A moment of pride and glory
By Chithranga Edirisooriya
Climbing to the summit of the world is a dream of any hiker. It's only a handful that are lucky to reach it. A group of young hikers had such a dream to reach the base camp of the Everest trek.
The team comprised of ten members, eight boys and two girls. They had one thing in common, the thirst and passion for adventure. The overall coordination was done by Dilum and Thimira, the co-founders of Awidinno group. There were three main training programmes which prepared us for the long trek, building strength and endurance.
With the leadership of Thimira, we left Sri Lanka on 29 November 2016. We didn't even know what awaited us at the other end. The only thing that we had was the determination to somehow reach our destination. At Kathmandu we were greeted by Mukthi of our travel company, Himalayas on Foot.
Having acquired the remaining equipment, clothing and experiencing Nepal culture, we left from Kathmandu to Lukla with our guide Raj.
The flight to Lukla was one of the scariest flights full of adrenaline. Lukla was 2,800 m above sea level which was higher than Piduruthalagala. It was cold and was about 10oC. Day 1 was relatively a short day and we walked downhill mostly and reached Phakding which was 2,652 m above sea level. We walked for about five hours on the first day covering a distance of about 9 km.
Day 2 was from Lukla to Namche Bazar which was situated at an altitude of 3,340 m covering a distance of about 13 km. This was one of the longest days and the hardest days but where we passed several suspension bridges crossing the river Dudhkosi.
Day 3 was the acclimation day. We visited the Sagarmatha National Park and climbed the Everest view point which was about another 500 m above Namche Bazar to Shangbouche Hill. Although cold, Namche Bazar was one of the spectacular places we visited. The view of the city from above was breath-taking. We could get the first glimpse of Mount Everest from Sagarmatha National Park. The view gave us a boost to continue the journey forward. The view of the river flowing down rapidly gave us another breath-taking experience.
On day 4 we reached Tengbouche, at an altitude of 3,900 m. The total trek took us about seven hours where we covered about 12 km. The hard, tiresome journey came to end and we were really rewarded by a good view of Mount Everest. The sun was about to set and we could see the mountain tops turning gold.
From Tengbouche onwards the effect of altitude was beginning to affect everyone. From Tengbouche up to Dingbouche the total distance is about 12 km and we reached a height of about 4,400 m. The trail started down-hill and continued very gradually up and down hills before crossing the river and gradually heading up hill towards Pangbouche for lunch. From there it was a gradual up-hill trek towards the Imja Valley looking towards Island Peak. About two hour later we arrived in Dingbouche after walking for about seven hours.
The following day was a rest day where we had our last acclimatization. We climbed to the flag point at an altitude of about 4,600 m. Early next morning we headed towards Lobouche to a height of 4,900 m. We trekked for about six hours covering a distance of 12 km. We were so excited as the following day we were to travel to Gorak Shep and try to reach the Everest Base Camp. The trek was very beautiful and unique, and we crossed a lot of loose rock and Glacier moraine. The up and down trail into Gorak Shep took approximately 4.5 hours and by about 2.00 p.m. we were ready.
After a quick lunch we headed towards the base camp which was about 4.5 km from Gorak Shep. So with determination we continued towards the base camp. Finally, when we could see the base camp our hearts and legs worked faster. From the up road, we descended down and finally reached what we have been waiting for. This was the moment where we reached 5,356 m above sea level.
It was a moment of happiness and glory. We were hugging each other with tears. We all were proud Sri Lankans. When we held the Sri Lankan flag our hearts almost burst. Towards the latter part of the journey the air began to get colder and we were beginning to feel difficulties. That night was the coldest night we experienced. It was about -12oC outside.
The journey back
From Gorek Shep we were headed towards Pangboche via Pheriche. As we went further down we began to feel better as we were losing altitude. Towards the latter part we met the other Sri Lankan team of Summit Madness who were attempting the base camp led by Dayan. It was a great moment to meet a Sri Lankan team even though we were heading in different directions. We reached Pangboche after about seven hours of walking.
The next day we headed to Namche Bazar. It was quite a difficult trek towards the middle of the day just before lunch as we were to climb uphill. But after lunch we were back to normal and we reached Namche Bazar at around 5.00 p.m. where we celebrated our victory.
11 December 2016 was our final day. It was also a long day from Namche Bazar to Lukla which was about 21 km. Up to Phakding the path was easier and we walked lightly. We were so relieved as it was the final day and all we wanted was to reach Lukla as soon as possible. As we saw the landmarks of Lukla, all our weary faces were beginning to shine. We were hugging each other, almost overwhelmed, congratulating each other for our success.
We had a long celebration at Lukla. Most of us had our first hot bath after many days. It was indeed a night for celebration. We had our flight to Katmandu early the next morning and we were in our hotel by about 8.00 a.m. longing for the comfortable beds to doze off on.
It took us 11 days, the longest, the most enduring and the most unforgettable days of my life. We went as a team. The journey tested us in many ways. As Sri Lankans the biggest challenges were the high altitude and the cold. Moving slow and drinking plenty of water helped us to complete this successfully.
