Why Go To Everest Base Camp? Aside from the superficial allure and bragging rights of hiking to the bottom of the top of the world, I knew there was something stronger pulling me to the mountain. With the incredible lessons from summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro in December 2016 fresh in my mind, I decided to return to the mountains and High Altitude. Here are the five reasons I went and what I learned:
1) I went because I can
There is no time like the present. Ever. In fact, It is the only thing we can be certain exists. The biggest reason why I went to Everest Base Camp is because I can. And when I say I can, I really mean that I am trying to live a life on my own terms where I consistently create my own reality. This takes practice. Thus, going to EBC was symbolic in the sense that it helped me prove to myself that I can do anything I want. Yes, it is an extreme example of the principle, but I am committed to dreaming big and going for it. So, first and foremost, I went to Everest Base Camp because I can.
2) I am committed to growing and becoming a better person – for the world.
It seems fairly obvious, at least to me, that I would come out the other end of the experience of trekking to Everest Base Camp as a better person. The experiences we put ourselves through and the environment we surround ourselves with directly shape and form who we become as people. I knew deep down inside that spending two weeks in the Himalayas in high altitude, surrounded by pristine nature and all of the gifts of the universe, would ultimately contribute to me being a better human being. By being a better human being, I would have more tools to be a contributing member to society, making a positive difference to the collective good of Planet Earth. Just as a car needs a tune-up to run better, I needed to remember the beauty of the world and what I can do to make it a better place. The logical flow was too sweet to deny.
3) I needed to be uncomfortable
Being uncomfortable – the fabled double-edged sword. I don’t think too many people are very happy when they are going through an uncomfortable experience, but with the right attitude, they can always emerge stronger and more confident as a result. The experience of hiking to EBC is littered with uncomfortable situations – trekking 15kms at high altitude with no oxygen, needing to find the motivation to keep going everyday even when you don’t want to, pushing through to keep moving even though you have a severe headache and the stomach flu.
One memory sticks out vividly. I had just gotten extremely ill from some poorly cooked food and had begun a 6km hike at 4400m above sea level. The illness really kicked in when I was half-way up climbing a massive hill. My stomach turned, my head split in half – but I knew there was nowhere to go. And, when you come to peace with this realization, that you have nothing to do but commit to your goal, you dig deep and make magic happen. I went slow. I stopped. I rested. I cried. But, I made it. And the feeling of walking through the final hillside village signalling the end of the day is my most poignant memory of the whole trip. I amazed myself. And, I was filled with the knowledge, deep down inside, that I can do anything. I never could have gotten to that place if I didn’t put myself in such an uncomfortable position. This is why we need to challenge ourselves and get out of our comfort zone.
4) It is important to unplug
While it is possible to find random spots for wi-fi in the mountains, I committed to being offline for the duration of my trip. I laughed a bit about the thought of a lawyer offline for two weeks, but also knew that it was an important thing for me to do because it helps me reconnect with the human experience.
What I can share about being offline for two weeks is that, really, you don’t miss anything. There wasn’t a moment I was tempted to check in or look at my phone. My only views were the mountains and the rivers and the rocks and the sun and the stars. Life. It takes only a few days for you to get reacquainted with your surroundings and remember that everything on our screens is a distraction. A delicious and mesmerising distraction, but a distraction nonetheless.
When I re-emerged online, I realized that, not surprisingly, I didn’t miss much. But, I realized that by being connected exclusively with my physical environment, I had gained a lot. GO FOR IT, choose one day a week to be offline and see if you are different. Remember, we weren’t born to look at screens.
5) There is no replacement for hard work
This one is the juiciest! When I first checked the map for my trek, I couldn’t believe how far it was going to be. The itinerary stated continuous days of 20+km hikes in high altitude. At the end of each day, we’d look back through a valley or across a mountain to see how far we’d come simply amazed. As my footsteps brought me to Everest Base Camp, I could only reflect on all the little steps I had taken along the way to bring me to my goal.
And the lesson is – there is no replacement for hard work to achieve the ends you seek. There is no other way to get to EBC besides other than hundreds of thousands of tiny steps. There is no replacement for the minutiae of putting in the work every single day to get to where you want to be. Walking non-stop for two weeks to get somewhere is an excellent practice of patience and remembering to trust the process. Often we want to arrive at the end right from the start, but life does not work this way. Continuous. Unrelenting. Hard Work.
So, whatever it is you are working towards, acknowledge your desires to be done already and commit to keep working at it. Great things come to those who work. Nothing good comes easy. We don’t always know when we will arrive to where we want to be, so take a moment to enjoy the process of hard work. It will make everything in your life so much sweeter one day.
Namaste and love from the Himalayas!