We often hear about the successes of mountaineers who head up the world’s highest mountain, and return part of a select group who reached the top of the world. But we don’t often hear of the good work that goes into getting people as far as Everest Base Camp, especially if they don’t intend to make a summit bid.
It’s common for people to go to unusual lengths to raise money for an Everest trek, knowing that something special awaits them when they reach the Himalayan Mountains. In August 2009, sixteen students and three teachers from Northallerton College in Yorkshire will be doing something quite original to raise money for their Everest Base Camp trek later in the year.
With all the activity and exercise of the Everest trek ahead of them, the students aim to raise money for the trip by sitting very still. A high street store in their town has hired them to assume poses in the window displays in the place of mannequins. The stunt coincides with Yorkshire Day on the 1st of August, so the students can expect to attract the attention, and hopefully the donations, of many of the locals that pass by.
The Northallerton students are not the only young people in the news for their fundraising right now. In July 2009, the diminutive and fresh-faced Matt Moniz aims to ascend fourteen of Colorado’s highest mountains within two weeks to raise money and awareness for a crippling disease. He has dubbed the expedition “14 in 14”, because each of the peaks he is climbing is in excess of 14,000 feet. What makes this expedition more audacious is the fact that Matt is only eleven years old.
In the build up to this feat, he trained by trekking to Everest Base Camp. He and his father, Mike, took the variation that includes summiting the neighbouring Kala Pattar (5545m) where they got a great view overlooking Everest Base Camp. The idea of Matt’s series of climbs is to reach heights where he might experience the shortness of breath that his best friend, a Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension suffer, has to endure daily.
Having reached Everest Base Camp at 5,360 metres (17,600 ft) Matt has already ventured to altitudes beyond the ’14ers’ he has ahead of him, but the Everest trek is a more gradual ascent than what he has ahead. Although several of Colorado’s mountains are hiking grade ascents by their easiest routes, doing one every day for two weeks is an exhausting prospect.
If they complete all fourteen of the intended peaks in a fortnight, they will have ascended vertically about the equivalent of Everest-and-a-quarter and more than twice the vertical distance from sea level to Everest Base Camp. Matt and his team, which includes the family of his sick friend, have already raised 14,000 dollars for charity, and climbing.
The Chocolate Sherpa
For 30 days earlier this year, the Belgian explorer, Louis-Philippe Loncke, led a small team on a 400km trek from Kathmandu to Everest Base Camp. Known as the ‘Crazy Belgian’ from his previous mad expeditions, Louis Philippe wanted to raise money towards setting up a much needed mobile hospital in Nepal. Apart from the distance covered, the unusual feature of this Everest trek was that it involved distributing 100 kilos of Belgian chocolate en route to the local Sherpa population and holding a high altitude chocolate tasting session when they eventually reached Everest Base Camp.
The team called themselves the Chocolate Sherpas and used their unusual mission, not only for fundraising, but also to give something back to the Sherpa people and porters who have helped support so many Everest treks over the years. Their expedition successfully reached Everest Base Camp on the 1st May and, for the many climbers and porters who were waiting there to make their summit bids, their arrival was a very tasty and welcome break from their regular routine.