I’ve often thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome to climb Everest!’ and then carried on about my business, forgetting the notion immediately. Well, one of the Down2Earth Team, Colette O Donoghue is a lady who doesn’t just think about things, but actually goes and does them! We are all SO proud of her for taking on this incredible challenge, and we love that she took a compostable cup on her journey to the top!!
Read all about her recent Everest Adventure in this blog, and what better way to read about it than in her own words.
On Sunday 03rd March, 12 Childaid Trekkers flew out from Dublin with Nepal being the destination. I don’t think the enormity of what we were about to do really hit us until we flew from Kathmandu to Lukla where our trek began. Lukla Airport is famed for having one of the shortest runways in the world, so taking off and landing from here was quite an experience in itself.
So Tuesday, we started off on our adventure, all fresh faced and full of enthusiasm. As it was the start of the hiking season there wasn’t much in the way of “traffic” but we met many locals and sherpas on the way. Our first evening saw us reach Phakding at 2610 meters, after crossing our first of many suspension bridges. For me personally, this was one of the biggest challenges. I would never have said that I was afraid of heights, but these bridges definitely tested me. So we went off to get rested for the early start in the morning. On Wednesday night we arrived to Namche at 3440m. This is the most populated and “advanced” of the places that we stopped in. It was a bustling little town where we even had a chance to do some shopping. We stayed here for an extra day to help with the acclimatisation. But that did not for one second mean a rest day. We still got out on the trail and visited Khumjung, which is a village that is patroned by the great Edmund Hillary. In this village there is also a monastery that holds a Yeti Scalp, yes a yeti scalp, it was interesting to say the least. Lunch this day was had at the Worlds Highest Hotel, The Everest View. Usually from here you would get a great view of the mountain itself but unfortunately for us there was too much cloud that day to get any proper view. So back to Namche it was for us to take it easy for the evening. The following days all seemed to blend into one, lots of steep inclines, followed by some declines which you wouldn’t expect. They were all great until you realised that you would have to face them on the way back. We passed lots of Yaks on the way. I suppose you could say they look like fluffy cattle or buffalos. They were used to carry supplies up the mountain to the little villages along the way. They also supply the milk and dairy produce, but the taste from the yak milk and cheese is definitely not something that my palette appreciated! Those next few days saw us gradually increase in altitude with stop overs in Tengboche (3860m), Dingboche (4410m) & Lobuche (4910m). It was on one of these days that we had to cross one of the Highest Suspension Bridges in the World. I must admit that I nearly had a bit of a melt down at this point, but thanks to our leader I was guided over much to my relief. On the day that we left Dingboche for Lobuche it started to snow. Usually we would cheer at the sight of snow at home, and we were all oohing and aahing when it started here too, but we soon realised that the extra snow made it extra cold, and also made it that bit tougher to walk uphill and get a proper grip on the terrain. But this wasn’t to deter us…onward and upwards. We were glad to reach Lobuche that night though, and it for me was one of the best nights sleep that I had there. It was at this stage that some of the group started to feel the effects of the dreaded altitude sickness. Some of the symptoms ranged from headaches to nausea, but we were lucky in that no one suffered extremely from it. The following morning had us all up bright and early and there was an increased buzz in the group as this was the day we were heading for Base Camp. At about 11 we arrived to Gorak Shep (5140m). Here we had a quick lunch to set us up for the last stretch. It was also here at this camp that I suffered altitude sickness myself; splitting headaches, dizziness and nausea/vomiting. It was a struggle to move off from here, but the end goal was in sight so we all moved on. The group setting was really great because everyone encouraged each other, and helped one another is someone was struggling.
Finally at 2.20pm on Monday 11th March, we finally made it to Base Camp (5364m). Words cant even really express what I felt on arriving here. I think it was a mixture of absolute joy, relief, amazement, proudness and complete awe of the beauty of the whole place. Of course we had the obligatory photo call…just to prove that we were there of course! We were one very happy group on our trek back to Gorak Shep, and it was made even better that all 12 of the group made it. It was such a great achievement for us. But our adventure didn’t end here…
You see you cannot actually get a view of Everest from Everest Base Camp strangely enough! And we couldn’t leave the trip without a proper up close view of the mountain itself. So off we went, at 4am in the morning, head torches attached, in an almost pilgrimage like procession up to the top of Kala Patthar (5550m). This was a particularly difficult trek, extremely cold, very dark and it seemed to go on forever. Thankfully we finally made it here, and just in time for Sunrise. The sight of this completely made up for the tiredness. It was just gorgeous, to see the sun coming up over the back of Everest. And from here you also had a 360 degree view of all the other mountains on that range. It really was breathtaking. So once the fingers had thawed out a little bit we got another few snaps for the photo album and headed back to base again. As you can imagine the trip back was much quicker and every ones’ spirits were at an all time high. It really was such a great atmosphere, everyone laughing and joking again. The entire trek took 11 days, and I can tell you that the Beer that we had on arriving back to Lukla was one of the most enjoyable that I have ever had, well deserved I suppose.
We were lucky enough to have a few days at the end of our trip for a bit of relaxation in Kathmandu if that’s what you could call it. Kathmandu is an experience in itself, it is absolutely a bustling city but you would take your own life in your hands on the roads, and there are no paths as such, everything just all seems to be up in a heap.
St Patricks Day also fell while we over there, and what better way to spend it but on the Trisuli River white water rafting. This was such good fun and just what the group needed. Of course we did have one or 2 drinks to celebrate the day too in true Irish Style.
The last experience of the trip was our visit to the Orphanage & School. This was such a humbling moment, to meet all the children who live in compete poverty and who are without parents. But their attitude and optimism is just amazing. Just to see their enthusiasm at our visit, it was brilliant. They were so excited to show us around their school and to meet their teachers. We even had a little game of soccer. But this is what the trip is all about. We are fundraisers, for Childaid! This is firsthand where the funds go. It is heartbreaking to see the kids, but it is good to know that our funds are making some bit of a difference to their lives. It was one of the highlights of the whole trip for me.
So there you go, a very quick sum up of the trip, a trip of a lifetime without a doubt and one that I would do again in the morning if I had the chance. It is not something that you would do lightly as a relative level of fitness is needed, but it is not that out of reach as a lot of people seem to think. Watch this space for my next adventure…….
WELL DONE COLETTE!!!!!!!!! CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE ENTAILS!!!!