will rest for the next five hours before starting their summit push. We are watching the weather forecasts extremely closely, but right now it is looking fantastic and all looks good for successful summits. Rest well team and keep us posted.

Sunday 21 May

Good news! Anshu Jamsenpa, Furi Sherpa and Karma Sherpa summited about 45 minutes ago. This is Anshu’s 5th summit and the highest number of summits by any Indian female ever. It’s also her second summit this season. Congratulations to Anshu, Furi and Karma!

We are extremely proud of you. Neil and Tendi decided to stay at th

e South Col and not to push, because of the wind. They will reconsider their options later today.


Tuesday 23 May

Unfortunately Neil Ward and Tendi Sherpa decided to turn around at the South Col. They made their way safely down to Base Camp. Anshu Jamsenpa, Furi Sherpa and Karma Sherpa should reach Base Camp later today and then the big pack-up begins. Congratulations to everyone for a safe and successful expedition!


Everest 2017 • Summit Days

17 May

We are excited to announce that Neil Ward and Tendi Sherpa will leave Base Camp in the early hours of tomorrow morning to start their push to the summit of Everest and to the summit of Lhotse. They will spend tomorrow night at Camp 2, then move up to Camp 3, before climbing up to the South Col for the first of their two summits. We are right behind you guys, and wish you all the courage and strength in your endeavours. Stay strong and be safe.

18 May – Everest 2017 Camp 2

Neil and Tendi made it through the Ice Fall and up to Camp 2 this morning in just under 6 hours. That is climbing 1,200 vertical meters and covering about 10 kilometers, all at above 6,000 metres! Very impressive.
Neil said he was a little tired, but at that pace, I don’t blame him. They will rest at Everest 2017 Camp 2Camp 2 tonight and move up to Camp 3 tomorrow. According to Neil, it is blowing on the summit, but that should abate.
This pic shows the views that he and Tendi are enjoying right now and, of course, Nima, our Camp 2 cook, who has been there for a number of weeks looking after our team. He is an an absolute stalwart and completely dependable. Thank you Nima, for looking after our climbers. Without you it would be almost impossible.


Everest 2017 • Reaching for the summit

21 April

It has started snowing here in Base Camp and the forecast seems to indicate that this will continue for the next 48 hours. Neil will come down from Camp 2 tomorrow and the rest of the team will consolidate here in BC. We hope to see that summit soon!

22 April

We had a fair bit of snow last night, with a little more expected over the weekend. A team of trekkers from the Philippines joined us in BC last night. None of them had ever seen snow before. They were so excited and thoroughly enjoyed their visit.

23 April

Neil arrived back in Base Camp yesterday after spending one night at Camp 1 and two nights at Camp 2. He is in great spirits. Four of our Sherpas left BC at 1:30 this morning and deposited a few loads at Camp 2, and another two of our team members will leave at 2 am tomorrow for their first serious push through the Ice Fall. A huge thanks to our Sherpas, and good luck to our fellow team mates.

24 April

Early this morning, two Sherpas got injured in the Ice Fall. They were immediately brought back down to Base Camp, and then flown by chopper to Kathmandu. We are yet to hear the outcome of their injuries. Our two team members turned around on their way into the Ice Fall and made their way back to camp. The route was fixed soon thereafter. We have another climber going up to Camp 1 tomorrow and our Sherpas prepared to assist with her first rotation. The rest of the day was spent chilling.

25 April

This morning one of our team members left Base Camp at 3 am, accompanied by four of our Sherpas. She climbed through the Khumbu Ice Fall to Camp One. She will spend the night with one of our Sherpas, while the other three will set up Camp Two. On a sadder note, two of our team members decided that their expedition was over and they flew out of Base Camp this morning to Kathmandu by helicopter. Strength and courage to everyone on their respective missions.

