When you’ve seen a place in your dreams, and 100 times on YouTube, it’s truly special to then see it in front of you. Indeed few things compare to the realization of a dream.

Kumar, my guide, was concerned so he stopped me and reminded me to be careful, that we were walking on ice. In fact we were walking on 1000s of tonnes of ice that formed the spectacular Khumbu Ice Flow spilling down from the foot of Everest. I’d just seen Everest Base Camp in front of me. I was walking on air.

I finally caught up with the main group who’d been out of sight ahead of me all day and stood beside a stone with the words ‘Everest Base Camp, 2016’ painted on it. One of the guys, I think his name was David, took the picture I’d been dreaming of for the past 2 years. Despite the fact I couldn’t keep pace with the group, I’d earned their respect. I may have reached the Base Camp after they did but the magic of reaching it was just as special. You see when you’re overweight and don’t look the part, you have to find the mindset to compensate, that knows you can still do it.

Dare To Dream

Take the risks, experience the pain and disappointment along the way and, for sure, you will find moments of true joy.

Summit of Everest taken from the Everest View Hotel. Everest Base Camp Trek Oct 2016

It may be the case that you feel your dreams are just that. Fantasies that entice you when you’re sleeping or just not paying attention to anything in particular. The realist in you tells you that reality is something less. More within your grasp. Safer. If that is the case then I’d like you to try something just for one minute. Picture that realist as an over protective friend. Someone who loves you and wants to protect you but doesn’t really know you. Imagine the things you might consider doing if they weren’t trying to keep you safe. Who would you be? Where would you go? What would you achieve? Welcome to a dream you just might realize!

I believe that life is something so much richer when our dreams are chased. Take the risks, experience the pain and disappointment along the way and, for sure, you will find moments of true joy.

Yes You Can

Those words became a mantra which answered every moment of doubt.

A few years after I’d gone to Everest Base Camp, I came across a mantra that helped me keep believing in myself. High up on Kilimanjaro as we approached the summit, our lead guide, Abraham, kept repeating the words, “Yes you can!” Those words became a mantra which answered every moment of doubt. Though I found myself again behind the main group on Summit Night, those words sung out in my heart and mind every time I wanted to stop. A few years previous I’d have never have thought like this.

I’ve not always believed that I could climb in the high mountains, run marathons or swim in open water. That fact alone held me back for years. Having had the many dreams of adventure, I had to gather the resources that I did have. Book the holidays, raise the money, tell people what I was planning. Slowly but surely I started to realize that I might just do this.

Then I’d start to train and the doubts would rise all over again. Every bad training session, every injury would drive me back to the embrace of my overprotective self. That side of my thinking that was ever present, waiting for me to see the error of my new found ways. Time and again I had to recover and rebel and go back out until I started to feel fit enough to do this.

Training For Everest Base Camp. Ben Vorlich Summit. Oct 2016

I always remember the excitement of sitting with my fried breakfast at Edinburgh Airport ready to board a flight to Abu Dhabi and on to Kathmandu. I’d trained with my brother for months in the Scottish Mountains. He’d seen me exhausted and down hearted. Stuck with me as I moved at a snails pace wondering if we’d ever get safe back to the car. I’d lost count of the number of times the whole idea of heading to Everest Base Camp seemed like a bad joke. But somehow, helped by my brother and our training, I’d held onto a belief that I could do this. And then, at last, I did.

Abel, My Long Suffering Coach On The Mountains Ben More Summit, Oct 2016

Making It Real

I had earned the right to be here.

When I first met the group of my fellow trekkers at our hotel in Kathmandu my doubts started to return. They were friendly and polite and they tried their best but I could see the surprise on their faces. I could see that I was by far the most overweight person in the group. They were all young and mostly looked fit. Their very appearance suggested that this trip to the mountains was their domain. Not mine. I had to quietly remind myself that I had climbed a lot of mountains. That I had earned the right to be here.

After a spectacular flight into the mountains, we soon set out from the small town of Lukla along the trail to Everest. On that first day the pace of the group was fast in the mix of excitement and the perhaps a subconscious need to establish a pecking order of fitness. I was soon well established at the back of the group. Fortunately on that trek there were two others who walked close to my pace so we were never alone.

Runway at Lukla, gateway to Everest. Everest Base Camp Trek, Oct 2016

As our altitude increased and the air grew thinner over the next few days, I learnt the hard way that maintaining a slow and steady pace was vital for survival as much as enjoyment. I’d put in a burst of pace just over 4,000m to catch up with the main group. Suddenly the mountain began to spin and I almost passed out. By the time we reached our Teahouse in Dingboche that afternoon, I was shuffling along way behind everyone.

It was during the acclimatisation climb out of Dingboche next day that I realized, despite my slow pace, that I’d earned the respect of the group. On one of the many stops, I wearily plodded up to where the group were resting. One of the fitter guys who was always at the front commented that every time he stopped for a rest I always managed to walk in before they set off again. He said I just kept coming, like the Terminator. The nickname stuck with me for the rest of that trip and the one the following year to Mera Peak.

Dingboche. Everest Base Camp Trek, Oct 2016

A few days later, past the settlement of Gorac Shep with only a few miles of barren rock between me and Everest Base Camp, I finally thought I would have to stop. I was completely exhausted, the main group were out of sight and there was no one around me. Every single step was followed by a stop and several deep breaths. Suddenly a voice piped up at my shoulder, “Geez! Sean, are you alright?” It was Mel, an Ozzie who lived in London, and Kumar, our main guide. Mel was fine walking at my pace and Kumar re-assured us we could make it. That was all the encouragement I needed and we were soon looking down on Everest Base Camp from the rocks at the side of the Khumbu Ice Flow.

Khumbu Icefall flowing down from the foot of Everest to Everest Base Camp, Everest Base Camp Trek, Oct 2016

Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It

When we put that dream in front of us and push ourselves towards it we can experience exhilaration and joy.

You may have heard the phrase, “Dream it, believe it, achieve it.” accredited to author and Life Coach Tony Robbins. I first came across this phrase at a Slimming World Meeting when I booked a few weeks membership. To me, it serves as a framework for an amazing life.

If you dream it, it’s a part of you, however deep or achievable and whether you like it or not. You just have to believe you can achieve your dreams no matter what anyone else thinks or tells you. Then, sometimes despite the people around you, sometimes with their full support, you need to be determined and humble and do whatever it takes.

Our world has a perception of overweight people. They think we are lazy, irresponsible and impulsive. That exercise and hard work are beyond us. Yet I know we dream like everyone else. When we put that dream in front of us and push ourselves towards it we can experience exhilaration and joy. Such is the joy of walking in the mountains free from the box they put us in.

Everest in the distance on the trail from Namche Bazaar. Everest Base Camp Trek Oct 2016

Learning to carry your weight can be just as amazing as managing to lose it. Learn how by reading this series, Worth Your Weight In Gold, from the start here.

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5 thoughts on “The Dream Of Everest Base Camp

  1. Thanks for your words of wisdom-I have a dream of trekking to base camp too – I’m training very hard but fear I may be the person in the back as well – oh well – your article helped me and I can’t wait to go


    1. Hi Mary, thanks very much for your comment. I hope you get to the Base Camp and have a great time on the journey. The Himalayas really are amazing to see. If you have any questions at all, by all means feel free to ask.


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