Trekking nearly 18,000 feet to Mount Everest Base Camp in Nepal will become a reality next April for two Rotary Club members from Central Alberta.
Cindy Oliver and Robert Mast, both of Red Deer, are participating in Rotary Everest Trek 2012 — which includes 30-some Rotarians from across Alberta journeying to the Himalaya Mountains for the sake of charity.
The Rotarians are raising money for The Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation (SEHF) so it can build a school to educate Nepali children — the only school in the Solu- Khumbu region that will offer a high school science curriculum. Nepal is considered one of the poorest and most undereducated countries in the world.
Oliver and Mast will take the 23-day challenging trek to base camp while Innisfail couple David and Brenda Layden are participating in the “13-Day Everest View Trek” during the same time in April. All four are raising money for the same effort.
Mast, a city dentist, was considering the Machu Picchu trek in Peru, but then he heard about the unique opportunity being offered through Rotary Club of Calgary West. He was impressed the Everest trek would be a great adventure, plus it aimed to help Nepalese children escape poverty.
Mast is a member of the Rotary Club of Red Deer.
“I thought that’s an opportunity that I just can’t walk away from,” said Mast, married and father of two. “It’s not just for me, but it’s going to benefit someone else as well.”
Oliver, member of the Red Deer Centennial club, said she is looking forward to the adventure and the challenge.
“I really love to travel and see new places, so that stood out for me at first,” said Oliver, currently working in the oilpatch at Grande Prairie. “Coupled with a fundraiser, that appealed to my volunteering side. It’s basically a win-win.”
The Laydens couldn’t be reached for comment.
The trekkers will experience towering Himalayan peaks, picturesque Sherpa villages, and sacred Buddhist monasteries. Yaks or Sherpa porters will carry all their camping gear.
Rotarian Karl Herzog of Calgary, an established climber, is organizing the trek.
Mast, a long-distance runner for more than 45 years, spent a weekend with the other trekkers around Lake Louise the end of August. They did two day hikes.
“I had no trouble keeping up, so I thought, ‘I can do this,’” said Mast, 57.
Oxygen deprivation will be one challenge. The base camp on the Nepalese side, also known as South Base Camp, is located at an altitude of 5,364 metres (17,598 ft). The base camp on the Tibet side, or North Base Camp, is at 5,545 m (18,192 ft). Mount Everest’s summit is 8,850 m (29,035 ft).
Oliver and Mast are starting out at Lukla, which at 2,800m/9,800ft., is higher than any ski hill in the Alberta Rockies. Top elevation at Lake Louise ski hill is at just over 8,600 feet.
“The biggest challenge will be the mental aspect of it — the challenges of pushing yourself to climb that elevation,” said Oliver, 43. “It’s not necessarily strenuous to climb or to walk because you are walking so slow, but to be at the elevation and how your body is going to react is anyone’s guess.”
Part of the group’s training will be led by Laurie Skreslet, who on Oct. 5, 1982 became the first Canadian to summit Mount Everest.
“He’ll bring us on a hike that will simulate hiking at 17,000 feet,” said Oliver.
The cost of the trip runs about $5,000.
Each participant is asked to raise a minimum of $2,500 for the Sir Edmund Hillary Foundation. Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand mountaineer, and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers known to have reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 29, 1953. Hillary was 33 at the time.
“I know that people in Red Deer are really good at supporting causes, both locally and internationally,” said Mast. “I really challenge them to consider us as well.”
Those who wish to donate to a trekker can do so at www.rotaryeveresttrek.com
– copyright Red Deer Advocate