Editor’s note: The following piece written by Manchester native Leslie Trussler about her experience trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp is the second of three accounts. All accounts are dedicated to her Sherpa, Thundu, who was killed in an avalanche triggered by a 5.6-magnitude earthquake on Ama Dablam mountain in Nepal on Sunday, Nov. 27.
Read part one here.
What was a lifelong dream of mine came to fruition in October 2016 – to trek to Mount Everest Base Camp. I have always had the desire to see the world and challenge myself to new adventures, and after summiting Mount Kenya with my husband, Jay, and Bryan Myers in 2007, my love for mountain climbing began. Life can be a challenge with work and family obligations making it difficult to travel and find time to achieve personal goals, but it is well worth the effort and planning to keep that fire and desire of living life to the fullest. I ventured to Mount Whitney a few years ago in California with some great friends, summiting this mountain – the tallest peak in the lower 48 states – up to 14,400 feet. I have always had a love for nature, and the massive Mount Everest has always enticed me. Many have summited, many lost their lives, and many have just viewed its beauty from a distance. This year, I would see the peak and get to trek to Everest Base Camp with some fabulous people including my cousin, Mike Niederhauser.
Mount Everest Base Camp sits at the base of Mount Everest just below the famous Khumbu ice fall at 17,500 feet. The plan to get to this beautiful place started in my mind years ago when talking to Kevin Vann in my home. He and his business partner, Rob Casserly, have a company, Trek8848.com, and have made many trips to Everest Base Camp. They do this trip for several reasons, including giving average folks, like myself and Mike, an experience of a lifetime. They also give back to the locals, donating proceeds back to the community, as well as helping the children who lost their Sherpa fathers in the earthquake and avalanche on Everest 18 months ago. They help many of those children by supporting the financial aspect of getting an education, which is not free in Nepal.
Our adventure began in Katmandu, Nepal, which is a very busy, loud and crowded city. We then flew into the world’s scariest airport, Lukula, at 9,000 feet. Once “on the mountain,” the quietness prevailed for the next 15 days, as we would not hear an engine or motor of any kind – just the sound of our feet trekking up mountains, rivers flowing, and the howl of the wind. We trekked over swinging bridges with roaring rivers below as yaks made a dominant stance on the trail and trekkers “took the mountain side” and let the yaks pass, as not to get accidently pushed off the edge. Each day was slow and steady as we visited tea houses and had every kind of tea you can imagine, with plenty of soups and noodles at each stop. We trekked about five to eight hours on average each day, with the summit day as a 17-hour outlier trek.
On day 11 of our journey after summiting Lobuche East Peak at 20,200 feet and descending back down to 16,000 feet, we left the small town of Gorak Shep where we had stayed the night before for the six-hour trek that would take us to Mount Everest Base Camp. The terrain was rocky, but the wind howled on clear 40-degree day. Mount Everest was a figure in our panoramic view that we were now accustomed to seeing, but as we approached base camp, the peak of Everest disappeared, and the rocky terrain of base camp prevailed with the looming Khumbu ice fall behind.
Base camp was a solemn but lively place. As prayer flags blew in the wind, I thought of lives lost here as well as lifelong goals achieved and failed. This was where our journey had taken us, and the meaning of this place was more than words can describe. We took pictures and spent about an hour before starting our descent down the mountain. How I wished my family and friends could experience this with me.
This journey is achievable to so many that have the desire. You do not have to be a marathon runner or a power lifter, or even a good athlete. It takes desire to persevere when you are cold and tired and missing home, but the rewards of this are plenty, and that’s what makes life that much sweeter.