As the early morning light accentuates the dramatic silhouette of the mighty Himalayas, you desperately try to capture the calm beauty of the moment on camera. There is something about Nepal that brings out the photographer in us all, but as Intrepid’s Jo Manifold discovered, trekking the Himalayas also zooms in on some inner strengths…
“Every minute and inch of training that I did was worth it, because Nepal and trekking to Everest base camp was so much more amazing than I thought it could possibly be! After two months of training I set off to Nepal armed with my new hiking boots and an open mind.
Our trip started in the tourist district of Thamel in Kathmandu. My first impressions were of a manic place, but once I got to know the city I realised how wrong my notion was; with its laid back atmosphere and friendly people it would be difficult to not fall in love with the place. Kathmandu is truly a traveller’s paradise.
Apart from the stunning scenery, what made the trip so special were the locals. The Nepalese are beautiful people – welcoming, helpful and humble. I couldn’t have asked for a better group leader or assistants. I learnt so much from them and they constantly went out of the way to help us and make the trip that much more enjoyable. They love what they do, they are proud of who they are and it shows.
I was certainly surprised by Base Camp itself. I had an image in my head of a tent city covered in player flags in a nice flat valley at the foot of Everest. This wasn’t to be. When we arrived there was nothing there. Out of expedition season base camp just blends into the Himalayas. We were five weeks too early for the small city that is erected every year during expedition season. However, even without all the expedition tents, there was still a really magical feeling about being at base camp.
I admit, once the altitude starts to affect you it can be as much a mental challenge as a physical one, but it was sure worth it. I felt the altitude kick in on the sunrise climb to Kalar Patar. It was hard, but once you stand on top at 5500 metres (18,000 feet) and take in the serenity, the pain subsides and awe-inspiring mountains are laid out in front of you. You have a breathtaking 360 degrees view. Everest and the surrounding Himalayas are simply beautiful. It is completely silent, the sky is bright blue and the air is crisp. You can see everything from up there; it’s the best feeling in the world.
So, can the average person tackle Everest Base Camp? Based on my own experience – definitely. I comfortably made it up and back with no problems and I certainly wouldn’t consider myself extremely fit. As long as you are generally active and healthy and have done some physical preparation, you should be able to do the trek to Everest base camp. But you do need to be mentally strong and have a good sense of adventure!”
* photo by Paul de Santis – Intrepid Photography Competition