Local nurses Jill Blacklock and Coral Forbes started their trek to the top of the world this week, or at least closer to it than the majority of people ever get.
Blacklock and Forbes are climbing to the Mount Everest Base Camp.
This is no ordinary bucket list venture; they are doing it for the kids.
The hike is an expedition organized by the non-profit association Summits of Hope.
The society is an official partner of the BC Children’s Hospital and the climb is a fundraiser.
A year in the making
Blacklock said that the whole excursion was a product of a professional development meeting a year ago in Vancouver.
“One of the people in that meeting said they were hoping to raise funds …, by trekking to base camp,” said Blacklock. “We’d never heard of this before. So there was a group of about 12 of us that sort of got together and partnered with Summits of Hope.”
Each member of the trek was responsible for fundraising at least $5,000. Blacklock and Forbes reached their goal through bottle drives, raffle tickets and word of mouth.
In addition, anyone donating $40 or more to the cause had the opportunity to inscribe a message on a pennant-style flag. Blacklock and Forbes strung all the collected flags together and will be flying them at base camp.
“Every cent we raise goes to the BC Children’s Hospital,” said Forbes.
The ladies are responsible for the travel costs (flights, transfers and food) associated with the trip. Summits of Hope finds accommodations for them during the adventure, “which is probably nothing more than a teahouse,” said Blacklock. “We take our own sleeping bags. We were told we aren’t sleeping in tents, but it will be fairly rustic accommodations.”
They will climb a total of just over 9,000 feet in 14 days, to the Mount Everest base camp, which is 18,204 feet above sea level.
“We will trek, on average, about five hours a day,” said Blacklock. “The last expected day of the trek is Nov. 17, when we hike from Namche back to Lukla.
“The biggest adjustment will be getting used to that altitude, because living where we do, at sea level, well there’s not much we can do to prepare for that.”
Blacklock said there are a couple of acclimatizing days built in, and that during the trek they will “hike up and sleep down,” meaning they will actually reach a peak every day, then descend before ending the day’s trek.
Blacklock and Forbes had a bit of a reality check a couple of weeks ago, when news came of the tragic avalanche in Nepal that killed 29 people, including Jan Rooks, a nurse at BC Children’s Hospital.
“It scared me a bit when I first heard about it,” said Blacklock. “I was curious as to where it was, because one doesn’t expect that kind of weather there, at this time of year. But … when I looked it up on the map, I saw that it was over 300 kilometres west of the base camp. Different part of the Himalayas. We are in a different area, entirely.”
Climb starts today
Today, after nearly a year of training, mostly by walking up and down the Goose Spit staircase, the trek begins, from Lukla, Nepal.
Anyone interested in following the adventure can do so with the click of a mouse, by accessing the Summits of Hope website, at www.summitsofhope.com and click the “base camp live” prompt at the top of the page.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Blacklock. “There will be daily audio reports and photos… and you can follow it on Facebook too.”
Donations are still being accepted on the Summits of Hope website as well.