20 October 2022: Trek to Everest Base Camp
Today’s speaker was a young woman we sponsored to trek to Everest Base Camp to raise funds for Marie Curie. The pie chart she displayed onscreen showed that we accounted for 8.8% of the total sponsorship she raised.
She was part of a team from Swansea University. Teams from two other British universities joined them. They flew to Kathmandu and from there by a local plane to what she described as the most dangerous airfield in the world, with a runway only just over 500 metres long. (Heathrow’s runway is nearly 4,000 metres long.) They were lucky. The weather had been too misty for flying but it lifted in time for their journey.
They stayed overnight in a hotel in the town they landed at before beginning a series of daily treks higher into the Himalayas. They had three guides and nine porters. Those on the trek were limited to 10 kg of baggage but this was carried up by the porters, each porter carrying three or four.
The accommodation was fairly uniform in the different places. There was a central dining room with stone walls and a fire. They slept in two-person bedrooms with plywood walls, the overnight temperature in the rooms dropping to -8° C. They slept in their clothes.
The menu was identical in each place. There was porridge and potatoes for breakfast and something with potatoes for all the other meals. The meals contained no protein or fibre but there were shops selling snacks, at expensive prices. (Everest Base Camp had a shop selling KitKats.)
The path was not too difficult and the climbing could be undertaken with normal walking clothes and boots. Care had to be taken towards the end, when they were walking on glaciers. They were surprised to discover these were grey instead of white. As they walked on the glaciers they could see bits of ice breaking away.
Two members of the group had to be taken down before the end because of altitude sickness. The rest got to Everest Base Camp but were not allowed stop there overnight. There were no climbers on the mountain because it was not the climbing season.
The day after visiting Everest Base Camp the group climbed a nearby peak - or tried to. Only twelve members, including including our speakers, made it.
They then made their way back down the path in a series of daily stages. They were delighted to get back to the town and have their first showers for ten days.
By then the mist had come down again and planes couldn’t fly into the airport. The alternative would have been to hire a helicopter at additional cost. However, the guides woke them at 4 o’clock in the morning with instructions to get dressed and into the plane without delay as the mist had lifted briefly and the plane had arrived to take them back to Kathmandu.