Exciting Action at Base Camp 2012!

Today we got up early and prepared to depart base camp. I was feeling ok and had achieved a dream…but there is a long way to go. My feet were tingling and my right hand was real cold. It had escaped my sleeping bag during the night and my arm had gotten a bit icy. Nothing really more than like when you are a kid and play outside too long in the snow. But uncomfortable none the less.

Mani was already gone from camp, so Nadja and Kadji left with me ahead of the bunch. The plan for the trek today was to head for Peroche. But the Heli Pad was finished and we were all headed there first because we were told a Heli was coming in. Big excitement for Base Camp at 17,500 feet up!  As we all

The Whole Bunch at Base Camp!

gathered and were told how far to stay back, I took a perch on Kadji’s back pack and was just right for the view. It was cold but as the sun came up over the high Himalaya‘s warmth immediately took over that feeling and it was quite comfortable sitting out on the glacier.

Soon we could hear the wafting of the Heli blades from far down the canyon. Everyone began to chatter to one another. The Heli came in, circled and went off. Then You could hear someone say..”no…..cannot go that fast….cannot go that fast…..”. Then the Heli came over again and made another circle and touched down. Everyone was covering their faces from the wash of the blades. The men jumped out and

And we lift off the Heli-pad

took off some supplies and then gave a signal. Suddenly, Kadji grabbed one of my arms and Deana the other and lifted me from my comfortable spot. Mani had my duffel and my pack and they were both tossed into the Heli just ahead of me. Just that fast the door was closed behind me and I was lifting off in what was the first Medi-lift of the 2012 Everest Climbing Season. My whole team was below me waving as I was taken from my beloved Glacier.

You see, what I did not tell you was that I was so exhausted and so low on O2 when I had arrived the night before that Deana, my Mountain Madness Guide, had serious concerns about me. She gave me options about walking out much slower, as our pace was to pick up over the coming days, and I had no extra energy as it was. That would leave me alone in the mountains with a Sherpaat Tea Houses as my energy allowed. I would miss my international flight

Leaving Lukla on second leg of Heli-trip

and have little support going out. That seemed like a far less safe way home than to be shipped out via Heli. Very serious stuff up here in the Khumbu. I borrowed a phone and we called my Brother, Joe, to let him know what was going on. I ate soup. lots of soup. But still was not able to really eat anything else. The food was so good, too!

My roommate had laid out my bag and pad and pretty much everything was done for me. I spent the night listening to the ice crack and the avalanches and knowing tat in the morning I was leaving on a heli and would never see or feel any of this again. I fought the feeling of failure and knowing that some would look at this trip in that way. But they didn’t have boots on the ground, up and down the mountains. They did not have my dream so they cannot end my dream. I was cold at times and could not get real comfortable, but that did not dampen the truth. I DID IT!

Mani Sherpa. I love this guy. He is strong and responsible and happy. He got me there. It is always the Sherpa when the going gets tough. Don't let anyone tell you any different.

As I looked at my team mates below and lifted off into the morning sky, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I had not got to know them the way I would have liked. I was never with them during the long days to chat and joke and build the kind of camaraderie that they built together. And I could see it. I was not left out, it was just the way it was.

The end of the scariest runway in the world!

Soon I was at Lukla, where we had all been what seemed eons ago, though was only 8 days. I was confused since we were supposed to be going to Katmandu. But things are never that easy in Nepal. So I stood, feeling tired and weak, aside the heli pads at Lukla watching the planes come in and out of the scariest airport ever. No real protection between me and the planes and copters wondering what would happen next.

About two hours went by and the same copter that had brought me from the glacier whisked me up again and by gosh it was the ride of a lifetime! That copter hugged hills, buzzed roof tops and dodged weather over every hill and dale between Lukla and Katmandu. It was the longest roller coaster ride of my life and thrill does not begin to define it.  After and hour or more of that I was at the big airport again in Katmandu and a tiny ambulance awaited my

Ambulance time!

arrival. Along with my Mountain Madness man who rode with me to the clinic. We headed through the crowded streets of Kathmandu and the tiny siren tweeting atop the capsule was barley even audible in the loud and busy city.

But alas, we arrived at the clinic and inside I went to undergo a barrage of testing. Blood samples were drawn and and ECG performed. Funny thing that ECG. Giant Frankenstein like clamps were attached to each ankle and wrist. Then funny little suction cups around my chest. The paper feeding through the machine sounded loud as a chain saw. I felt like the machinery was right out of the 50’s.  (But I also felt awful and dirty having had no shower since Namche Bazaar.) The doctor ordered IV and some juice! So I lie in the bed in a funny little room that seemed to house two such beds with a separator curtain along with odds and ends of furniture from other parts of the facility. But it was clean and comfortable.

