‘Nine days of walking: It was worth it to reach Everest’

Joe Brice and his son Sean were joined by Alan Wyatt and his son Hal as well as Steve McCarthy.
Joe Brice and his son Sean were joined by Alan Wyatt and his son Hal as well as Steve McCarthy.

The notion of trekking to Everest Base Camp started in 2012 leading up to my 60th birthday, when my wife suggested that I do something with my son Sean that I’d often spoken about, but never got round to doing.

That was going to Everest base Camp.

The two youngest members of Joe Brice's team, enjoying themselves at Base Camp.

The two youngest members of Joe Brice's team, enjoying themselves at Base Camp.

We learned that our friend, Alan Wyatt and his son Hal, had the same plan and indeed had already started looking into the trip.

We teamed up and pooled our resources.

An initial date was going to be November 2013, however as both of our sons were coming along with us, we felt it might be better to go during their October break from university.

Although only four of us were involved in the fund raising we were joined by Steve McCarthy, one of Alan’s friends who now lives in Australia, making it five of us with a combined age of 221 years (two of the group were only 20 and 21).

We wanted to be reasonably fit for the Trek, so Alan and I started training by going out on the hills and some other low walks, increasing the time and distance we were walking each time we went out.

I had the notion of raising money for charity so put it to Alan who was keen to support these good causes.

I explained that I had four charities in mind: CLAN, Fighting for sight, Mintlaw Cancer support Group and Grampian Child Bereavement Network.

All of these charities are local to the North East and all provide excellent support in their own particular areas.

A great deal of the sponsorship money raised came from local and distant Freemasons and work colleagues.

There were also donations of bottles of special reserve whiskies and other items to be raffled.

Calendars were made on our return from our collection of photographs and sold with all of the money from their sale going into the pot.

Friends and family also sponsored us and both 
of our sons - independently of one another - set up 
“Just Giving” sites.

In total we raised £4,400 in cash and approximately £900 from the “Just Giving” sites.

The trek started in Lukla a small Mountain Village in the Khumbu Region of Nepal, but our Adventure started when we arrived in Kathmandu.

We had to fly to Lukla in a small eight seated Cessna Light aircraft which was packed with all sorts of baggage, including a small dog.

Not only was the flight cramped, but we were also flying into one of the 10 most dangerous airports in the world. Thankfully, we landed safely.

There we were met by our guide and porters who were extremely helpful, supportive and knowledgeable. We would have struggled without them.

During the Trek we passed through many small villages and some beautiful countryside.

We visited Buddhist monasteries, Nepaly Tea Houses and ate lunch at the foot of Ama Dablam, a beautiful and majestic mountain.

Although our trekking time on some days was between five and seven Hours, which doesn’t seem a lot, when you’re at 3,500 metres above sea level, breathing is a wee bit tougher than normal and it’s harder to get a lung full of air.

During the trek we had a couple of acclimatisation days where we hiked much higher up than where we would be sleeping. This helped our bodies to adjust to the altitude.

At one point during the trip Alan developed Acute Mountain Sickness and had to descend to a lower altitude, but after an overnight stay he was able to rejoin us further up the mountain.

We eventually arrived at Everest Base Camp with a great sense of achievement.

We all felt that nine days of walking in were worth the effort.

There were quite a few other trekkers at Base Camp, but in some ways it felt as if you were the only ones there. Photos were taken, prayer cairns were built and with a great sense of pride, we made our way back to our ‘Tea House’ evening meal and bed.

Next morning we headed back and after four long days walking we arrived at Lukla with another hair raising flight back to Kathmandu.