A group of 26 Kiwis are currently on the adventure of a lifetime as they set out to reach Everest Base Camp on May 29 – the 65th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s historic ascent.
Their 19-day trek through the mountains will include time volunteering at a local school and helping build a safe water system at the remote village of Musey.
Two of the trekkers, Helen and Anita, are blogging from the trail to tell us all about their personal experience as they go.
We reached Everest Base Camp at 5360m on the 65th anniversary of Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary’s historic first ascent.
It was a great achievement after about a week of steady climbing. Quite a few of us were feeling the effects of the altitude but also feeling in high spirits from reaching the pinnacle of our journey.
As the trip moves on part of you longs for a hot shower and clean clothes and sheets. But another part of you never wants to leave these mountains and the joy of being outside every day. Just this morning we came across our World Expeditions crew singing and dancing in the dining room! They really make this trip the great journey it us for us.
Trekkers in the news! 29 May
I’ve put this off, because I don’t know how to describe it! – Helen, 29 May
I’ve put off writing this blog post for a few days (as our new friends in the tour group can attest to!) simply because I don’t quite know how to describe such an incredible, life-changing experience in a few paragraphs.
Our journey began rather unexpectedly. We spent a whole day waiting at Kathmandu Airport for a flight out to Lukla. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t co-operating, so we ended up having to book a fleet of helicopters the following day to taxi us up.
The flight did not disappoint, that’s for sure! Each time we passed a tall mountain, the next one was only taller. No photos or videos we took could accurately capture the huge expanse of rolling hills spread out before us.
After landing in Lukla we had just enough time for a quick look around and a wee bite to eat before we set off for the village of Chaurikharka. We were met at Mahendra Jyoti School by the head master who explained how the village had been devastated by the earthquakes in 2015 but, with support from the Himalayan Trust, the school had recovered very well.
As a school teacher at home, it was most interesting to listen to how the school and teachers were on a collective journey to further advance their Literacy Programmes. It made my teacher heart happy to hear that the Himalayan Trust was working to help teachers see the value of a more integrated approach through small group instruction rather than teaching in isolated subjects.
It was such a treat for us to spend some time in the classrooms and what a joy those children are! I felt privileged to teach a reading and writing lesson in a Grade One class based around the old NZ classic ‘Hairy Maclary’. I made sure to save some time at the end to practise some basic poi moves (with poi that I had lugged around in my back pack since leaving Auckland!) which ended up being a big crowd pleaser.
The best part though was taking individual photos of all the children using my Polaroid camera which a friend had suggested I take along. I told the children it was ‘magic’ and that their photo would appear if they kept blowing on it. I saw some of those same children walking home from school several hours later and they were still blowing on their photo (lest the magic disappear, of course!)
In the following days we also visited Musey village to help with the building of a water system, Khumjung Secondary School and Khundi Hospital.
Without exception, every representative thanked us for our involvement with the Himalayan Trust and urged us to pass on their thanks to everyone who had donated back at home.
No blog post about hiking through the Solukhumbu region would be complete without mention of the truly majestic surroundings we are treated to each day.
Every day I say “today was my favourite day!” and without fail the next day exceeds it by far.
A few days ago, after huffing and puffing our way up a seemingly never-ending hill for almost seven hours, we turned a corner and there she was! Mt Everest! What a sight she was peaking out between the clouds while we walked through the native Rhododendron forest. It will be a sight I hold dear for a very long time, indeed.
Since then we have seen many of the mammoth 8000m peaks including Lhotse and Makalu. I could pinch myself every morning when I gaze up at these mountains that seem almost unreal.
Finally, I simply must give a big shout out to our World Expeditions group leaders, sherpa guides, porters and kitchen boys. We have been waited on hand and foot! To think how hard these men work just to make sure all 26 of us have the trip of a life time is genuinely astounding.
The people of Nepal are so hospitable and I have been blown away by the good nature, generosity and kindness of these people. Something else I believe our two nations have in common.
Should you ever find an opportunity in front of you to visit Nepal and the Himalayas – don’t think twice! You won’t regret it.
A real sense of Sir Ed’s impact – Anita, 26 May
Today we reached the village of Dingboche at 4350m. The last few days of hiking have been stunning. You would not believe the view from our camp overlooking the village of Namche.
After leaving Namche, we passed through beautiful rhododendron forest to reach Khumjung and Khunde.
We spent some time at Khumjung School, which has the original schoolroom that was built by Sir Ed in 1961. The school was celebrating its 57th anniversary. Our group was special guests at a concert with entertaining cultural Nepali dances by the school kids. There were also prizes for students including most clean, best attendance and discipline!
Listening to the speeches at this concert as well as a talk given to us later the same day by Dr Kami of the Kunde Hospital, built by Sir Ed in 1966, you really get a strong sense of just how much Sir Ed has impacted generations of the lives of Sherpa people.
