THEY may be more used to scrumming down than scaling heights, but Alistair Marsh and Alexander Norrie are preparing to climb the heights of Everest Base Camp.
And the duo, who haven’t signed up to any organised trek, will be undertaking their epic charity challenge without guides and porters.
Hawick Harlequins player Alexander told the Hawick News: “This is a once in a lifetime experience so we decided to make it as much of an adventure as possible.”
Leaving on April 9 for Katmandu, they will then fly to Lukla where the trek along one of the most famous and beautiful routes will commence and take up to 17 days.
The pair will be travelling to the Khumba region of Nepal, home of Mount Everest, at 8,846m the world’s highest mountain, and trekking to base camp (5,356m).
But their adventure starts almost as soon as they step onto the plane for Lukla as Alexander explained: “The flight into Lukla in a Twin Otter aircraft is often described as one of the most hazardous flights in the world, and if you have a look on You Tube you can see why!”
The trek will also include Kala Patar (5,545m) – a natural viewpoint offering unprecedented views of Everest and a substantially more testing and unusual route across the Ngozumpa Glacier-Cho La Pass-to Gokyo Lakes.
“Here we might have to hire a guide depending on the weather and the condition of the path. It is so easy to get lost here as the glacier can cover the path blocking the usual route,” said Hawick firefighter Alexander.
“We will be stopping off along the way in the Sherpa villages, staying in tea houses and also taking time to acclimatise and experience the local culture and traditions as well.”
And while they are both fighting fit and stars on the rugby pitch, they are fully aware that this involves a whole different kind of fitness.
Hawick prop and bank worker Alistair said: “The training we have done is mostly running on Saturdays and hiking on Sundays with weight on our backs and just building the miles up.
“Through the gym, we are hitting the gym along with some cardio to get as fit as possible before we go.”
However, while they are eagerly anticipating the adventure ahead, they are both hoping they stay clear of the dreaded altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness (AMS), which could curtail their challenge.
Alexander said: “This is my main concern, not being able to reach our goal should one of us be struck down with the symptoms of AMS where apart from the application of oxygen, the only thing to do is descend as far as possible.”
Alexander and Alistair are raising money for The Scottish Burned Children’s Club (SBCC) and Poppyscotland and Hearts and Heroes respectively.
The former explained: “As a firefighter I know the type of burn injuries people sustain can have such a detrimental effect both physically and mentally on the person involved.
“The organisation helps children up to the age of 18 who have sustained burn and scald injuries with their rehabilitation and also provide support to their families.”
While Marsh, who has organised a team from Hawick RFC to take part in the 29-mile Poppyscotland Hearts and Heroes challenge along the Southern Upland Way on their return, added: “They support injured rugby players and injured servicemen and I feel it is a great charity to support, especially when I’ve played rugby all my life.”
Anyone looking to sponsor either trekkers can go to the Hearts and Heroes website and search for Alistair’s name or visit http://www.justgiving.com/Alexander-Norrie