30 April

The last few days days have been exciting for our climbers on Everest. Anshu, who had spent some time at Camp 2, ascended the Lhotse Face and touched Camp 3. This almost completes her acclimatization. Two days ago, Neil moved through the Khumbu Ice Fall with Tendi Sherpa to Camp 2. They both felt strong. Neil, who is attempting Lhotse without oxygen, will sleep at Camp 3 in the next few days and then deposit a load at the high camp on Lhotse, which is situated around 7,900 metres. We will keep you posted with the progress of Neil and Anshu. This pic of the Khumbu Ice Fall was taken by our Sirdar, Lhakpa Rangdu Sherpa. Thank you Lhakpa for sharing these with us.

2 May

The Adventures Global team have completed their acclimatization and now await that first weather window. Neil slept at Camp 3 two nights ago and dropped some gear higher up on Lhotse the day after, and Anshu is currently resting in BC. The winds have been strong, but should start dropping towards the end of the week. Exciting times. We will keep you posted.

6 May

The winds on Everest are starting to abate and we should see our first few summits in the next couple of days. In the meantime, Neil and Anshu have been resting and getting ready for their respective pushes. Our thoughts are constantly with them.
It is important for everyone that has been following our expedition to know that Ronnie and Elizabeth are no longer in Base Camp. They trekked out some days ago, but continue to monitor the progress of their remaining climbers, who are completely self-sufficient and only require the help of our extremely competent Sirdar and team of very experienced Sherpas. This is a long story, so if anyone really wants to know the details of this decision, please send AG a private message and we will respond accordingly. However, they are both healthy and well and currently in Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha. Namaste to one and all!

8 May

The Adventures Global team are preparing for their first summit pushes. Neil is climbing Lhotse without oxygen and he is now waiting for the last of the fixed lines to be put in place. Once that climb is completed, he will drop down to BC for some rest, before attempting Everest without oxygen. Anshu hopes to summit Everest twice this season and should leave Base Camp in the next few days. All the teams are watching the weather forecasts and we should see the first summits of the season in the next few days.

12 May

Nine Sherpas have finally reached the summit of Everest on the North Side. They are the first to have summited Everest this climbing season. Congratulations guys. Lets hope that the route can now be opened on the South Side.

15 May

Finally the route is open. Good luck to everyone queuing up at the South Col. Be filled with courage as you head off on your summit push tonight!

Today, 16 May

We are very excited and proud to announce that Anshu Jamsenpa and Furi Sherpa stood on the summit of Everest at 09:15 this morning! Congratulations guys, and now for a safe descent.



Everest 2017 • Base Camp Days

12 April
This morning we all managed to grab a shower in Base Camp. Our first in over four days – what a pleasure! We also managed to get our internet connected, so we are all good to go and connected.

13 April
Today some of our Sherpa team started packing for their first load carry to Camp 2 next week.

14 April
Good morning Everest Base Camp! Today the team are making their way up to the high camp on Pumori, to aid their acclimatization. Good luck guys.

15 April
We had about 10 centimetres of snow last night. How quickly the weather can change here at the base of the highest mountain in the world! After breakfast, Neil, Lhakpa and Ronnie attended a meeting to discuss the rope fixing on the mountain. The Ministry have allowed that all rope and hardware be airlifted to Camp 2. This minimizes the hazardous load carries by the Sherpa’s through the Ice Fall. All of this equipment was flown by chopper two days ago, so the rope fixing above Camp 2 will commence in the next few days. This is great news.

16 April
Last night the wind absolutely pumped in Base Camp, which made sleeping rather challenging, but this did not prevent various teams from moving through the Ice Fall up to Camp 1 early this morning. We will spend a relaxing day in BC in anticipation of our Puja Ceremony tomorrow morning.

