Hiking to base camp on Mt. Everest was a daunting, exhilarating and unbelievable experience, says Sylvan Lake resident Perle Campbell.
Campbell, 60, said looking back on the experience is like a dream.
“I can’t believe I did it… I am still overwhelmed,” she said.
She said she isn’t an athletic person, not like the rest of her family, which is why the experience was both difficult and amazing.
The plan to travel to Nepal and India to face the infamous mountain began three years ago with a trip to Africa.
For as long as she could remember, Campbell wanted to visit the content. She was given the chance when her son and daughter planned a trip to Mt. Kilimanjaro.
“They told me this was my shot to finally see Africa, and I went, because I thought, it’s just walking, I can do that.”
After that the question came as to what to do next, and the next logical step was Everest.
She travelled to the world-famous mountain in May with her daughter to hike the mountain.
She spent her time preparing by walking everyday, attempting to get up to at least 20 km a day, as well as practising yoga.
On top of that she read up on what she would be going through. She read autobiographies of those who had made the climb, as well as news articles.
None of which really calmed her fears before she made it to Nepal.
“I was really worried about the airport [in Lukla]. It is one of the most dangerous airports in the world,” Campbell said explaining the short runway is edged by a mountain and a cliff.
“The week before we landed in Lukla there was an accident where a plane collided with a helicopter.”
It wasn’t a straight shot up the mountain, Campbell explained, instead the eight days it takes to climb to base camp was full of hills and valleys.
“There were so many times where we would climb up only to have to work our way back down on the other side,” she said.
The hardest part, according to Campbell, was the hike from Phakdig to Namche. It was the hardest, and steepest part of the climb.
The two days it took to get to the village Namche Bazaar was made up mostly of stone stairs.
She said if the entire trek to base camp had been made up of the stone steps, she wouldn’t have made it.
“I kept thinking back to a book I read about someone who had summited Everest… His guide told him it was the hardest part.”
When she finally made it to base camp, through the exhaustion and a bit of altitude sickness, Campbell said she was amazed.
There were yellow tents set up all over the place, and made up something of a little village. Many people were also around, preparing to continue their climb up the mountain.
“The week we were there, 11 people died. It was completely unbelievable,” she said.
Once she made it to base camp, at an altitude of 17,600 feet, she said she was completely overwhelmed.
“I think I may have been stunned… When we were taking pictures with the prayer flags I just started crying,” said Campbell.
The trip was unforgettable, and one she says she never thought she would have the chance to experience.
As she hiked to base camp, and caught a glimpse of the fabled summit of Mt. Everest, she said she couldn’t believe she was there.
“I couldn’t believe it, that I was there and this was something I could do and experience, it was just amazing.”