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

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