Climbing Mount Everest on her 60th Birthday

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Today’s ‘My Story’  post is by a gorgeous and adventurous woman who hiked to Everest Base Camp in Nepal to celebrate her 60th birthday.

Pam Lynch’s story is one that will inspire you to reach into your own bucket of dreams, maybe get out of your comfort zone. and perhaps go and do, or book something amazing today!  Maybe climbing Mount Everest isn’t your style, but perhaps there’s something else you really want to do?

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A Wow Moment I couldn’t ignore

As we all know life doesn’t always pan out the way we expect it to. So it also goes with travel – you think you know where you’re heading off to next, you’ve got a list and you’re working through it, but suddenly, WHAM, something hits you out of the blues and you’re off in a totally different direction.

So it was with me recently and consequently my travel plans took an interesting twist.

Paris, Italy, Sydney or Mount Everest?

I was planning where to go next – Paris was high on the list or maybe back to Italy or I could take a trip to Sydney, I’ve never been there, but then, out of the blue one of those ‘wow moments’ happened. The ones that you can’t ignore.

Trolling through travel sites I came across a trek to Everest Base Camp to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ascent of that great mountain by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. As soon as I saw it advertised I knew it was for me, I also knew that the friends that I usually travel with wouldn’t be the least bit interested in leaving creature comforts behind and spending 3 weeks sleeping in tents and going without showers and hairdryers, let alone trekking in the Himalayan mountain range.

Why did I feel so compelled to do this? Well, 1953 was a momentous year, it saw not only the successful attempt on the summit of Everest at the end of May but Queen Elizabeth II was crowned a couple of days later and then in the July I was born. A triple whammy, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my 60th birthday than to attempt to step lightly in at least some of Hillary’s footsteps.

Travel blogs helped me

Once the decision was made I jumped onto blogs of people who had done the trek and realised there would be a lot of training involved, even those forty years younger than me often struggled and succumbed to altitude sickness.  I had 10 months to get myself ready so I set a training regime and knew that I had to stick to it. It wasn’t easy but I enjoyed the exhilaration, I walked a lot, looked desperately for hills in the flat Perth area, and I climbed a lot of steps. An awful lot of steps! In the last couple of months I loaded my daypack and walked 10 kms after work 2-3 times a week, with the SAS motto ‘train hard, fight easy’ constantly pounding in my head.

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Adventure in the Himalayas

I did all that I could and felt ready, physically that is, I really didn’t know how I was going to cope mentally. Those months passed quickly and before I knew it I found myself at Kathmandu airport awaiting a flight in a helicopter that would take me up to one of the most dangerous airports in the world at Lukla to begin my adventure in the Himalayas.

There were thirteen of us in the group from Australia, New Zealand, England and Scotland with ages ranging from mid thirties to the eldest at 76 years old and we all made it to Base Camp, a major achievement in itself.

I spent three weeks with a group of strangers who became trusted companions. We became close. We struggled, we were down, we laughed and we kept going.

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Avoiding yaks, donkeys and porters, all loaded to the nines with all manner of equipment, food and building materials, we traversed suspension bridges slung high above the raging glacial rivers, climbed steep uphill sections of track undaunted by the sheer drop to our right and, refusing to be put off by the effects of altitude and the less than salubrious toilet facilities (basic just doesn’t cover it), we forged our way onwards and upwards.

5,500 metres above sea level

After a challenging ten days trek my legs gave way beneath me as I finally stood at Base Camp, five and a half thousand metres above sea level, tears in my eyes, unable to comprehend what I’d just done. I sat on a boulder looking out over the Khumbu icefall while cracking sounds warned of glacial unsettling not far away and reality hit me. I’d done it. I’d walked where Edmund Hillary had walked 60 years ago.

The hardest thing I’ve ever done

This trek was undoubtedly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, physically and mentally and required more of me than I’ve ever been called upon to give, but the sense of achievement as I stood looking up at those mountains was worth every step I took, every boulder I scrambled over and every scary suspension bridge that I crossed.

