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.
- China to provide 90 water bowsers worth Rs 1b 2098
- Wag the Dog 2124
- A brief look at FARC’s origins in Colombia 2065
- ‘Panama Papers’ bags Pulitzer 2076
- SAITM will cooperate with Govt 2088
- dead man was near fashion mall 2120
- Japanese MPs back Lanka’s development 2088
- CB Bond earnings whitewashed – JVP 2099
- Talks to extend Lanka’s Continental Shelf 2088
- Ex-DIG and son re-remanded 2100
- Government can be sent home 2633
- GMOA flogging SAITM for Mahinda– Rajitha 2098
- Ranil invites Japan to invest in S. Asia 2084
- Somali Pirates’ Captives Back Home 2087
- Customs in Rs 8 M bust 2090
- May Day Rally …or the Boot ! 2061
- Auspicious Times presented to President 2067
- Johnston sacked SLFP reshuffles K’gala 2890
- Singapore in the crossfire 2962
- Park impeachment and SK foreign policy 2916
- Filipino Oconer wins overall title 1726
- Unsporty conduct by Joes 1760
- Bertie Wijesinghe, pre-Test era Sri Lankan cricketer, dies aged 96 1744
- CEAT revs up for 2017 1728
- Palace shock Arsenal 1724
- Argentina fire coach Bauza 1734
- BCCI postpones SGM to 18 April 1725
- Murray returns from injury 1721
- New mum Azarenka to return to WTA 1713
- Galle win by 188 runs 1710
- Kapugedera ton boosts Kandy 1689
- Pakistan charges Jamshed in spot-fixing case 1686
- IAAF clears seven more Russians to compete 1685
- Game evenly poised 1682
- Saumy Zainab wins Championship 1731
- Keeping Cool 1732
- Do the right thing and do it now! 1732
- Ravi Jayewardene Pious son of a political giant 2303
- Minorities’ frustration a powder keg – VIDURA 2070
- Administrative powers a must for the Plantation Tamils –Radhakrishnan 1324
- Rajapaksa sought advice from McGuinness– Indika Perera 2419
- SilkAir launches direct flights to Colombo 1760
- Rupee falls on thin volumes 1725
- SriLankan, Japan Airlines add new routes 1747
- Colombo Port box volume up 5.6-pct in Jan 1727
- Private sector to transform into main domestic growth engine 1747
- Oil eases from 5-week top, rising US production weighs 1718
- Tight fiscal and monetary policies constrain SL’s growth 1734
- Shell admits dealing with money launderer 1734
- Toshiba may sell chip business to Foxconn for $27bn 1722
- Asian shares pressured by geopolitical risks; Nikkei down 0.25% 1725
- SLIM launches Certificate in Digital Marketing 1730
- Microsoft Hosts Second ‘Device Day’ in Sri Lanka 1725
- Emirates named Best Airline in the World 1724
- Turkish Airlines and social media assist Somalia 1725
- Brain cell therapy ‘promising’ for Parkinson’s disease 1727
- Trump pushed into bombing Syria 1771
- Thailand discovers Power of Women Travellers 1735
- Economics of gambling 1598
- Trans National Aural Identity 3298
- Queen Anula The Shadow of Cleopatra 3320
- Poetry and its possibilities Part 2 3345
- The Enigma of Labyrinths 3447
- From Couture to Kutir 3317
- Hybrid Sources 4721
- With a festive bang! 948
- Easter Fun 946
- Arrogance and crowing is the way of the doomed 965
- Avurudu on the streets 980
- Tick control 948
- Sunny Sunday on the beach 959
- It’s time to save the world 1027
- From viewer to YouTuber! 1019
- Expert skincare and makeup 1035
- Avurudu at Induruwa 1002
- Exo 1025
- Remembering our fallen heroes 2107