I did Everest Base Camp Trek for The Limbless Association because a family friend's son had had an accident at work and after a few years of surgeries, the only option ended up being that they amputate his leg.  He was just 21 at the time, but the courage and good spirit that he showed was inspirational.  He's gotten to grips with his prosthetic, is now a father and will be getting married this year.

A friend was organising an independent trip to trek to Everest Base Camp and I signed up.  As this is rather an iconic trek, I thought that I should see if I could raise some money for charity as well.  I paid for the trip myself, so all money raised went straight to the charities (I also raised for Altzeimer's Society).

So, you'd expect the run up to involve some intensive training, lots of hills etc - but no, unfortunately, the timing was pretty poor as I'd had to have major surgery four months prior to the trip which meant I had to take it easy for three of those months - I clearly hadn't thought this through.

We started the trip in Kathmandu where we spend a couple of days doing the tourist thing before heading to the airport to fly up into the mountains.  I'd heard about Lukla airport but nothing prepared me for it as you can see a very short runway - approx 500m - and uphill.  But we landed safely and out we got.  We met our guides and Sherpas and off we went.

Trekking above 2500m can give effects of altitude sickness which can be fatal, with symptoms like headaches, insomnia, loss of appetite, dizzyiess, nausea etc - to combat this, you have acclimatisation days where you trek higher but then come back down and sleep at the same height as the previous night. This gives your body the chance to get used to less oxygen than it's used to getting.  It's indiscriminate, regardless of fitness levels, age etc and in some cases it does mean evacuation - we lost a few people from our group due to it.

Fortunately, the advice is to go slowly and steadily, which suited me OK and we settled in to a nice pace, able to take in the truly amazing scenery, feeling so small against the scale of the Himalayas, just when you think you can see the farthest mountains, you notice another ridge behind it - they seem to go on forever.

After a few days, as we gained height, after about 4000m I started to struggle with appetite, it completely disappeared, I'd be so hungry when we arrived for lunch/dinner, but after a couple of mouthfuls I couldn't manage any more so really wasn't getting enough calories each day - less than 1000 thanks to Snickers bars which seemed to be all I could get down.  Although this was my only symptom, I felt completely out of it, just 'putting one foot in front of the other', which became my mantra.  My mind was flitting between a devil and angel on my shoulders - the devil giving me a hard time for being so pathetic and feeling this way, the angel pleading for a break as had barely recovered from surgery.  It was all a bit of a haze.  I do remember that the higher we went the more barren and cold it became, the terrain changed dramatically from lush rhododendron forests, to a moon-like rocky landscape.

So on we went.  We reached the last tea house exhausted and feeling we couldn't go on.  One other person and I really needed a break before the last push.  The others went on, we took another 30 mins rest then headed out to finish the trek - we were elated when we finished and came back for a well deserved rest.

 

 

On the way back down, I slowly came back to life, and started enjoying the trek again - whilst the snow was still there, I took full advantage of hitting the deck and making a snow angel (kind of a tradition with me - no reason other than that it's fun!), a huge snowball fight also broke out with us and the guides - it was lovely relief to have some fun and be silly.

 

 

One of the strangest memories was cheering for the yak dung!  I know!  But it's dried out and used as fuel for the burners in the tea houses - each day we'd arrive and it would be so cold, the walls are so thin, then around dusk they'd bring in the yak dung and get the fire going soon warming the place up.   It's the small things!

Speaking of which, one of the guys and I started talking about bourbon biscuits one evening and became obsessed with them, they were the only thing we wanted, it meant everything.  We search each small shop we came across, all came up empty.  On the last night of the trek, he'd gone on ahead, when I arrived at the tea house, he smiled at me with a rather smug look, when I asked why he was looking at me like that, he produced a packet of bourbon biscuits - I think I screamed with delight - needless to say they didn't last long - yum!

We finally made it back to Lukla and got our flights back to Kathmandu where we shopped and, appetite renewed, stuffed our faces before flying home.

 

The Limbless Association make no charge for its services, so that no amputee is ever left without the information and support they need. We rely on the generosity of the public and our amazing fundraisers like Maria , their support has assisted the LA with 35 years of ensuring that no amputee need cope alone

 

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