A nurse came to talk to me. She was a Sherpa woman. She went to school with Babu Chiri Sherpa‘s second eldest daughter. Her own father had died some years earlier leading men up Everest. It is common here if you are of the Sherpa people to have family on that mountain.

I spent the day sleeping the sleep you have when you are in a car. When the IV’s had run all of their healing juices into my veins they turned me loose. Sagar came and got me and followed my cab to the Yak and Yeti. I showered. Boy did I shower. I went and ate and came up to my room and went to bed. It was raining hard. There was lightning in the very skies I had just cone through a few hours before. I though of my friends in the mountains coming down and I was sad not to be with them. The rain beat down on the windows. and I smiled. I had done it. I had made it to Base Camp. I do not know all that it means to me yet, but I do know it means more than I can articulate here. Oh, and yeah. I am getting pictures in again. More later!

First bed I slept in for days~

About WhelanTrek

The mountains are in my blood and Everest has been a symbol to so many areas of my life. I blog about adventures and life in between.

Posted on April 9, 2012, in 2012 Nepal, 2012 Trek to Mount Everest Base Camp, Hiking, In Nepal and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Karen, to paraphrase Dr. Seuss, those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter. What you’ve done is amazing. And I am glad you are safe & resting as best you can. Makes me think of those times a case settles on the eve of trial…I mean, you want to keep fighting but the outcome is really about balancing the risks and not about what someone on the outside might think. Much love & hugs!


  2. Inspiring, Karen. So glad you are down safe and you achieved your amazing goal. You have a real gift for writing, by the way.


  3. WOW Karen, you are amazing! I just caught up with your blog and have read your journey. So glad you are safe, and amazed at your perseverance. Our God is Good and His beauty Magnificant. Can’t wait to see your pics!


  4. You reached your goal and had a fantastic ride afterwards – I’m so impressed and am glad that you are safe and healthy. What a memory you will have. Kudos, Karen!


  5. Ginelle Holyoak

    Karen I have to tell you tears of joy were running down my cheeks reading this post. I can only imagine the joy you feel accomplishing that journey to Base Camp. This trip is one of the peak success stories in your life and I’m sure there are many more to come. I am so relived that you are ok. You are truly an inspiration to me.


  6. Julie Cordahl

    Karen, You did it, YOU made it to base camp. I hope you never look back on this as failure because it isn’t. Many people just dream their dream but you went out and did it, I am so proud of what you accomplished. Also, you have an entire different story to remember too, the heli flight through the mountains, as scary as that might have been. Glad you are resting and safe. Blessings for you on your trip back to the states.


  7. Ok… I can breathe again.. I am so proud of you, my friend! You should feel nothing but the feeling of exhilaration as a goal accomplished, with Gods guidance, and your faith in that ability. Well done. Karen, well done!!!!


  8. The right call for sure. Dream accomplished!
    Do they have a Bailey’s IV? That’ll fix you right up!


  9. Stacey. No Baily’s IV. I am resting at the Yak and Yeti. All the rest hear in a couple days. Though the [power is spotty so they ahve been running a generator outside my window til 11 tonight. So I am in the lobby people watching.


  10. Karen! So glad to hear that they took good care you! I too read this with tears. I can feel your disappointment at having to leave, and I am sorry that you walk away with any disappointment at all. I hope it is short lived for you. What you accomplished is AMAZING!! You achieved your goal! And may I remind you… it was a pretty lofty goal! You will never be the same! I want to say Thank you also! This has been an event in my life as well. I thought about you constantly. I told everyone that I could corner about what this amazing friend of mine was doing! CONGRATS kAREN! THIS WAS AWESOME!!

    PS It must have been tough hauling all of us with you! :o) Talk about extra weight! :o)


    • HA HA! It was support havig all of you along. I am not too disappointed. I did what I did and I rode the freaking heli down too! That was an unexpected adventure in itself!


