A dear cousin asked me: Why trek to Everest Base Camp (elev. 5,380 m) and make your life miserable? We know for a fact the effect…and risks….of altitude sickness….
The short answer is: Because I want to prove to myself that I can do it…
You see…when Sherri and I hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro (elev. 5,895 m), I was not able to summit. During that summit night, I tried so hard to keep pace with Sherri’s fast-paced push for the summit that I failed to realize that I was setting myself up for hypothermia. The profuse sweating during that highly unusual cold windy night (minus 50C with the wind) did me.
I had to turn around….despite all the help from my team in the picture above….a fate which I never truly accepted.
Trekking to Everest Base Camp is my chance to finish what I started.
MY PREPARATION FOR THE EBC TREK
By the time Sherri and I set foot on Kilimanjaro in February 2006, we were very fit. The endurance training we had put ourselves through 3 months prior had worked exactly as planned.
I made the decision to trek Everest Base Camp in March 2017.
Naturally, my original plan was to resume our Kilimanjaro prep endurance training….only to realize 3 months later that I was not improving my fitness level fast enough.
I also suspected that at 6′ and 200 lbs, loosing some weight would make the preparation and trek easier on my body.
Finally, trial treks to New York’s Adirondacks mountains made me realize that I was overusing my right leg to compensate for a now old left knee injury. I concluded that I would not be able to use that strategy for the duration of the Everest Base Camp trek….
I had to push harder….and I needed to address my knee injury….realizations which fortunately coincided with the start of a 5-week summer vacation between mid-July and August, 2017…..
A more strict plant-based diet
Although I already ate reasonably healthy most of the time, I realized early on that I had to be more strict…. no longer indulging in the occasional bread and cheese as comfort food…not to mention the not so healthy occasional take-out food at lunch times. I gave up the glass(es) of wine as well.
In addition to losing 18 lbs of unnecessary weight….which I will not have to carry on Everest….I can also now attest to the positive health effects of a plant-based diet.
After 4 weeks of strict adherance to a plant-based diet, I was advised by my family physician that I no longer needed high blood pressure medication.
My blood tests also showed soon thereafter that my cholesterol levels went from the formerly “borderline high” range to the now “desirable” range.
The following sources…along with their documentaries, cookbooks and podcasts….were powerful motivators along the way:
What The Health
Endurance training: Cardio and resistance with weight exercises
The 5 weeks off work were a blessing….allowing me to crank up the duration and intensity of my workouts…and to undertake some much needed physiotherapy.
I replaced my routine 1 hour long cardio or strength classe 3 to 4 times a week with something more stringent…… a daily regime of 2 to 3 hours of cardio vascular and muscle endurance training.
I highly recommend the following book: The Lean Look: Burn Fat, Tone Muscles and Transform your Body in Twelve Weeks Using the Secrets of Professional Athletes by Paul Goldberg and Matt Fitzgerald The Lean Look book
I also joined a Running Room…initially as a guest….and then in one of their running programs. I found that running with others gave me the motivation to run regularly and for longer distances.
Although at the time of writing, I cannot claim to be as fit as when I headed for Mt. Kilimanjaro (I was then 39 years old), I believe I am fit enough to undertake the EBC trek.
Staying out of injuries
I became increasingly concerned about the risks of injury when my running regime increased from 4 runs a week to 5….and then eventually 6. For a couple of weeks, I started runs while still being sore from the previous ones.
To address this, I recently started Hot Yin Yoga classes.
In addition to being great stretches for the muscles (3 to 5 minutes held poses), I have to admit that the classes gave me a much needed mental break.
SETTING UP THE STAGE FOR LIFELONG BENEFITS
The need to prove to myself that I can reach Everest Base camp was a powerful motivating force.
However, reflecting back on the changes I made to my life choices in the last few months, I developed a more powerful motivation……a commitment to lifelong healthy choices brought upon by great food, physical exercise and relaxation for the mind.