17 April
After an extremely windy night, we all got up early to take part in our Puja Ceremony. Part of the proceedings were conducted in our lounge tent because of the windy conditions and then we all moved outside to raise the prayer flags above our camp. The Puja Ceremony is very important to our Sherpa team. Equipment is blessed and we ask for safe passage on the mountain. Our team is now at liberty to proceed through the Ice Fall and onto the higher reaches of the mountain.
After our Puja Ceremony we had breakfast, and then went into the Ice Fall to sharpen up on some of our ladder crossing skills, as well as our abseiling. All in all, a very productive day.

18 April
Ronnie Muhl has had the privilege of climbing with Nima Nuru Sherpa on more than one occasion now. He is an outstanding mountaineer, who has summited Everest 20 times. The current record held by Apa Sherpa is 21 and it would not surprise us if Nima did not attempt two summits this season. He joined us at our Puja Ceremony yesterday. Congratulations Nima on an exceptional climbing career to date. At your age, I think you are just starting to warm up. We will watch your mountaineering progress with keen interest. Ronnie is proud to have climbed with you and we are honored to be associated with you.

20 April
Our Sherpa team left early yesterday morning to drop loads at Camp 2. They all moved incredibly well, with most of them being back in BC by mid morning. Neil moved up to Camp 1 to spend the night, before heading up to Camp 2 for two nights. We then had a horse visit us before attending our neighbours’ Puja Ceremony hosted by Sirdar Nima Nuru Sherpa. Elizabeth finally arrived in BC. How nice to have her join us. What an amazing day.


Everest 2017 • Kathmandu to Base Camp

31 March
The Adventures Global Everest expedition team are slowly starting to arrive in Kathmandu. The Yak and Yeti Hotel is buzzing with expeditions and a number of briefings are taking place out in the gardens. Gear is being checked and the nervous energy is tangible. We are excited for what lies ahead.

3 April
It has been a busy 24 hours for the Adventures Global team. Yesterday afternoon we collected our permit from the Ministry and then went to a traditional restaurant for our welcome dinner. This morning early we had a Puja ceremony in Kathmandu and then held our official briefing back at the Yak and Yeti Hotel. This is our last day in Kathmandu, before we fly to Lukla first thing tomorrow morning. The rest of the day will be spent doing all that last minute shopping and then getting to bed early.

6 April
On Tuesday the Adventures Global team flew from Kathmandu to Lukla. After rearranging some bags, they trekked to Phakding (2,640 metres) and spent the night. Yesterday they trekked to Namche Bazaar (3,440 metres) in beautiful weather. Everyone arrived safely, in good spirits and in fine health.
Today the team trekked up to the Everest View Hotel for some additional acclimatization. The weather was incredible and the views of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam were outstanding. They were back down in Namche Bazaar for lunch. Ronnie stayed behind and attended a Puja Ceremony in commemoration of the new Chorten that be built soon, to replace the one that got destroyed in the devastating earthquake of 2015.

9 April
On Friday the AG team left Namche Bazaar and trekked to Tengboche. The weather was magnificent and the views exquisite. We spent a comfortable night at the Rivendell Lodge. Yesterday we made our way up to Upper Pangboche, where we had a Puja Blessing with Lama Geshe. It is always a special occasion. We had lunch in Somare at the lodge owned by Lhakpa Nuru, before making our way to Pheriche. We will spend two nights here.
Today the team did an acclimatization walk on the ridge above Dingboche. They reached 5,000 metres. They got back down feeling good.

12 April
On Monday we left Pheriche (4,200 metres) and trekked up to Lobouche (4,950 metres) via Dukla, where we stopped for tea and a snack. Neil went off to climb Island Peak, while Elizabeth decided to spend an extra day in Pheriche to aid her acclimatization. We spent the night at the Eco Lodge in Lobouche and then yesterday made our way up to Base Camp. I have never seen so many people on the trail before. It has been incredibly busy. It was great to be welcomed in Base Camp by all of our staff and climbing sherpas, who have been here for two weeks setting up camp. Without them we would really struggle. What an epic two days, where we ascended about 1,100 meters. It is awesome to finally be here, but surreal to think that this is where we will live for the next 45 days.




