INTREPID adventurers Alistair Marsh and Alexander Norrie have described their trek to Everest Base Camp as “one of the toughest challenges” they have ever done.
The daring duo recently returned from their 17-day mammoth mission having battled stomach bugs, extreme temperatures, altitude and a weighted back packs.
After starting from Kathmandu, they flew to the notorious Lukla Airport, where their trek began.
Alistair told the Hawick News: “Early on it was pretty obvious that the degree of difficulty may have been somewhat underestimated as we shuffled into Namche Bazaar at 3,460m on day two.
“A rest day saw us regain strength ready for our next assault. However, I use the term rest day very loosely because although we were not advancing up the mountain, we would still be out trekking for hours trying to help our bodies acclimatise.”
Food was also an issue for the two rugby players, with the only real source of protein being eggs and meals consisting of mainly carbohydrate foods like potatoes, noodles and rice.
Even Hobnobs were soon regarded as luxuries and, at £4 a packet, were more expensive than a night’s accommodation and most main meals.
Alexander said: “As we trudged on, we took some time-outs to stop, look and absorb the scenery and appreciate where we were. The stunning views certainly lifted our spirits and encouraged us to keep going.
“The higher it got the colder it got and the air was noticeably thinner. Laboured breathing and sleepless nights were normal which made the daily treks harder.”
As well as contending with the altitude, the weighted backpacks, lack of sleep and tough trekking, the pair, who were raising money for the Scottish Burned Children’s Club (SBCC) and Poppyscotland and Hearts and Heroes, also had to fight with the traffic which included Yak, donkey and horse trains continually being herded up and down the mountain paths.
Alexander added: “The Nepalese people we met en route and stayed with were incredibly helpful and welcoming and we both had a few entertaining conversations with them.”
The challenge was becoming ever greater, though, and at 5,000m the mountains started to look a lot closer.
To see Everest, it involved an early-morning climb up Kala Pattar (5,600m) to watch the sunrise.
Alexander explained: “It began with a 4:30am wake-up, on an empty stomach, in temperatures of around -35, and a good one-and-a-half hour climb to the summit of Kala Pattar, but what a rewarding view.
“My water bottle, although under my down jacket and a few other layers, froze within 30 minutes, leaving me super thirsty.
“However, I felt very lucky to get the opportunity to witness the tallest mountain on earth, and I couldn’t help but stare, opened-mouthed, in absolute awe as the sun rose above Mount Everest.”
However, due to altitude sickness, Alistair had to descend rapidly, a move he described as “the hardest decision” of his life.
Better being safe than sorry, and there was further drama in store for Alexander, who was forced to endure a full “white out” before negotiating his way down to be reunited with Alistair. “It was an amazing experience and one which we feel privileged to have done and will take great pleasure in talking about to anyone willing to listen,” said Alistair.
“The support we have received from everyone has been overwhelming and has far exceeded our expectations.”