It was 2014, I had a good job but it felt like my career had gone flat. I had a happy, healthy child and husband. But like many of you we were feeling the financial pressure of living in an expensive city (actually all cities are like this).
My life felt kind of monotonous; work hard at the office, dashing through rush hour traffic to my son’s childcare, homework, dinner, and then working on the lap top till bed time.
I’d love to say weekends were relaxing, but throw in more work, constant kids parties and endless chores. This certainly wasn’t the case.
It felt like something was missing in my life. I spoke to my husband about how I was feeling.
He suggested that I start thinking about a new goal or initiative which could raise my happiness levels and make me feel more fulfilled.
In a moment of madness, I did something crazy (and a tad selfish), I booked a trip to Everest Base Camp. Yep, I carelessly didn’t consult a soul, not even my family.
My husband nearly fell off his chair when I gave him the news. He nervously smiled, and then fired a barrage of questions.
How much did it cost? Who would do school pick up and drop off? How long would I be away for? Was I fit enough? Did my life insurance cover if I died from altitude sickness (ok maybe not the last one)?
I organized my gear, had my shots and wore in my super sturdy hiking boots. The latter certainly didn’t look overly cool at my son’s football matches on a Saturday morning.
Training, yeah, well, let’s talk about that! I’m a bit of a weird fish. It should really have been common sense to train like crazy for the altitude shock coming my way.
I was foolish, and you guessed it, too busy. I only managed one significant training session, and even that turned into a bit of a family comedy.
Along with my dad, husband and brother, we decided to have a crack at a 35 km hike across a Sydney mountain range. The weather was expected to be pretty cool and take around 9 hours to complete. We took over 12 hours, it ended up being roasting and we ran out of water.
To add to the chaos, we were forced to cross an ice cold river because of my hubbie’s fear of crossing Indiana Jones style rope bridges. My Dad’s back seized up mid- afternoon, I somehow managed to fall into the deepest possible sleep on one of our sweat drinks breaks, further delaying our motely crew advances.
I will lie and say my husband confidence levels were sky high about the Everest trip. He then got me thinking about the recent earthquakes that had hit Nepal. There had been so much damage.
Would I even be able to trek? Was I bonkers? Even if I couldn’t, it was money to the local economy which they badly needed.
Right time to get psyched, I pulled out Jon Krakauer’s novel – Into thin Air.
There was no way I wasn’t doing it!
I blinked at Sydney Airport, the next thing I was travelling through Kathmandu.
Three words; Busy, Dusty, Dirty.
Thamel was chaos, the roads were even dirtier. Every type of vendor possible wanted you to be their next customer. I was offered everything from climbing gear, to fake dvd’s, and one kind soul even thought I’d might be in the market for a block of hashish.
I thanked the gods for Kathmandu Guest House, my simple oasis. I slept well that night. I needed to be awake the next morning before the roosters.
I briefly met my group and guide at ridiculous o’clock and we headed to the airport. A light air plane to Lukla, aka the world’s most dangerous airport.
We waited, and waited. Flights were being cancelled left, right and center. It was too cloudy and dangerous to fly. My emotions were all over the show.
Around lunch time our flight got called, our guide had convinced the airline to fly us to an airstrip about 15mins away from Lukla. We would spend the night there and fly again the next morning, weather permitting.
The world’s most dangerous airport happened to be the most exciting. Many were convinced we were about to fly into the side of the mountain. We survived, the somber reality is others haven’t.
Lukla was cool, we grabbed brekky, decidedly average eggs and toast with tea.
I had read that Sagamatha was sacred. They don’t kill animals above Lukla, so if we ate meat it had to be today. Otherwise a risk of extended sick bay.
I had been careful with everything so far, food, water, washing hands, the whole caboodle.
Then without over thinking it, our trek commenced.
I was ok for the first few hours, then smash, I suddenly had what felt like the world’s worst headache. I asked for a Panadol, our sherpas and guides saw a red flag. I started feeling like I might be sick but I was determined to keep going. Then it happened. I threw up.
Everyone was worried I had altitude sickness. I felt weird.
The next 3-4 hours of walking were a blurry pattern, 10 steps and vomit.
Thank goodness I had caring people walking with me, the Sherpas and guides were amazing. They took my day pack off; I was relieved to be carrying nothing but my water bottle.
It was horrible, I felt horrible, but I was determined to keep going.
When we got to our accommodation that night, everyone else had dinner. I went to bed. I was restless during the night, I kept being sick. The head guide said I didn’t have to continue, they could take me back.
NO WAY WAS I LETTING THAT HAPPEN!
The next morning, I met the group for breakfasts before heading off.
I had to fake being well to get the official green light to keep going.
The next stop was Namche Bazaar. We were staying 2 nights with a rest day thrown in. I went all Anthony Robbins, I would make it, not I could make it.
I was the slowest in my group but didn’t care. No energy does that to you. I forgot to take photos. And boy do I love taking photos.
I did it, words can’t explain how amazing my hot shower reward was.
We did acclimatization hikes and moved on through Namche, Phortse Gaon, Dingboche, Lobuche. Everest Base Camp was our next and final destination.
I think if I didn’t get sick I wouldn’t have actually found the trekking too hard. The day we trekked to base camp, the excitement in the group was noticeably building.
The scenery on the final ascent, even coming from a Kiwi was a continual pinch me moment. It didn’t matter that I was sick, tired, cold, my hair stank and I was wearing vomit.
But the girl did it, she’s made it. Time to breathe it all in. Hello Mount Everest base camp!
When I returned to Sydney, I was so glad I did it, all the pain, vomit and worry was completely worth it. I cannot wait till my 8-year-old is big enough. I’d love to do the trek with him. Who knows we could even go crazy and have a crack at the top.