Aconcagua 2017 • The Adventures Global team head off on another Aconcagua adventure!

Sunday 8 January

Ac2017D?_02The Adventures Global Aconcagua team met up in Mendoza on Friday. Yesterday they drove down to Penitentes and spent the night. This morning they will drive to Puente del Inca, before setting eyes on Aconcagua for the first time. Tomorrow morning, they will start their trek into Base Camp.

Monday 9 January

The team left Penitentes this morning and set off on their three-day trek into Plaza Argentina (Base Camp). Tonight they will camp at Pampa de Lenas (2950 metres), where the muleteers will prepare dinner for them. Their exciting journey is unfolding!

Tuesday 10 January

Today the Adventures Global team trekked from Pampa de Lenas to Casa de Piedra (3240 metres).The journey took about six hours. Tomorrow they will trek to Base Camp where we will get more information on how everyone is doing.

Thursday 12 January

Ac2017D?_11Yesterday the Adventures Global team left Casa de Piedra for Base Camp. They crossed the Vacas River early in the morning on the back of mules, and then made their way up the steep Relicho Slope before crossing another river. They could see Aconcagua in the distance, always looming. They arrived after about six hours of trekking. Today they will take time to settle into Plaza Argentina (4200 metres) and rest. If the weather plays along, they will do a load carry to Camp One tomorrow.

Sunday 15 January

Ac2017D?_15The Adventures Global Aconcagua team settled into Base Camp and, after some rest, did a load carry to Camp One, at 5000 metres. Right now we are not sure whether they have already moved to Camp One, but we will confirm this as soon as we hear from our local logistics. The attached pics depict some of the terrain they would have endured. We will report back soon.

Everest Base Camp: an unforgettable experience

Never in a million years did I think that I would find myself trekking to Everest Base Camp in 2016. I mean, ‘roughing it’ in my experience means not having my nails done every two weeks. I didn’t even have hiking boots. Or a sleeping bag. Or an idea of where Everest actually is

You can therefore understand my surprise (and the complete and utter disbelief of my family and friends) when I accepted an invitation to join my adventurous cousin on her second trip to Everest Base Camp. And to be honest, no one was more surprised than me. But you see, I couldn’t think of a good enough reason to say no. Every excuse I came up with was just that – an excuse. And at the very core of all my reasons not to go, was a deep knowing that it was time. Time to step outside the routine of day-to-day life, the labels of wife, mother, and friend, and see what I was made of.

So I said yes. And immediately sat down to google ‘Where is Everest?’ while having a mild panic attack! My mantra over the next few months became ‘I can do hard things!’ – during the long training walks, steep stair climbs and while shopping for my gear. This was something so completely out of character (and out of my comfort zone), that I needed to toughen up mentally before I even set foot on the plane. It wasn’t just about the physical training – I had to redefine my idea of who I was, to make space for the idea that I could be so much more.

And then we were off for what would later turn out to be the adventure of a lifetime. There were moments that my brain just couldn’t comprehend where I was and what I was doing. The flight into Lukla airport, crossing a suspension bridge with yaks coming in the opposite direction, the sheer majesty of the Himalayas, my first glimpse of Everest, reaching Namche Bazaar and not quite believing that I had managed (and loved) the steep climb, the breathtaking views around each corner, the quaint beauty of the teahouses, the Nepalese children running up and hugging us when we trekked through each village, the comaraderie with other trekkers, the altitude headaches, the many hours of being alone with my thoughts, the time and space to think – or not think, the simple pleasures of a hot shower and cup of tea.

Having just received a blessing from a Lama in Kathmandu for safe travels on the mountain.

Having just received a blessing from a Lama in Kathmandu for safe travels on the mountain.

The first of many cups of tea at beautiful tea houses along the trail.

The first of many cups of tea at beautiful tea houses along the trail.

We learnt to take these suspension bridges in our stride!

