A Journey Of Self-Discovery To Everest Base Camp
03 July 2018

A Journey Of Self-Discovery To Everest Base Camp

By Samantha Tan Chiew Tieng Samantha Tan, Bernama's journalist recently accomplished her dreams of getting as far as the Everest Base Camp in an extreme expedition where she had to endure the extreme cold, the challenging ice covered terrain and her own anxieties. KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 (Bernama) -- The 130-kilometer round trip trekking route to Everest Base Camp (EBC), which is often dubbed as "the steps to heaven" will literally take anyone's breath away! Either by the magnificent view of the surrounding mountains or the acute mountain sickness (AMS) due to the high altitude. At 5,365 meters above sea level, EBC is in every serious trekker's bucket list. It is a priceless experience to stand and leave behind one's footprints at the foothill of the world's tallest mountain, Mount Everest, that stands at 8,848 meters. Mount Everest is located in the Khumbu region of Nepal. Getting to EBC is a challenge, it is not only the steep elevation that poses a serious challenge but also the mountain sickness that could kill even well prepared trekkers. Hence for many, getting a good look at Mount Everest from a distance will suffice. ADVENTURE BEGINS However, I decided to give it a go. Hence, I was on a 11-day EBC expedition with 15 trekkers from Happy Hikers KL (a hiking group) from April 29 to May 10. The group picked Alpine Club of Himalaya, a well-established trekking company in Nepal, that provides professional guides and helps guests to prepare themselves for the extreme undertaking. The trip was not just about trekking, accomplishing a dream or merely sightseeing. For me it is all about pushing my abilities to the limits and put to test the spirit of camaraderie within the hiking group. I was lucky enough to complete the EBC expedition without having to struggle with AMS unlike many of the team members who had a tough time with the high altitude condition. Due to the AMS, some became delusional, some regretted why they embarked on the expedition in the first place and even worse some felt that the mountain is going to be their final resting place. Thank God, I must say most of my team mates accomplished their dreams of reaching EBC despite going through the awful experience with AMS. I pushed myself to the limits believing that the mind is much stronger than the body in face of adversities. It was extremely cold and dry where the temperature then was -17 degrees Celcius. At that altitude one gets tired easily and suffers from sleep deprivation due to the low oxygen environment. One also suffers from severe exhaustion due to the brisk and long walks over extreme ice and rock covered gradients that can go on up to eight hours a day. At that altitude, hikers also face increased exposure to the sun and hence suffer from severe sunburns. Each time when I found that the hurdles were overbearing, I kept reminding myself trekking is not about putting one foot in front of the other but is more about enjoying yourself throughout the entire journey and witness the nature's beauty along the way. ENGAGING WITH NATURE "Never rush, stay hydrated and most importantly enjoy the journey because it is a conversation between you and the nature," were among the comforting words from Akhilesh Upadhyay, who is also the chief editor of Kathmandu Post, whom I had met earlier in China. His words gave me the strength and courage to finish what I started. It's true enough when he told me that "why rush...? there is no trophy awaiting you at the teahouse" (or known as small lodges) that is available along the trekking route. While it is true that the route to EBC is much easier than getting to the Everest peak, but for a novice like me it is still a Herculean challenge. For me, to have a rewarding and comfortable journey, the best thing to do is listen to your body, walk and climb at your own pace while enjoying the amazing views along the track. Of course never miss a photo opportunity of the panorama there that will forever be etched in one's memory. REACHING THE EBC It was a great relief to reach the EBC, with the Everest within our sight. Suddenly I felt "Wow is this the end or our trekking". There was a burst of energy within me and for a while I thought why not coutinue to the Everest summit. It was a wonderful feeling to reach the ECB after enduring difficult conditions throughout. More than anything else, it is a journey of discovery for me and my team mates. At every step best friends are made, strength is put to test, tolerance increased, character is built and life is appreciated. From this expedition, I learnt that there is sweetness in every struggle. It is similar to the ups and downs in life. That little struggle makes us stronger and helps us to lead a meaningful life, and cherish every moment whether good or bad. With some extra effort, one will definitely see the fruits of our labour. Just like how I reached EBC, and whatever unpleasant experience just fades away (photoBERNAMA). -- BERNAMA