Day 14

21 March

(Day 11 of trekking)

“After having only just completed Tony’s Trek One Step at a Time 2023 in May last year I had a phone call from an old Paramedic mate Ian Hunt to float an idea past me. He and Adam Broad from FRV being the co founders of Side by Side Trek had an idea for an even bigger event than my previous 1,506k Trek and their previous Kokoda Trek. What if we were to join forces to see if we could get some members of the emergency services family to hike to Everest Base Camp in Nepal, would I be interested and could we make it work? Of course I was interested.
After a meeting in a cafe in East Melbourne between Ian and Adam from Side by Side, myself as chair of the Emergency Services Foundation and Tony’s Trek founder, and the Foundations CEO Siusan MacKenzie we agreed this was something that we believed we could do to raise vital awareness of the mental health impacts of emergency work on Victoria’s 139,000 volunteers and paid staff, and to raise funds to assist ESF deliver its valuable programs.
Some 10 months later and Day 11 of our Trek was the day we had all been waiting for, heading to Everest Base Camp via Gorakshep. The 26 members of the team were once again up at 4am in -13deg and light snow conditions and after breakfast we were on our way.
The trek to Gorakshep was to take around 4 hours over steadily ascending, rocky and snow covered terrain. As always the views were incredible, the snow adding a whole new perspective on things, add to that two very significant avalanches on the other side of the Khumjung Glacier which certainly got our attention.
Today was also a very big day for Yaks and Naks, with multiple trains heading in each direction all morning, many times forcing us to get off the trail to let them past (more great opportunities to watch these amazing animals at work). Base Camp is currently being set up for the +/- 40 teams of around 10 who will attempt to summit Everest this year, the climbing season is imminent and a huge amount of resources are transported by the Yaks and human porters, you wouldn’t believe what the porters can and do carry on their backs to EBC.
Making pretty good time we arrived at Gorakshep at around 9am and settled into some welcome bowls of Sherpa stew and black tea.
After a rest and a warm up we were back out of the door at around 10.30 for the 3 hour trek to Base Camp. A more arduous and slippery session this afternoon with all of the continuing animal and human traffic requiring us to keep our wits about us. This like so many other parts of the Trek over the past few days was quite dangerous and it only takes one wrong step to see you over the side (and it’s a bloody long way down).
Finally at around 1pm EBC was visible in the distance and everyone’s spirits lifted, before you knew it, at around 1.30ish we finally arrived at our trek destination, and to say that it was an emotional experience to see the 26 emergency services family members representing their agencies would be an understatement.
After around an hour of photos, absorbing the atmosphere, and a couple of very nice body warming rums (for medicinal purposes only 😉) we commenced the two hour, mainly downhill journey back to Gorakshep.
26 started, 26 made it to EBC, and 26 will be home next Friday. We deliberately chose the less traditional and more challenging route to get there via Gokyo Lakes because it was not only about raising awareness and funds but challenging ourselves as much as we could at the same time, and there is no doubt we have achieved all three.
By the time we got back to Gorakshep every member of the team was emotionally and physically exhausted. With dinner done and dusted most were in the cot by 8am to prepare for another +/- 8 hour day tomorrow.”
– Tony