In our Backbeat section, Nimesh Shah, Head Maven, Windchimes Communications, recounts his fascinating trek to Everest Base Camp and the lessons he learnt from it
By Nimesh Shah
Head Maven, Windchimes Communications
Last April saw me completing two years of my momentous trek to the Everest Base Camp (EBC) in Nepal in 2015. I had first read about it on a blog written by a single mom who managed to ace the trek with her nine-year-old. (How’s that for inspiration!)
Until then, my infrequent weekend treks were limited to the Sahyadris of Maharashtra during the rains. I am a big believer of adventure sports. They open up my mind and challenge me in ways that I can’t even imagine. Not only are these treks exhilarating, but also fill me up with unforgettable stories for life.
Coming back to Everest Base Camp, I researched trek companies and signed up with one whose founder had scaled EBC nine times. The best way for me to commit to this trek was by paying the full amount upfront and book non-refundable tickets to Kathmandu. Of course, it was only later, when I read up more, that I realized what I had signed up for!
We took a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, better known for having the world’s scariest airport. I could feel it, when our 15-seater turbo prop plane landed on the tiny airstrip. It would be 12 days from there to EBC and back.
From Lukla, we started our 65-km trek to EBC. The pace of climbing has to be deliberately slow at the beginning for the body to acclimatize to high altitude. The last thing you want is to go down with Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) with splitting headaches.
There are three things that one should keep in mind during the trek:
1. Drink loads and loads of water. Water gets very expensive as you climb up every day, but don’t hesitate to spend because you will need to keep yourself well hydrated. Set reminders for drinking water, because the cold climate doesn’t make you thirsty and you tend to forget.
2. Eat basic food like dal chawal and ginger soup. Don’t get tempted to eat pizzas and Chinese (yes, available at tea houses during the first 4-5 days of the trek). You don’t want an upset stomach or to use more of those namesake teahouse loos at high altitude!
3. Breathe! If there is one thing that is going to stop you from breaking down (and believe me, you will, in one way or the other) – it is deep breathing. It is a very good idea to include yoga and meditation in your fitness regime prior to the climb. My breakdown moment came on Day 7 when we were trekking towards Lobuche (at nearly 5,000 metres or 16,000+ feet above sea level). The climb had left me totally exhausted and with every passing hour, it was getting more windy and cold. However, we didn’t stop and continued walking until we reached the next teahouse by 5 pm. It is unforgettable - knowing how much you can push yourself on a given day.
Also, like in any adventure activity, enjoy what you are doing. This is not a task that you have to tick off a list at the end of the day. It is ‘me’ time. Make the most of it. The Himalayas are unbelievably gorgeous with unique flora. Take breaks. Click pictures. Admire the snow-clad peaks. Play music. Joke with fellow trekkers. This is what is eventually going to get you to the top.
What this trek made me realize is just how tiny and inconsequential we all are in the larger scheme of things. We should stop taking our lives so seriously. I could witness the might of Mother Nature in its raw state. The tall peaks, the open arid vastness, the bitter cold, gusty strong winds – you don’t conquer these things. You have to be thankful to ‘Sagarmata’ (Nepalese name for Mount Everest) for permitting you to complete this breathtaking journey!
Category: Backbeat Volume No: 13 Issue No: 47
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