Kiwi trekkers follow in Sir Edmund Hillary’s footsteps
“As the trip moves on, part of you longs for a hot shower, clean clothes and sheets. But another part of you never wants to leave these mountains and the joy of being outside every day.”
“I knew that trekking to Everest Base Camp was always going to be a life-changing experience,” said Helen. “Even then, I didn’t realise just how special it was going to be for my partner David and I.
“It was a six-hour hike on that final day to reach Everest Base Camp. As we stumbled in to Base Camp, I was excited to have made it, exhausted from the strenuous hike, and humbled by my surroundings. David and I made our way to the prayer flag monument for the obligatory photo.
It was at that moment that David got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was completely taken by surprise! How could he have kept that one hidden from me? Shock, combined with noise of the wind, meant that I didn’t hear a thing David was saying. But I blurted out “Yes!” and was met with cheers and hugs from all our tourmates.
Our friends and family all joke now that no-one will ever be able to top that proposal – literally!
“Nepal will always hold a special place in our hearts now,” added Helen. “As well as the magic of the mountains and the scenery, the people of Nepal are so hospitable. We were blown away by the good nature, generosity and kindness of these people. That’s something else I believe our two nations have in common.
“This trek has been such a wonderful opportunity to really get to know this region of Nepal. Sir Edmund Hilary’s legacy lives on and is inspiring other New Zealanders to follow in his famous footsteps.”
This 19-day trek to Everest Base Camp was organised by the Himalayan Trust and Kathmandu Summit Club and run by World Expeditions. To find out how you can join an adventure of a lifetime with the Himalayan Trust visit himalayantrust.org/trek.
Above: Dingboche – snowfall over the village of Dingboche at 4,410 metres.
Below left: Mani stones: Trekking past Mani stones – rocks engraved with Buddhist mantras or prayers. The stones are found throughout the Everest region of Nepal and are instilled with profound spiritual significance. Out of respect, people should always pass to the left of the stones. Credit: Blair Millar
Middle: Kala Patthar Summit with Prayer Flags - The trekkers climbed the Kala Patthar Summit to enjoy the best closeup view of Everest.
Below right: Students at Chaurikharka school listening to stories read by the Kiwi trekkers.
Above top right: Lukla Airport: “It was a jittery start to our adventure,” said trekker Anita Perkins from Wellington. “The weather really wasn’t co-operating and the short flight from Kathmandu to Lukla airport was cancelled for several days due to bad weather.” The tiny Lukla airport, with its runway perched on a steep cliff, is often billed as the most dangerous airport in the world. It was built by Hillary in the 1960s to transport into the region the construction materials he needed for the schools and hospitals he was building. Now, the precarious airport serves as the gateway for visitors to the Everest region.
Above left: Proposal at Everest Base Camp. “I knew that trekking to Everest Base Camp was always going to be a life-changing experience,” said Helen. “Even then, I didn’t realise just how special it was going to be for my partner David and I. Credit: Helen Chalmers Middle right: Khumjung school, the first school built by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1961. On the far right of the photo is the original school room build by Hillary. To the left is the new earthquakestrengthened classroom block funded by donations from New Zealanders.
Below left: Anita Perkins reading Hairy Maclary with a group of young students at Chaurikharka school.