Our biggest endurance test of all time...
13.12.2013 - 31.12.2013 -20 °C
Before I get into some detail regarding our 18 day Goyko Ri & Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek I'd first like to introduce you to my Trekking 'Family'. When you spend close to 24 hrs / day for 22 days in a row you definitely can call each other family and I'm proud to talk of my current one.
On dec 11th, 2013 at the fancy yet out if place Radison Hotel, Amanda and I walked into the lobby to meet our group leader and the 13 others that also signed up for the Everest Circuit with World Expeditions (W.E.) If you have ever gone on a tour or plan to one day there is one thing that you have zero control of - the other people that join your tour. There is always those first tense awkward moments at the very beginning at introduction time...it's like the first day of a new job or meeting your possible future in laws - it can go one of two ways...really well or a horrible outcome can unravel quickly.
Unlike other tour groups, we didn't initially do the 'go around in a circle and introduce ourselves' bit, instead we dove right into a traditional Nepali cultural dining experience where we began our intros on a one by one basis. Our group tour leader is Ramesh Onja, a born and raised Nepali from the eastern countryside who is a serious, kind and responsible man who at first I felt had an accent and english annunciation I was going to have difficulty understanding, however after a little time listening to his instructions and skillful leadership these past few days his voice and advice are,completely clear. I understand him very well and he has become a friend who affectionately calls me "boss" each morning. Underneath Ramesh in 'family' rank is D.V., Lok and Dilip, these 3 Sherpas take care of us as if they are our communal parents. Every morning they wake us up at 630am (or earlier) with tea and washing water (washy wash), breakfast at 730, guide us through the mountains at a slow, steady and set acclimation pace...usually around 1230 they serve us a hearty lunch by our kitchen crew, more walking til tea time at 330 again with afternoon washy wash, and a substantial dinner at 630...they are also in charge of the porters, organizing the purchase of produce along the way and a handful of other duties...they do this with a smile, joking personalities and gratitude. All in all there are 26 staff that are looking after our family of 15 - consisting 8 men, 7 women aged 20 to 60, 4 are from Canada & the USA and the remaining 11 from Australia.
- Ching-Wen Lin: raised in Taiwan and for the past 20 years has lived in NYC is the only one from the states, she is meticulous, organized, focused and asks every question we all,wish we asked in the first place. Often her smile takes over her face as she laughs at herself. She is in contention with having to deal with the most illness on this trip as I bugged her about becoming addicted to cough medicine and daily dose of drugs she was on.
- Ken: originally from Great Britain he has been in Canada since 1982 and lives in Ottawa. He has heaps of travel experience and although he generally sits quietly in the corner he comes up with fantastic one liners in a old sea captain growl. Kens push to EBC and Kala Patthar was cut short as the Cho La pass pushed his health to the limit and he needed to go into the Pressure Altitude Chamber PAC in Labroche twice for close to 5 hours but he did complete the remaining of the trip and eared respect for his commitment.
- Kate & Tony are from Melbourne and have so much experience in travelling its hard to keep track of where they have been...their conversations often involve where they are planning on travelling to next. I can tell that if we lived closer together we would be friends with them both as they have quick wit and interesting stories. They both struggled with colds for a majority if the circuit but still managed to come out healthy and smiling.
- Lisa & Craig are from Canberra are the only others that are our age in our group. They are the tours quietest two yet they are both very tough...even though they battled with a nasty cold as well as some Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) they pushed through with no complaints EVER!
- Stephen, Ben, Dan - affectionately known as 'the boys' these three from Adelaide are best mates and two are also brothers. They are the youngest 3 men of our tour with Stephen being the youngest all together. Stephen is an student studying astro physics so we all know he has an IQ of 258 but being the youngest he gets the most ribbing from all of us and his colourful delivery of epic adjectives is the source of many laughs, he is quite possibly one of the nicest guys I have ever had the pleasure to meet, the best way for me to describe him is as the character of Kelso from The 70s show that is as smart as Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. Ben is a self proclaimed accident prone klutz and has the most curious mind of everyone...this combination led him to some prime "if it's going to happen to anyone then - Ben" moments. Dan, has shown that he is the leader of this trio evident by thoughtful, calculated direction and to me is the glue for these three...however with that said I don't believe that they would ever be the same without each other...they show love for each other that is honourable and creepy at the same time!
- Karen ... Oh Karen! She is a Scottish lass that immigrated to Australia to get away from the cold weather and is an absolute cracker! Her humour of well timed one liners and deep set oldies all delivered with full shameless disclosure is a constant source of giggles for us all...she too was ill for a lot of this trip but persevered by often pointing out the hilarity of our certain doom...god love her.
- Dave; well there is always that one person in a group that is completely disliked by everyone else...just kidding. Dave from Sidney has a humour that is quite possibly darker and dryer then my own...plus he has the added ability of no filter and no concern for consequence...he is by far the king of the 'selfie' and was by far the neatest person in every aspect on this tour.
- David & Kiera; every now and then you meet some people on these tours that you have an instant connection with. This father daughter team from Sidney shared an instant trust and comfort with us like no others. David shares the same think set as myself and we often found each other finishing each other's sentences or not even needing to speak to communicate. I consider him my brother and I know we will be friends for life. He travelled the Khumba valley 30 years prior and this time brought his daughter to experience the adventure...Kiera is the youngest female at 21 and is mature beyond her years, she has travelled extensively already and probably will never stop...her and I clicked from day one as I poked and bugged her daily...I am the little brother she never had and to me my little sister (this is a massive honour towards her for me to state this) and I do love them both.
So like any regular family we have all seen each other to accomplish some of our biggest triumphs, helped lend a hand to overcome obstacles, seen us at our worst, all have been ill, spoke about how badly our most recent toilet experience payed out, broken down and above all persevered our toughest test of endurance - together.
This is our Everest Circuit family and we feel so fortunate to have been touring with each and every one of them. Life long connections have been made by all of us and i personally am proud of us all...with the achievement of Goyko Ri, Cho-La Pass, Kalla Pathar and of course EBC we have created a life long bond that will forever be in our hearts and memories...
Happy New Years to all my friends and my families...we love you all.