We learnt to take these suspension bridges in our stride!

Give way to the yaks at all times!

Give way to the yaks at all times!

It was like walking in a postcard. Every day.

It was like walking in a postcard. Every day.

See that village? That’s Namche Bazaar and we'd left there that morning!

See that village? That’s Namche Bazaar and we’d left there that morning!

There’s nothing like the sight of a porter carrying 45kgs of weight up the mountian to make you feel less tired!

There’s nothing like the sight of a porter carrying 45 kg up the mountain to make you feel less tired!

At times, it was like walking in a movie – and I had to remind myself that this was me. I was actually doing this. And loving it. The preconceived labels I had of ‘not being sporty’ and ‘not being outdoorsy’ and ‘being a bit of a princess’ no longer applied. I was a trekker!

The path seems to be a bit ... rocky.

The path seems to be a bit … rocky.

Just when you think it couldn’t get more beautiful. Sunset takes place.

Just when you think it couldn’t get more beautiful. Sunset takes place.

Breathtaking scenery around every corner.

Breathtaking scenery around every corner.

We never tired of the prayer flags and prayer wheels. The spirituality in Nepal is both humbling and inspiring.

We never tired of the prayer flags and prayer wheels. The spirituality in Nepal is both humbling and inspiring.

One of the many Stupas along the trail.

One of the many Stupas along the trail.

Highlights of the trip are too many to mention. Top of the list would be the spectacular views – words and photos can not to do justice to what we were privileged enough to witness. It’s astounding to think of nine days up to Everest Base Camp and four days down – all filled with jaw-dropping views.

Soaking up the beauty surrounding us!

Soaking up the beauty surrounding us!

The stark beauty of the landscape as we got closer to Base Camp.

The stark beauty of the landscape as we got closer to Base Camp.

And then there was Hupendra – our phenomenal guide. His wisdom and gentle guidance were invaluable, as was the attentiveness to our health, mental well-being, and making sure that we enjoyed each day to the full. Words cannot express the respect and appreciation I have for this man, how much we enjoyed his amazing sense of humour, and endless knowledge, and how integral he was to our experience on the mountain.

Hupendra finally gets defeated at UNO!

Hupendra finally gets defeated at UNO!

And then there’s that indescribable feeling of achievement – the tears on reaching Base Camp, that feeling of I did it, and that knowledge that life’s challenges would never seem quite as big as before. There’s a clarity that comes with this type of adventure that is hard to describe. Just a deep knowing that something has shifted and that something has changed – and that many more adventures await!

We did it – we made it to Base Camp!

We did it – we made it to Base Camp!

My enormous thanks to Ronnie Muhl, Lisa, Hupendra and the rest of the Adventures Global team for their attention to detail, on-tap advice and encouragement, incredible expertise and care. I cannot recommend this organisation – or trip – enough!

Shelli Nurcombe-Thorne
November 2016


The 2016 Bishops School EBC Trek

A Trek into the Base Camp of Everest with the Bishops School from Cape Town

By Mark Mitchell

Everest, a word that needs no explanation, a word that is associated with happiness, success, hardship, loneliness, defeat, trust, support, companionship, heroism, loss, failure, cold, fear, awe. A word that has dominated many people’s lives with an almost unquenchable thirst, a thirst for something that is different for every person who falls under the spell of Chomolungma.There are many things we do in our lives that numb us both to ourselves and to our surroundings, but Everest is not one of those things; it is its spirit that, without discrimination, challenges everyone (both physically and spiritually) who dares to walk in its foothills; physically because its enormity stands in a space foreign to our comfortable environment, and spiritually because of its overwhelming timeless presence in the Himalayas.

