Dubai: A Dubai based 14-year- old Indian expat student has scaled the Everest Base Camp (EBC).
Sanchi Singla, a year 9 student also hoisted her school flag atop the base camp following her successful ascent.
With several lessons learnt, Sanchi shares her experience scaling the Everest Base Camp.
Sanchi said it all started when her father called her into his room one day and asked if she would scale the EBC. “At first I thought he was joking but when I knew he was serious, I began to slowly comprehend what he had said. It seemed like a very challenging and exciting proposition.”
She did her due research on the challenges of such a massive adventure. “It was going to be a life-changing experience and I was in it from the go.”
Training for the ascent
Sanchi said she first started with a one hour gym training focusing on cardio and strength endurance. “I did squats, lunges, burpees, box jumps to build my muscle and leg strength. The gym sessions became more serious and more focused in the last three months before the trek. I started with 18 per cent incline walks on treadmills and stair master (going up to 400 floors) with five kg backpack, HIIT sessions, swimming, cycling, yoga (for flexibility), pranayama (for breathing) evenly distributed over two hours / six days a week - daily sessions. I went for hikes in January and February with my family to get used to the natural terrain on hikes. We made healthy changes to our lifestyle like altering the diet to add more nutrition, eating early, cutting out excessive carbohydrates and oil,” said Sanchi.
Balance between assignments and training
Sanchi who studies at the Dubai International Academy (DIA), said managing school assessments and training for EBC was a rather overwhelming affair. “On many days, I was distracted with my studies. But I could not let my grades drop. So many days, I would exercise at home as this would save the time going to and coming from gym. My results were maintained, and my training wasn’t halted.”
Nerves acting up close to the trek date
“Days to the trek were nearing, and my nerves seemed to be acting up too. I felt nervous but excited, happy but sad, intimidated but confident. I was like a potion with a whole combination of conflicting emotions embodying me. I started thinking why I was this? Why would I waste my time? What was my reason? In all honesty, I didn’t find it till the last day. I had convinced myself that I was just doing this for the recognition I would get for university, I hadn’t realised that the real reason behind my actions was to spend more time with my family and get another perspective towards life,” she said.
Saanchi said the family met their tour guide after arriving in Kathmandu, Nepal. “After introductions, we headed to our hotel where we spent a night to pack our luggage into four duffel bags. That night we had our final decent meal before our daily intake of lentil soup and rice began. We proceeded to the helicopter, and I was ecstatic to take my first helicopter ride. We set off to Lukla where our trek began.”
She said: “The first day was the easiest but as we went up it became harder. From Dingboche (4360m), we started feeling the thinning of air and lack of oxygen distinctly. The treeline vanished and the landscape started becoming more and more barren with only the snow-capped Himalayan giants all around us. It wasn’t advisable to take showers as it could lead to us getting very sick.”
Sanchi explained There were hardly any tea houses with attached toilets thereafter. “From here till EBC we had to constantly grease our mental sanity because the amenities, food, temperature, oxygen, everything started to become tougher and sparse. Now, we were in the world of no hot showers (wet wipes were our only hope to clean ourselves), no electricity (there were solar panels which worked only when sun shone sometimes), no internet, no attached toilets (which was a big problem specially at night when temperatures dropped below freezing point and we had to leave our cosy sleeping bag and attend to nature’s call in darkness and sometimes iced floors), no appetite (we had to force ourselves to eat the same food in spite of not having any taste or intent left for it because AMS was sometimes playing it’s game with us).”
She recalled pain constantly appeared in different parts of her body that refused to subside even with painkillers. “What I didn’t realise was that all of this was building my character. Every day was harder, and not because of the treks but because my mental capacity was draining and so was my adrenaline. I saw the hardships that Sherpas were facing in the mountains. They lived without our most prized possession, technology, amenities, comfort. I felt thankful like never before, for all the things that I had back in Dubai, which the natives didn’t have easy access to, and yet they lived a joyous life. I saw sherpas carrying up to a 130 kgs on their backs and walking with sandals down and up steep slopes. It was truly an inspiring trek, to see people with such tremendous strength, simplicity, and peace in their life.”
Last day the most challenging part
Sanchi said the last day, she woke up at 4am to leave for a 5am trek. “I was tired beyond measure and completely stripped of any strength. I wanted to give up but I didnt. It was one final push that I had to work through, it was this battle of the mind that I realised made Everest Base Camp what it was. It required as much mental strength as physical.”
Successfully reaching EBC
“The feeling that consumed me when I reached my goal was of overwhelming joy. So much so that I started to cry. The profound feeling that had embodied me was inexplicable. I had pushed myself; all the work had paid off. Nothing at that moment mattered as I soaked in my surroundings.
“I hoisted the DIA flag at 5364 meters. I could not feel more thankful and proud for my school had helped me acquire the qualities I needed to reach the base camp.”
On descent, I was consumed with extreme exhaustion, lack of adrenaline and most of all, missing my younger sister.
“As we came down, the luxuries came back, but they didn’t seem important anymore. Not after the life I had just experienced in the past few days. I could live without technology and sophisticated amenities. I could live without an attached bathroom and eating lentil soup and rice, but I didn’t have to because I was fortunate.”