Reflections On The Journey

By Pippa Blake

I have been quietly assimilating my thoughts and emotions about this extraordinary adventure since returning from our Everest Base Camp Trek. I was worried that I could not articulate my feelings about the trek well enough, which really means my feelings about the team. I was concerned that I could not do it justice.

And so here I go jumping in with words like "trust" and "belief" that this amazing team would never let me fall "out" or "over" or "in". There were precipitous and precarious sections: suspension bridges that waved in the breeze hundreds of feet up and wooden bridges with rotted sections missing. And then there were "Yak Attacks" by those huge shaggy big horned yaks ringing their bells and moving along the skinny paths with the authority of the "Kings of the Mountains" so you'd better move over. Yet the team never doubted that we would achieve our goal of reaching Everest Base Camp.

From start to finish our Canadian/Nepali Rise Above Barriers "Dream Team" worked in perfect harmony and surely epitomized how a team should work. The trek was very tough and extremely challenging – a great deal tougher and more challenging than any of us had anticipated. However, throughout the 21-day trip, there was never a mumble or a moan, with each person giving everything they possibly could to move with the TrailRider towards our common goal.

There was a great deal of respect for each other within the group. Those who felt less than 100% on any given day quietly stepped aside whilst others moved in to do their bit as they felt well. There was always support when needed. Each person had something to offer so that everyone knew they were contributing and were an integral part of the team. Physiotherapy, acupuncture, monitoring of heart and lungs, filming, photography, muscle power, TrailRider maintenance, guidance, communication and emotional support were all covered. We were indeed blessed to have such expertise and unselfish sharing within the group.

We were in good hands from the moment we arrived in Katmandu under the excellent guidance of Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa and his wife Lhakpa Doma Sherpa. Lhakpa had meticulously planned our trek to ensure that we moved slowly enough to deal with the altitude. As a result of his care, not one person got altitude sickness and every team member made it to Base Camp, which in itself is an extraordinary achievement. We had the added advantage of moving through the area where Doma grew up. As well as meeting her friends and relatives along the way, we stayed in tea houses run by her aunts, sister and brother-in-law. We were always greeted and welcomed so warmly.

The guides and porters that Lhakpa hired quickly became friends and an invaluable part of the team. They were strong, brave, honest and agile. They had wonderful senses of humour and were 100% committed to the mission.

On November 14th, as we made our final push towards the Everest Base Camp, everyone had to dig deep within their reserves. The trail was brutal and unforgiving. The TrailRider had to be carried above the boulders and negotiated across precipitous trails whilst the team gasped in the excruciatingly cold thin air at 5,364 metres. Our successful arrival at Base Camp was a celebration and an emotional high but, most importantly, it was a testament to our team who had courageously dealt with their personal challenges and "Risen Above Barriers" literally and figuratively to get there.

Thank you to all our supporters, sponsors, family, friends and total strangers for believing in our mission. We couldn't have done it without all of you.

The team at Everest Base Camp.

Our wonderful guides Lhakpa and Doma.

Teamwork got us through the hardest days.

We did it! Pippa celebrates the end of our trek.