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Going solo: Reinvention at Base Camp

Going solo: Reinvention at Base Camp

story by: Anna Sarjeant

Reinvent: ‘To change (something) so much that it appears to be entirely new.’ Like that time the girl with a hatred for snow embarked on a trip to the Himalayas and came back a born-again yeti.

I don’t like snow, I never have, so it does beg the question as to why I’m now standing shin-deep in the stuff. At 4.30 in the morning, with a scowl on my face and a Snickers in my hand. A Snickers? Yes. We’ll get back to that.

Back against the wind, there’s an icy snow drift assault­ing my cheeks and I’m stomping my boot into the ground like a raging bull. To say I’m not happy is an understate­ment. It’s day 11 of the Everest Base Camp trek and the day after we made it all the way to Base Camp itself. Now we’re midway climbing Kala Patthar, five thousand (and something) metres high, wind-lashed, wrapped in eight thermal layers and still freezing. Did I mention it’s four – expletive – thirty am?

When I say 'we' I’m talking about myself and my guide, Furba, whose Snickers I’m now holding because I told him (at roughly 5200m) that I was hungry. Which was an outrageous statement considering I’ve had zero appe­tite for three solid days now. That’s the altitude. I feel bad for snatching a Sherpa’s Snickers, but simultane­ously would like to throw it at the back of his head; his description of a "morning walk to see sunrise" has been seriously downplayed.

Two hours later, Snickers now stuck to my glove, I’m still zig-zagging my way to the seemingly unreachable summit. The sun has been ascending rapidly, casting a majestic orange glow over the mountains to our right, including Mt Everest, which is looking so darn beautiful even I manage to crack a smile. Okay Furba, now I see why you pulled me out of my contented slumber this morning.

Prayer flags and jubilations, I make it to the top some­time around 7am. By 9am I’m eating hard boiled eggs at the lodge, full of pride and a deep satisfaction that I just heaved my body 5555 metres above sea level, and when you consider Everest is only 8,848 metres, I’ve pretty much climbed the world’s highest mountain. Pretty much.

Incidentally, three days later, while perusing a giant model replica of the Sagarmáthá National Park and the entire collection of 27 Himalayan Mountains, I casually, albeit a little cockily, ask Furba which one we 'conquered'. Expecting him to indicate something monumental amidst the great white peaks laid before us, he simply points to a tiny grey mound and nods.  

The essential kit list:

1. Wet wipes, wet wipes & more wet wipes
This is how you’re showering.

2. Hydration pack & water purification tablets
Avoid an upset stomach.

3. Hand sanitizer
All day, everyday.

4. Sunscreen
Sun and snow. Enough said.

5. Headband
Protects the back of your neck from wind chill.

6. Ski buff
It gets dusty!

7. First aid kit
Because, blisters.

8. Sunglasses
Two pairs because you will lose one.

9. Ziplock bags
For snacks & to waterproof the contents of your daypack.

10. Layers
Thermals & fleece jackets. It ain’t pretty but it’s practical.

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