I’ve been privileged to experience a culture and a landscape that most people don’t have the opportunity to do and I’ve proved to myself that I’m capable of succeeding in whatever I set my mind to.

This trek is not for everyone, it’s not something that I would recommend to everybody as a must do, it’s something you must want to do. But if you do want to do it, then I would highly recommend it.

If I can do it then so can you!

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5 Essential tips for a successful trek

  1. Training – don’t underestimate the fitness needed, set a training regime and stick to it.
  2. Gear – start thinking and buying well in advance and make sure you do your research. There are so many boots and packs and poles out there and you need to know which is best for you otherwise you can waste a lot of money buying the wrong stuff.
  3.  Research – whether it’s Everest, the Bibbulmum Track or the Camino de Santiago, know what you’re in for.
  4.  Diet – along with physical fitness consider what goes into your body leading up to the trek. Antioxidants are very high on the list and of course seeing as that includes dark chocolate and red wine it’s a win win situation.
  5. Adapt your mental attitude – accept that not everything will go according to plan, allow others to take control and learn to relax.

Bio:  Pam, a freelance writer and blogger, is based in Perth but is determined to see and experience as much of the world as possible and she’s just as happy sleeping in a tent in the Himalayas as luxuriating in an upmarket tropical resort. As an insatiable traveller she sees no reason why age should slow her down and two years ago decided to share her love of travel with others of a like mind on her blog Travellingbag. http://www.travellingbag.com.au

Lifestylers, are you planning anything awesome in the near future, or what have you already done that you’re really proud of? Why not tell us in the comments?

[ Do you have a story to share for the My Story section on Lifestyle Fifty? Please contact me if you’d like to suggest something ]

Until next time,

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Comments

  1. This was quite inspirational. I’m a wee bit older, but considering walking the Camino. I know that the physical training will be the biggest challenge. I have a love hate relationship with any form of exercise. I hate doing it, but love ______ – wait there is absolutely NOTHING I love about it. And yet somehow accepting this challenge seems right. Thanks for sharing your story and showing that determination can yield wonderous results!

    • Hi Joanne, yes Pam’s story was amazing wasn’t it! But I think yours is going to be equally amazing 🙂 Would love you to write something for Lifestyle Fifty readers 🙂 I also hate exercise, but do it because it makes me feel better and stops me wobbling like a jelly too much! I think accepting the challenge to walk the Camino is so right – hope the preparation goes well 🙂

    • Joanne, I’d say if accepting this challenge seems right then go for it. It’s amazing how motivated you feel once you have a goal in sight. Good luck 🙂

  2. Thanks for all your comments ladies. The funny thing is when I was training for the trek and then when I was up there it didn’t seem real – that I was going to be standing at Everest Base Camp. It’s only since I’ve been back and everyone has been so supportive and amazed at what I did that I’ve realised the achievement that it was. Really though – anyone with enough determination and passion can achieve whatever they set their mind to.

  3. I’m an adrenalin junkie and my bucket list shows: Skydiving at the age of 50 with 80+ jumps in my log book and aerobatic rides in a glider plane, etc.. I would love to get into better physical shape, but only for downhill skiing with my grandsons, definitely not climbing a mountain. She’s a very impressive boomer.

    • Wow, Neva, you really are an adrenalin junkie. 80+ jumps and aerobatic rides in a glider plane too – you have nerves of steel – good on you! Looking forward to hearing news of or seing pics of the downhill skiing escpades 🙂

  4. What a fantastic and inspiring story, Pam. Climbing Mt Everest is not one of the things on my bucket list but I really admire your dedication to training and eating properly in the months leading up to your trek. I can only imagine the exhilaration and sense of achievement you must have felt when you reached the summit. You rock!

  5. WOW! amazing! what an achievement at 60! As I near that age I doubt I could climb Everest – but who knows where the track will take me – but first to start a fitness regime! I want to look as fit and healthy as Pam does!

    • Jill, with some training I’m sure you could do it – never say never. Here’s to an eating and fitness plan that will have us as trim and healthy as Pam!

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