  11. Kelley Gallagher hanon

    Wow. Just…wow. Like Gigi & Jodie, I had tears in my eyes as I read this (as with some of your other posts as well). I can’t even BEGIN to imagine the strength & courage such a journey requires. Even in the midst of the challenges you faced (and overcame)…your kind, positive, grateful *spirit* has shone through. Thank you for sharing your personal thoughts with us, Karen. Thank you for taking us “with” you. I can’t explain it…but YOUR adventure has changed me too. To say you “inspire” me seems a little trite at this point. But by sharing so profoundly with us, you offered so much insight into what it means to be truly challenged. I feel I can (and should!) push myself harder & further than I have been comfortable with to this point. You did it! You made your dream come true! I am so happy for you and so thankful for your willingness to share it all with all of us. :o) Be well, rest-up and get home safely!


  12. Ms. Karen: Good choice to come down in the Heli! Better safe than sorry. You put up a superb effort and deserve great praise for your persistence! That was an experience you or I will never forget. Thanks for your excellent well-written posts! Now work on that book!


  13. kim oglethorpe

    I am sooooooo proud of you! You did something most people only talk of and you never gave up. Who cares if you came down in a helo, you made it up and saw what you wanted to see and slept where you wanted to sleep and heard what you went to hear. You made friends and got a cool nickname. You impressed alot of people and did more than some would say was humanly possible. I have pushed myself to the point of exhaustion and I know it is an easy place to give up in. You never did even when you had every reason to. I wish I could give you a big high 5, and a hug but I know you hate those, lol. You are so brave. I am so glad you got to have the adventure of a lifetime, now what is next? Just joking, rest first then tell us what is next. Love you so much and agian, so proud. Your friend, Kim


  14. I am relieved to hear you took the safe way back, & that you are now feeling better. I was scared as I read your post, knowing how hard you work at accomplishing goals, but should have remembered that you are no dummy so I wiped my tears & am SO happy that you made it! You actually made your dream come true!
    When I read about what your Dad had been through, I couldn’t help but wonder what thoughts must have been going through your mind, about him, throughout this trip. Now you two have even more in common to chat about when you get back home.
    Thank you again for taking us along, because this mountain is something I will only get to see on my way outta here! I will never forget this trip! 😀
    I love you Auntie!


  15. Thank you for the pictures, Karen! Wow, you have made some friends for life on that climb! Loved reading about landing at the airport, I remember when I landed in Kathmandu 20 years ago how all the dogs scrambled out onto the runway! So glad you made it, I knew you would weather permitting, and can’t wait to hear more. Take care and thank you for bringing us all along–talk about being an armchair traveler in this day and age!


  16. Failure!!!??? This was no failure…this was success turning a dream into reality! You pushed yourself beyond all measure to get to Base Camp! You know what they say…when God closes one door, He opens a window. Your window happened to be a helicopter thrill ride. Nobody else in your group is going to be able to say they experienced that! Seriously..I hope you don’t have the tiniest SHRED of disappointment. You DID it girl. You have inspired me beyond measure.


  17. I said you were my hero and now even more so. What an honorable endeavor you accomplished. Congratulations Karen! What an incredible journey.My heartfelt thanks for sharing. Glad you are safe. Hurry back!


  18. Karen, you are truly an inspiration. I am glad you are doing good and resting.


  19. Karen, What an amazing adventure you have gone through and your writing makes me feel as if I were there. You achieved your dream!…. not many people do. You had courage in the face of adversity and you went on. It’s shows the power of the mind and you are the perfect example that ANYTHING is possible if you want it bad enough. Thank you for sharing your story and I send you get well angels. Vegas and RRSAR misses you. Safe travel – Robin RR22


  20. Big Sis, you are an amassing woman! Hike all the way to base camp and then took a once in a life time ride through the Himalayas in a helicopter! Just think how much that little secondary adventure would have cost you!! 🙂
    You made it and that’s all that maters! Congrats and we all look forward to hearing more and seeing about your trip!



  21. What an amazing journey Karen. You took on a challenge that most people only dream about. You did it! You just went right on and did it Karen. You challenged your very heart and soul, and you Karen are the only one who can say, she yelled out Ron Kirks name over the Himalayas. How awesome is that! Be very proud.


  22. Bill Wentworth

    Your awesome!! I am inspired to reach further because of this story. Thanks much! and again your awesome in all meaning of that word truly.


  23. Karen, I am so proud of you! Your perseverance and positive attitude is inspiring. I am so happy for you that you were able to set out on this “trek” and made it happen. I can’t wait for your travelogue and a lass of wine together! Look forward to your return. See you soon!!



  2. Pingback: The Sherpa Factor | WhelanTrek

  3. Pingback: What is This Thing I Will Do? This Camino de Santiago? | WhelanTrek

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