Apparently I’m going to Nepal and trekking up to Everest Base Camp. Read that with an inflection of disbelief and you’ll hear just how it sounds in my brain as the thought flickers by throughout the day. I am not someone who climbs mountains. I avoid camping. And though I may have my Colorado citizenship revoked for revealing this, I’ve hiked exactly one 14-er (14,000 ft. mountain, of which Colorado has more than any other state) in my life.
But several months ago a casual friend included my husband and I on an e-mail blast invitation to his next trip to Nepal. He’s a national-level photographer, and as circumstances worked it, my husband had a break at work just when the trip was scheduled.
Still we debated, hemmed and hawed about the decision because it felt so BIG. Most of our international travel has been through work, or with groups; other people handled things like emergency medical arrangements, Visas, and transit. And neither of us know anything about trekking at that altitude.
After some long talks with our friend we agreed to join him, and it started to feel exciting, since it would just be the three of us along with our porters and a local guide. I liked the idea of hiring our own people and avoiding the sherpa abuse that has been happening when so many Western travelers book through tour companies. I refuse to support that!
We’ll be following the course that leads to the right on this map:
The trip will begin with a flight into Kathmandu and a day spent resting and preparing. Then we’ll take a small plane to Lukla airport, rated the most dangerous airport in the world by the History Channel on their show Most Extreme Airports. The trek will be nine days, including a night at Base Camp and reaching an altitude of 18,500 feet as we cross Kala Patthar.
This is the view of Everest from Kala Patthar:
I have many things to address to prepare for this experience. I have a lot to learn about trekking gear, and we have a lot to purchase. I have a fairly decent fitness base, but I’d be happy (and more comfortable) if I dropped 20 pounds or so. Obviously that’s not going to happen in a month, so I’m going to focus on building up my legs and lungs to give myself the best chance at comfort and success.
I also have some personal issues I’ll be grapple with that I’m going to be very transparent about as I prepare.
- I have severe anxiety over…well over almost anything… but especially over new things like flying around the world to do something that I’m not confident or comfortable doing and holding back everyone else on the team.
- I have a long-term back injury that is not insignificant and that causes me daily pain, and I need to prepare for how I’m going to handle that on the mountain, and I need to be doing what I can to strong myself up!
- I have a higher than average amount of cardiac PVCs – the skipped/double beats that feel like a frog is bouncing in your chest. Some days I feel nauseous because that frog is just having a dance party. Though PVCs are benign, they can cause problems if they come in more than threes, and they can precursor other conditions. I’m going to get things checked out one more time before I undertake this kind of activity in a remote location.
I’m thrilled for this experience, and recognize the opportunity for the blessing that it is. I look forward to sharing the journey from desert to crest.