Yesterday we visited the Tengboche monastery and were lucky enough to witness a monk chanting ceremony.
Now we’re all sitting round in the dining room and relaxing whilst our tour leader Prasant plays his guitar.
This continues to be an amazing trip!
We are now in Namche at 3440m above sea level. The trip has been absolutely amazing so far.
Our flight from Kathmandu to Lukla was delayed the first day so we ended up getting a helicopter the next day, which was stunning! The staff and everyone on the trip are wonderful people. You wouldn’t believe the meals the staff put on for us. They are very caring, humble, wise and love a good joke.
We spent a couple of days volunteering at the school in Chaurikharka. I spent one day in a classroom reading stories to the kids. They are super bright fun kids. You wouldn’t believe they know four languages: English, Nepali and two local languages.
I brought some balloons as a present and at one stage had about a hundred kids running towards me in the playground, all keen for one.
We also spent a day moving rocks to help with the construction of computer room.To spice up the chain gang fun we learned how to say “small, medium, or long rock coming” in Nepali. This also proved useful when trekking the following days once we learned the terms for “mule coming” and “yak coming”. The experience has been amazing so far and I’m very grateful.
“Adventure is out there” – Helen, 14 May
We’re currently eight hours into the first leg of our flight to Kathmandu, Nepal. It’s hard to believe that just 10 months ago I talked my partner into signing up to the Himalayan Trust Trek to Everest Base Camp. He thought it was another one of my crazy ideas, and probably thought I was a little mad when I told him that I’d already put the deposit down and there was no backing out now!
At the time, 10 months seemed like plenty of time to prepare ourselves for 19 days of hiking at altitude, plenty of time to get our gear sorted and most of all, plenty of time to get used to the idea of leaving our six-year old daughter at home with Nana for five weeks.
Yet, here I am on this long flight wondering if I’ll be fit enough, if I’ve packed everything I need, and whether the internet connection will be strong enough in those remote Himalayan villages to Skype our little girl.
Far outweighing those persistent jitters though is an awesome feeling of excitement. In a couple of days we’ll be meeting up with the rest of our tour group in Kathmandu before flying into Lukla airport, the gateway to the Everest region.
As part of our itinerary we’ll be spending some time in the villages of Chaurikharka and Musey, helping out with a few projects currently being undertaken by the Himalayan Trust.
I’m a primary school teacher in South Auckland and the idea of visiting a small rural school that had been devastated by the earthquakes in 2015 was a really big draw card for me.
I’ve heard so much about the grace and kindness of the Sherpa and Nepalese people. I can’t wait to get off the beaten track and mix with the locals.
I think the absolute highlight of this trip for me though will be arriving at Everest Base Camp on the 65th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary’s ascent. To think we will be trekking through the same valleys, staring up at the same snowy peaks as such an iconic pioneer, a true New Zealand icon, will truly be a dream come true.
Our young and very wise daughter made me a poster a few weeks ago and in fancy, rainbow lettering she had scrawled across the top “Adventure Is Out There!” It sure is, and I’m so looking forward to starting this adventure of a lifetime.
The most astounding landscapes in the world – Anita, 13 May
I first heard about the Himalayan Trust in 2015 when I did some fundraising following the Nepal earthquakes. My friend Amy and I got people to sponsor us to walk up and down Mt Victoria in Wellington. When I heard about this trek late last year it really piqued my interest as my parents and other friends had spoken so highly of travelling in Nepal. It stuck with me and before I knew, it I’d signed up!
Over the past few months I’ve loved getting outdoors, walking every weekend in the hills around Wellington and listening to podcasts or having great conversations with friends along the way.
Everyone taking part in the trek also raises funds for the Himalayan Trust’s work. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of people donating to my fundraising page and coming to a movie fundraising night that I held at Cuba Light House cinema (even if the movie The Mercy was a bit harrowing at times!).
I leave in just a few days. It hasn’t hit me yet at all that I’m about to be surrounded by some of the most astounding landscapes in the world. I’m a bit nervous about the fitness and altitude but I can’t wait to meet my fellow hikers and our Nepali crew and start on this amazing adventure.
I recently decided to have a bit of a change career-wise, so I think this will also be a great chance to ponder life and next steps up high in the mountains.
Well-known Christchurch street artist Wongi Wilson, whose striking murals are visible throughout Christchurch, is also taking part in the anniversary trek. To mark the 65th anniversary, Wongi teamed up with our partner Kathmandu to create a fantastic limited edition Artist Series T-shirt. $5 from each t-shirt sold in NZ will be donated to the Himalayan Trust.
Buy yours today in store or online at kathmandu.co.nz
Thank you to all our trekkers
All the trekkers are also helping raise funds towards the Himalayan Trust’s work to bring quality education, safe water and better healthcare to remote communities in the Everest region.