The Journey Begins

ev2016d1kathmandu_the-teamSo when we all arrived at Cape Town International airport on a sunny afternoon in March, I do not think that many of the travellers really knew what course-work, what life-degree, we all were embarking on and how we all, both internally and externally, were about to have our GPS coordinates altered for good.
Arriving in Kathmandu (at 1420 m), was like stepping into another world, a world of chaos, but paradoxically with sense of self-created order, of new shades and colours, smells and sights, but all with an intense sense of richness through longevity. Swayambhunath (the monkey temple), with its commanding views of Kathmandu, was our first stop after we had settled into the wonderful Yak and Yeti Hotel, home to most of the Everest summiteers each year. We went from there to the Hindu Pashupatinath and its sacred temple complex on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. We spent a wonderful two days getting to know Thamel and then early on Day Four we headed to the Kathmandu airport to catch our flight to Lukla (which is regarded as one of the most dangerous airports in the world in part because of the edgy landing on the shortest runway imaginable). From there it was on our way to our first stop on the trek, Phakding (2600 m). This gentle downhill walk of about four hours was not a good indicator of what was about to come! The next morning, we set off early for Namche Bazaar (3440 m) along a route that took us along the banks of the Dudh Kosi River,
crossing many of the famous prayer flag laden bridges. Yaks and humans jostled for bridge space – the yaks always won the ‘negotiation’! The day was physically challenging with many extremely steep, seemingly endless, uphill pushes, but the surprise and awe-inspiring sight of a town securely perched on a side of a mountain made the painful and self-doubting memories of the day melt. We spent two wonderful days in Namche Bazaar with an acclimatisation walk on the second day. This walk took us past the Everest View Hotel where, while reclining on their patio in the sun having the homely lemon tea and biscuits, we were afforded our first and most spectacular views of Everest.

A Lesson on Hillary

ebc2016d6_the-team-at-the-memorial-inside-the-first-school-established-by-sir-edmund-hillaryWe trekked from the hotel to Khumjung – a town very close to Hillary’s heart, where he built one of his first schools. It is a gentle town, safely nestled between the mountains, but with Ama Dablam watching powerfully over it! The return journey offered the most spectacular view of Namche Bazaar. Having arrived back, we headed towards one of the entertainment spaces where we watched an extremely moving documentary about Hillary’s life, with a particular focus on the effect that the loss of his wife and child had on him and his family. There was also moving footage of Norgay and his feeling of disappointment at the end of his life with regard to his regret at ever having summited
The following day we started the slow but hectic climb out of Namche Bazaar heading towards Tengboche (3870 m), reaching it after another long push up a seemingly endless steep hill, and reaching the monastery around 4 pm. By then, the weather was coming in and everyone was starting to feel the biting cold – so we spent little time in Tengboche and headed down the other side of the saddle to Debuche – a wonderful spot at a teahouse surrounded by a forest of birches and rhododendrons.
The rest of the day was spent warming up in the cosy teahouse with an amazing view of the mountains; the weather only allowed us intermittent sneak views of what still lay ahead for us. The evening was filled with reliving the past few days, sharing stories, discussing oxygen saturation levels and rather loud and competitive card games!

On to Pheriche

Early the next morning we all gathered outside soaking up every square inch of sunlight and then headed for our next stop at Pheriche (4240 m). After about an hour of walking, we crossed the Imja Khola (one of the large rivers which drains the slopes of Everest) on a makeshift suspension bridge, the original one having been recently washed away. We then made our way up the mountain towards Pangboche. Here we experienced one of the highlights of the trek, and that was an audience with Lama Geshi. He blessed each member of the group with the usual rice, ‘orange rope’ and prayer. It was a moving experience for most of us – despite our extremely contrasting cultures, all of us felt the reverence of the space, a space that was naturally peaceful and somehow lacking in tension. The focus of the ceremony was not on our differences of background, but rather on a desire to bless people and, in particular, to ask for both safety in journeys and understanding for all – something I suddenly realised was not a religious concept, but rather a universal desire and the fundamental philosophy that holds us as human beings together, no matter our backgrounds or creeds.
On our arrival in Pheriche we experienced the first snow of the trek – resulting in the ‘highly charged’ but obligatory snow fight. We spent two days there in order to allow the acclimatisation process to take its course. On our rest day in Pheriche, we climbed the surrounding mountain in the morning and then headed back to the warm dining room and all the associated comforts of the Himalayan Lodge.
In the early evening we visited the Himalayan Rescue Association’s Trekkers’ Aid Post. This centre attracts world-renowned physicians who acquire data to analyse the effects of high altitude on human physiology. While visiting them we were given a comprehensive talk around High Altitude sickness by two doctors from Sweden. This also gave us an opportunity as a group to chat about it – something that is constantly on one’s mind when trekking in the Himalaya!

