At 3:37pm on the 16th of February The Inspired Adventures Cure Cancer Team Everest took their first steps on Everest Base Camp, reaching 5,350 meters. We actually descended into Base Camp, having passed 5,400 meters on our approach. In total, we will spend nearly 50 hours above 5,000 meters - a very serious undertaking. Eight days in with four to go, it is clear that this is truly the physical challenge of a lifetime.
We headed off this morning from Lobuche at just under 5000 meters, reaching Gorakshep after 3.5 gruesome hours through snow and wind. From Gorakshep it was another three hours to Base Camp. We walked across a completely frozen lake before the path ascended, descended, ascended, descended, and ascended again, following a very narrow ridge with sheer drops on both sides. By this point the wind had picked up, blowing constantly at 60kph with 100kph gusts. Little Boo (Emma) nearly blew away more than once (no joke!). The wind was blowing up snow flurries, mini tornadoes, and anything else that wasn't attached to the ground.
By the time we descended down the ridge and over a glacier to the official start of Base Camp the temperature was hovering around -25 degrees with wind chill. The gusts were now fairly solid at 100kph. We. Were. FREEZING. Our amazing Sherpas poured us celebratory mugs of cocoa that were cold before they hit our lips. We snapped some quick photos, downed our cocoa, threw on our packs, and headed right back the way we came. Just like that we had reached our incredible goal and before we could blink we were heading back down the mountain. This whirlwind feeling only added to the overall madness of our already overwhelming physical, mental, and emotional experience.
The walk back to our tea house was perhaps the most difficult two and a half hours some of us had ever experienced. The wind was still blowing, the snow was still falling, and now the sun was quickly setting. Once more it as up, across a ridge, down, up, down, across a frozen river, around a ridge and back to the toasty lodge that we will call home tonight. It sits at a whopping 5,135 meters; not the ideal altitude for sleeping but alas, it's one more tier to this already awesome challenge.
A final note on our day. We began with a vey touching letter from the CEO of Cure Cancer followed by sharing the day's theme: an invitation to declare who it is each of us was trekking for. This brought a few tears as we recollected on family members passed and friends still fighting. K2 was doing it for Granny Lu, J-Rod for his mate Gareth, and Chook for his Mum, who passed away in 2009. I was doing it for Aunty Barbara and Mama Rohr, for whom I was "Rohring" to Base Camp. This added element of meaning is what separates an Inspired Adventure from just a "holiday." It is travel with a purpose at every level and I am so proud to be part of a team that has raised tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research AND achieved a physical feat unlike any other. From here it's down down down we go!