Mt Everest trek not for the faint hearted says CQ woman
STILL reeling from an "exhilarating and exhausting” experience, four Capricorn Coast women have just returned from the trip of a lifetime.
Cresta Clarke, Rebecca Weston, Kate Price, and Simone Stokes headed to the Himalayas last month to climb Mount Everest base camp.
The trek was split across nine days with the group sleeping in tin sheds named Tea houses along the way.
"It was incredible.... how do you put that into words,” Mrs Clarke said.
"It was a phenomenal experience.”
The trip was filled with many "highs and lows” she said.
Not a trek for the faint hearted, there was bouts of altitude sickness and even diarrhoea.
They lost their appetite due to the sheer altitude so were running on low energy levels.
"We had huge happy moments where we were singing up the mountains,” Mrs Clarke said.
"It was just such huge high and lows.... it reflected life packed into 10 days.
"It's mind over matter... you have to kick into your mental toughness to get you there in the end.”
The four women only knew each other through mutual friends.
When they realised they had similar interests in hiking, they planned their trip - going into it as "strangers”.
"It was a lovely bonding experience for us as women,” Mrs Clarke said.
The hike itself was tough - and not just physically.
At more than 5,000 metres above sea level, climbing at altitude was the hardest part.
The group flew into Kathmandu before going onto Lukla, which is known as the world's most dangerous airport.
From there, they went up to the Sherpa capital of Namche Bazaar (3,440 metres altitude) following the valley of the Dudh Kosi river.
Resting in parts for acclimatisation, their next destination was Dingboche (4,260 metres altitude).
Gorakshep was next with the flat field below Kala Patthar at 5,546 metres above sea level.
Unfortunately this was where one of the women, Ms Price, had to be flown out due to altitude sickness - with only around two hours to go until they reached Mount Everest base camp.
"That superseded her expectations... she didn't think she would make it past day three,” Mrs Clarke said.
Altitude sickness was "not something you wanted to trifle with,” she said.
Mrs Clarke explained how she sat upright at night to sleep because it felt like someone was sitting on her chest.
"The oxygen levels were so thin,” she said.
"As exhilarating as it was, every step to get to base camp past Gorakshep was really tough
"We're all really fit women but fitness didn't have to do with it.”
Once the remaining three did reach the Mount Everest base camp, they only stayed for 15 minutes.
"We were all really happy to descend and get to a lower altitude,” Mrs Clarke said.
Another memorable part of the journey was the culture and meeting new people.
"One of the best things about going to Nepal and this region is the people,” she said.
"They are incredible....the people are just so welcoming, they want to be your friend and take care care of you.
"We just had a lot of fun, it was a great adventure.”
The trip was an extra special one for Mrs Clarke.
She did the trip last year with her family and they only made it halfway due to altitude sickness.
"Getting to that point (the end), it was quite a cathartic moment,” she said.
While they were, they also took supplies to the Special School for Disabled and Rehabilitation Centre in Kathmandu.
The owner has now bought a block of land to build a centre so the four women are looking at doing fundraising to help the poverty-stricken children.
As for the trip, as tough as it was, Mrs Clarke has the travel bug now.
"I will do it again, I am hoping to go back a couple of times next year,” she said.
"We have all come away better people because of it.”