We passed many who were carrying extremely heavy loads along the trek. These were mainly the goods needed to keep the guest houses running. It was sad to see them carrying those loads but it was their only means of livelihood. Our porters carried most of our luggage. For me they were not merely porters but friends who treated us as their own. I never forget the kindness and support they showed us. It was hard to say goodbye to them.
The ten of us, Thimira, Mahesh, Amila, Thuwan, Kasun, Rumesh, Dilhara, Sudheera, Sajeewanie and I, became a family, helping each other and finally reaching our goal together. We proved ourselves true Sri Lankans by showing our love and kindness to both the locals and fellow travellers making them delighted.
Traveling to Everest Base Camp is not uncommon in the rest of the world. Being the off season there were many hikers from every part of the world. As Sri Lankans this was something special.
But the journey gave us a new perspective of life. We faced many difficulties and obstacles on the way, both individually and as a team. We had to survive with minimum resources and facilities. I was awed at the simplicity that the locals have embraced. Their faces expressed innocence. They were humble and always smiling that cheered all our hearts. There were no vehicles with limited connection with the outside, a world where there's only little room for corruption and violence. It was a world that is moulded by Mother Nature herself. The pictures were captured by my team during the journey.
The journey took us to a point of pride and glory, made us new friends and developed a bond that tied us together. A big thank you to all our families, friends, the Awidinno Team, our Nepal agent Himalayas on Foot, our guide Raj, our porters and all our well-wishers for all the support, encouragement and love shown throughout the journey. I invite all Sri Lankans who have a passion for hiking, trekking and mountaineering to pursue your dreams like we did so that we all can imprint the name of Sri Lanka around the world.
- Mangala flies to Sweden 4135
- Ranil off to Davos 4110
- ‘Buddhist Ideals of Good Governance’ launch today 4126
- ACs on or above 26C to be made compulsory 4118
- Sri Lanka eyes oil imports from Iran 4111
- Prez to take control of Lotteries 4255
- Two fisheries harbours released from HSZ 4109
- UNP’s Sattar to sign DAC report 4113
- Lottery ticket sellers to quit 4118
- EC summons Party Secys 4103
- Body count ticks on in road accidents 4095
- Drone crashes into Stupa 4605
- Farmers demand compensation 4089
- Three-wheeler drivers flay new proposals 4572
- ‘Free Wimal’ protest today 4107
- 90% of victims compensated 4089
- Lanka ratifies Maritime Labour Convention 4093
- Samitha proves her worth in the off-roading industry 4236
- School equipment for 185 children 4086
- Precipitating a rice shortage 3318
- Beware of those who bring presents 3679
- OF ROAD MAPS AND A RECOVERABLE ECONOMY 3620
- Better deal thro common approach 3604
- Mathews defend his bowling tactics 2973
- Dabare, Perera keep Havies on top 2926
- India dominate Sepak Takraw championship 2928
- Rampant Kandy climb to second 2936
- New Zealand strike back 2924
- Matara Thomians crush Matale Thomians 2922
- Army SC in easy win 2926
- Kalutara PCC need another 141 runs 2921
- Pakistan record first ODI win 2933
- Jayasuriya steers Marians 2920
- Semi finals will be held today 2917
- Doubts raised about de Villiers Test future 2914
- Alonso lifts Chelsea as Spurs climb to second 2918
- Thirty two teams qualify to 5th round 2916
- Sri Lanka Referees Awards 2016 2916
- People are sick of the same old faces 2739
- Sarath Silva Slams Tinkering in Law/Constitution 4219
- No property in Wimal’s name – Shashi Weerawansa 6201
- How Snapchat will change the music industry in 2017 2859
- Asia’s week: China GDP and President Donald Trump 2860
- Two presidents could move markets this week 2862
- At Davos, China seeks the limelight as Trump takes charge 2861
- What if Uber kills off public transport rather than cars? 2864
- Donald Trump and brands: An uneasy relationship 2859
- EZY Distribution drives transcend to market leadership 2863
- Duo Software triumphs in international arena 2860
- MTI selected for Qatar Vision assignment 2863
- AIA Vitality – A rewarding platform for healthy living 2862
- Pakistan Single Country 2850
- WEF to focus on the threat of right-wing populism 2851
- Who is new Tata Group Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran? 2856
- Chinese economy likely to hit bottom in 2017: Economist 2850
- Trump open to lifting sanctions on Russia 2848
- John Berger Art of seeing 3033
- Aloko Udapadi 3016
- India’s Saffron Saga 3058
- Footpaths Towards Deconstruction - Part 05 3030
- Crucial period in Chinese cinema 3032
- Madeleine Mitchell in recital 3021
- Blooming death 2653
- Corals in crisis: increasing resilience to climate change 2641
- A chance to win refrigerators 2637
- AN AFTERNOON WITH MANISH MALHOTRA IN ABU DHABI 2643
- Unique digital marketing campaign 2640
- A riot of colour 2645
- Park Seo-joon 2343
- It’s finally an animated talent show! 2342
- A slow romance lost in space 2342
- A vibrant night of talent 2345
- Winners list 2339
- Adieu to 2016 in grandeur 2338