A Millennial’s Account of Climbing Everest Basecamp
Cara Durano, CORE Athlete
Since I got back from Nepal, I’ve been staring at my laptop screen clueless as to how I am going to put my Himalayan experience in to words – it’s one of those “you have to experience it yourself to understand it” type of adventures. And so, I realized that I might as well be as raw as possible and share with you some of my personal thoughts – other realizations are way too personal to share and other days I didn’t write – throughout the journey.
I’ve only been seriously hiking since October 2016. So, it hasn’t even been a year and I’ve already been given so many opportunities. Most people who climb to Everest Base Camp (EBC) have been avid hikers for years – And here I am blessed to be among these amazing individuals.
People always ask me how I can enjoy doing this. My answer? Because it’s a physical manifestation of what I’ve been going through in my life. Having depression and anxiety has taken a great toll on me. At such a young age I lost meaning in my life and pushed away almost everyone who was closest to me. It was clear to me that this was a struggle I needed to solve on my own. Hiking has helped me understand myself on a deeper level and it’s given me a renewed appreciation of how beautiful the world out there really is.
More than anything, I had to do this for me, for healing. Hiking takes me to beautiful destinations, not just physically, but within myself. It’s when I hike that I can see things clearly. I find peace. Everything get’s placed in proper perspective. It’s ironic how when I hike I realize how small I am in this world; but it’s when I hike that I feel the biggest. I feel strong. I feel connected. I feel like me.
This was my first time to trek in a different climate and high altitude. More than anything, it has been like a pilgrimage for me. Since we were more or less walking on our own engrossed in our own thoughts, I decided to listen to worship songs – and I have to say, it made the experience even more incredible. I never felt so close and connected to myself and to the heavens. I could feel God’s presence beside me with every step I took on the way.
It’s funny though how we would meet other hikers and everyone seemed to be walking like zombies. The mountains literally spare no one. No matter how fit or prepared you may think you are. The mountains will humble you. Altitude sickness hits even the strongest of athletes. So I made sure to take my time in order to conserve oxygen.
The trick of hiking in high altitudes is to drink a lot of water and really to just take it slow. Altitude sickness is like Mother Nature’s way of saying, “Stop. Take your time and look around you. There is so much for you to see.”
I have to admit though that there was a point today where I really wanted to just give up and lay on the ground. I was so super beat. My legs were aching and I was just moving one foot in front of each other by habit. The high altitude made it extremely difficult to breathe and gave me a massive headache – as if a stampede of elephants were running across my head. But it’s always in these moments when I feel like giving up that I turn on my worship songs and I get the push that I need to keep going. It felt as if God himself was pushing me forward and telling me that He brought me here and He will let me finish it.
Take your time. Don’t compare your pace to how fast others are going. No matter how slow you are, all that matters is that you just keep putting one step in front of the other and you’ll eventually get to where you are supposed to be. Don’t let your pride and ego get in the way of self-care. Keep pushing. Persevere. And fight. But take your time and listen to your body. It’s not a race. It’s a journey. And sometimes you realize that there’s more beauty in what you find along the way than in your actual destination.
Cara Durano was supported by CORE’s Athlete and Expedition Program and Groups’ brands such as Columbia, Keen, Montbell, Mountain Hardwear, The North Face and Black Diamond which are available at Recreational Outdoor eXchange (R.O.X.) in her recent climb at Mt. Everest Base Camp. She will share more of her adventures in one of the upcoming R.O.X. Thursdays talks.