Expedition to Everest Base Camp: Part Two

Back in March, Alasdair Ross took on Mount Everest, all in the name of charity. Over the course of 14 days, the trek was both challenging and enlightening, and an all-round unforgettable experience.

No stranger to extreme challenge events and the great outdoors, we caught up with Alasdair to find out more about his expedition to Everest Base Camp.

Beginning in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, some of the 19-strong group boarded a 14-seat Islander – a small, twin propelled airplane – and flew the short journey to Lukla, a small Sherpa town in northeastern Nepal; home to the world’s most dangerous airport, thanks to its mountainous location, high wind speeds and extremely short runway.

“You essentially land on an upward slope of around 30 degrees,” explained Alasdair. “It really is quite something, because you’re directly facing the mountain when coming in to land and with such a short runway, there’s not a lot of room for error!”

Despite the intense and unpredictable weather conditions, the majority of the group were able to catch their flights, with only 4 people having to helicopter in a little later than planned, due to smog causing their flight to be cancelled.

The expedition itself is around 40 miles (one way) with approximately 8 hours of walking each day and only one rest day in the mix.

“Day one was a push from the get go; we were about 4 hours behind where we needed to be,” said Alasdair. “Due to loss of light, we ended up having to stay in lodges rather than in our tents, as planned.”

Whilst this enabled the group to sleep a little better than initially anticipated, the loss of time on the first day meant they were playing ‘catch-up’ on day 2.

Describing day two as the “toughest of days”, the group completed 12 hours of walking (instead of 8 hours) to get to Hill Ten Hotel, not to be confused with the more well-known ‘Hilton Hotel’, at an altitude of over 1000m.

“The scenery was outstanding as we made our way to Namchey, and the people we met along the way were extremely friendly,” said Alasdair. “We took in the ravine, Hillary’s bridge and managed to tackle the 400m climb up rocky steps, which took us 3 hours alone.”

Day three was a rest day for the group which included their first proper glimpse of Everest. When asked about preparation for the expedition, Alasdair explained that whilst altitude isn’t something that can be trained for specifically, acclimatisation hikes can be very beneficial.

Alasdair explained, “As altitude increases, there’s about 50% oxygen saturation which makes your muscles tire out quicker. For me, to take on a challenge like this is about 80% mindset. I’d read and been told that if you ‘think Nepalese’, you’re more likely to adapt to the environment around you.”

‘Thinking Nepalese’ included embracing the culture and doing what you’re told or advised by the local people and guides who accompanied the group en-route.

“In the early stages of the route, you’re walking through several villages and you’re reminded that this is their home, and you see plenty of horses and yaks, as the villagers go about their daily life. The Nepalese people born here have adapted to the climate here,” added Alasdair, “and this is reflected in their diet. They don’t eat a lot of meat and they drink a lot of lemon tea.”

Alasdair took this approach to his own diet and found it significantly reduced his altitude sickness as the trek progressed.

The group were accompanied by 5 guides along the way and 10 porters, who spread themselves amongst the trekkers to help everyone keep pace, and to assist with carrying the 15kg bags for each group member.

Day four brought about a change in the scenery, moving from the luscious greenery to more rocky and volcanic surroundings as the group arrived in Lobouche, approximately 4,190m above sea level and sitting at the foot of the Khumbu Glacier.

BNI meeting-everest_web

Moving into day five, with a solid 6 hours of climbing, and the group made history by holding the highest ever Business Networking International (BNI)

At an altitude of 5164m and set against the backdrop of Mount Everest, Gorak Shep was the chosen location for this historic event, and Alasdair, in his role as Executive Director of BNI Northumbria, opened the meeting with 19 BNI members attending in person, with more joining in online.

The group made their final ascent to Base Camp on day six, where temperatures plummeted to around -20 degrees Celsius.

“The sense of achievement felt by everyone in the group was significant. It’s only when you finally make it to the destination, you begin to realise in some way what an achievement it really is,” reflected Alasdair. “It was emotional as we each began to share some of what it meant to us on a personal level to have made it to Base Camp. For many, it was about doing something big, stretching themselves and challenging themselves to do something that is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

When asked about his own takeaways and reflections on the expedition, Alasdair said, “For me, it was something I wanted to do for myself; for my own character and satisfaction. My whole life, whether it be my career, friendships and connections, I’ve always chosen to serve others. Sitting at Base Camp and taking stock, it was very grounding and provided a rather unique perspective on life.”

Whilst the expedition had such a huge impact on Alistair’s personally, he and the group managed to raise an incredible £2,333 to be split across three local charities within the Northumbria region: St Oswald’s Hospice, True Colours Theatre and The Three Tumours.

“It’s wonderful to be able to continue to give something back to these local charities. I’d like to extend my thanks to Joe Alexander, of Alexander Adventures, who organised and led our fantastic expedition. It’s been a truly unique and unforgettable experience.”

On behalf of all at St Oswald’s Hospice, we’d like to say a big thank you to Alasdair and all within the BNI Northumbria Chapter, and the other Chapters represented, for taking on this challenge and raising a fantastic amount of money.

To find out more about Business Network International, visit their website.

If you’re inspired to take on a challenge in support of St Oswald’s Hospice, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us at supportercare@stoswaldsuk.org or head to our Events on our website.


Check out some pictures below from Alistair’s trek to Mount Everest:

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