Reaching Everest Basecamp with just the basics

It was with mixed emotions that I boarded the plane on 27 April 2017.  My destination was Everest Basecamp.  I was on my way to face the highest mountain in the world in aid of S A Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind (GDA).

Although I had done plenty of research before embarking on my adventure, one can never know with certainty what to expect. Arriving in Kathmandu, Nepal, I received the unfortunate news that my baggage was lost. The first of many challenges I had to face, was thus climbing the mountain without my hiking gear, extra warm clothes, medication and energy supplements.   Luckily, I received a sleeping bag and one jacket to keep me warm. The following two weeks I survived in one set of clothes and a sleeping bag. Please, no questions about hygiene …

Climbing Mount Everest starts after one has arrived at the world’s most dangerous airport, Lukla – what a scary flight and landing high up in the mountains. March to May is supposed to be the driest time of year at Mount Everest.  On day two of my adventure, I was introduced to the icy rain of the mountain. On our third day (a resting day to acclimatize), we made our way up a hill of about 500 meters to reach the highest hotel with spectacular views.  The view took my breath away!  This was our first climb while it was snowing – beautiful on photos, but icy cold on your body!

For another two days, we walked in thick snow – beautiful to look at, but extremely slippery and freezing cold.  Everything in you pains.  What kept me motivated was the knowledge that I just had to continue moving forward.  We reached Basecamp after 8 days being on high altitude and in icy cold conditions.  Basecamp is surrounded by many glaciers – so much snow and ice to look at (with the high Everest peaks of 8000+ meters around).

Climbing towards Mount Everest’s Basecamp involves a lot of uphill and downhill climbing on a daily basis, this was exhausting.  Everest Basecamp’s altitude is about the same as having five Table Mountains stacked on top of one another.

It also opens one’s mind about how small humans are in context of the universe. What a privilege I had to experience this absolute beautiful part of the world. I would like to thank GDA for allowing me to dedicate this achievement to their Association. It was a very special moment to raise a banner of the Association at Mount Everest Basecamp.

This experience has taught me that it is not necessary to have everything in life, but to make everything with what you have. This allows for your dreams to come true!

Thank you to my Puppy Raising wife, Elizabeth, and family who supported me in accomplishing this memorable achievement.


Michiel van der Merwe

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