Memorial Hill

The next morning, after saying goodbye to one of the members of our group who was suffering from altitude sickness symptoms, we packed and headed for Lobuche (4930 m) in the most outrageous wind. The first part of the day was a stroll along a beautiful flat valley for about an hour and then we started the climb to a small village called Duglha (4620 m), stopping for the traditional mid-morning tea and biscuits, and then moving towards one of the most special places along the trip – Memorial Hill. The panoramic view of the Himalayas from this point gives you a true sense of the enormity of the range. Standing there and viewing this is probably one of the most humbling things one can do and certainly makes one rethink ones importance as human beings in the great scheme of things!
ebc2016d7_31-heading-up-to-memorial-hillThis hill is home to many stone memorials for climbers who have perished on nearby summits. The space is simple and quiet, but one which holds a deep sense of tranquillity and peace. Standing there, looking at the view of the Himalayas and the honouring memorials, one is just struck by the deep relationship that still exists between man and nature and of man’s fundamental desire to exist side by side with nature but, at the same time, his strange desire to somehow conquer it.
The following day we started our walk up the western side of the Khumbu Valley heading towards Gorak Shep, crossing rather rough and unforgiving glacier moraine which becomes steeper and steeper as one moves closer to Gorak Shep. By this stage many of us were now really beginning to feel the effects of the altitude making the day seem longer and harder than normal. Arriving at midday in Gorak Shep, a number of the members of the group then packed backpacks to begin their climb of Kala Pattar (meaning ‘black rock’). Kala Pattar sits comfortably at 5545 m at the base of Gorak Shep and provides the brave climber the most spectacular view of Everest on the trek.

And we reach Base Camp

ebc2016d12_base-camp-the-boys2The next morning, after seeing another two members of the group being airlifted from Gorak Shep (with amazing emergency response speed) due to altitude issues, we packed up and started the walk up the Khumbu Glacier into Everest Base Camp, which is situated at the base of the Khumbu Icefall. Base Camp itself is very spread out, and is littered with various coloured tents from all the different expeditions. We were extremely lucky to be able to experience something that the normal trekker is not able to do and that is to spend two nights in Base Camp proper. This was only possible for us due to the fact that Ronnie Muhl allowed us to use the Adventures Global expedition team’s camp, for the time we were there.
ebc2016d12_base-camp-cakeThe two days spent in Base Camp were ones of comparative luxury: just relaxing, eating, sleeping, talking, games, singing (very impressive from the boys side) and a time to take in the enormity of the challenge that climbers face in attempting to summit Everest. It also gave us all a small understanding of the day-to-day life of the teams in Base Camp and the incredible support system that is required to attempt to ensure the safety of all climbers. The food that was prepared for us during this time really could have come from a five-star restaurant and not from the small tent next to our tent – we were even treated to a fully baked iced sponge cake welcoming us to Base Camp – this being given a major thumbs up, even by the ‘foodies’ in our group!

ebc2016d12_base-camp-bishops-flagHeading back

Thank you to Adventures Global and in particular to Ronnie Muhl and Elizabeth Bool and also to both Dawa and Hupendra for the incredible support and organisation around our trek – we are all extremely grateful to you all for the opportunities you afforded us.