My Trek to Everest
My name is Ben Lewis. In 1996 I was a member of a team from Wales that planned to trek to Base Camp Everest. Other expedition members included:
• Andrew Williams
• Steve Rose
• Jonathan Smith
• Mike Hopkins
• Louise Smith
• John Diplock – Expedition Leader
• Peter Jones – Team Doctor.
• Martin Simmonds
• Our Sherpa Guides
Our preparations started in 1995 by contacting sponsors and fundraising. This involved a lot of hard work and we were very grateful to everyone who helped at that time including The Captain Scott Society, Welsh Sports Council and Tescos to name just a few. At this time training began in earnest with treks to Brecon. On the 14th April we flew from Heathrow to Kathmandu in Nepal, a 14 hour journey. We were glad we had a few days to adapt to life in Kathmandu and make our final preparations for the 17 day trek.
After 2 days we flew to Lukla Airport by helicopter, an elevation of over 9,000 feet. Lukla is where most people start the climb to Mount Everest Base Camp but it’s also famous for being rated as the most dangerous airport in the world! The first thing we noticed was that it was a little more difficult to breathe. It was during our time in Lukla that we experienced our first illness. Sadly Martin Simmonds became seriously ill with altitude sickness. The nearest medical aid was 7 days away so the decision was made for Martin to return to Kathmandu by plane. It was great to meet our Sherpas and porters who were going to accompany us on the ascent.
We started our trek early in the morning and would walk until about 2 pm. During the trip everyone took turns at cooking. The Yaks carried our equipment. It snowed for two of the days along the way and we had to stay in camp until it stopped. I thought we were going to be trapped!
In the high mountains of Nepal most people are Buddhists and we found religious symbols everywhere. Even the Yaks had prayer flags sown into their wool.
Nepal is a beautiful country where people come to trek in the mountains, but by their very presence are damaging the environment. We carried our own fuel so we didn’t need to collect any wood along the way. We saw local people planting young trees to repair the damage done by other visitors.
After a 10 days trek we reached Base Camp Everest over 17,500 feet. We spent only one day at our high point. As part of a last challenge I reached 18,000 feet with Steve Rose and the help of some of the Sherpas. Most of the group were relieved to start the descent that would take another 7 days. We said our goodbyes and gave our thanks to our Sherpas and porters and flew by helicopter from Lukla back to Kathmandu.
Andrew Williams had brought lots of pens to give out along the way. I can remember their faces when they received them from Andrew. I will never forget the expedition we made to the top of the world!
Author: Ben Lewis
Prepared by Steve Williams