I set about making my own creative route to one of Everest’s most famous peaks and memories that would last me a lifetime.
The peak of Lobuche East was my goal and my plan on paper looked something like this:
- Sat: Flight to Lukla and run to Namze Bazar
- Sun: Run to Pheriche
- Mon: Run to Lobuche
- Tues: Run to Everest Base Camp, Khumbu Ice Fall, Khala Patthar and down to Lobuche
- Wed: Reserve day
- Thurs: Reserve day
- Fri: Meet mountain guide in Lobuche to climb Zhongla
- Sat: Climb Lobuche East (6,119m) and run down to Zhongla
- Sun: Run back 1
- Mon: Run back 2
- Tues: Flight to Kathmandu
11 days dedicated to trail running and peak climbing in the Himalayas using only ‘fair means’ and ‘alpine style’. No Sherpa support, just local infrastructure and a meticulous plan I had been working on in the months running up to this adventure.
You can never be too well prepared
Others like altitude are not to be joked about. If you don’t acclimatize correctly you risk your health and even your life.
It was HORRIBLE – the humid air, the humming of the generator and tightness of the tent – but so worth it as I was able to literally hit the ground running when I arrived.
Having my body in the right shape wasn’t the only thing I had to spend time sorting out on home soil. It took me months of phone calls and e-mails with agencies and government officials to get a safe and legal trip up and running. I had to concede to using a Sherpa, or mountain guide, and after an enormous effort I thought my plan was bulletproof. On landing in Lukla however, I realized the guides on the mountains rarely talk with their agency partners. They are basically on climbs 99% of the time.
Negotiating my way to the top
When I eventually met my guide, Domi, I faced a whole new and unexpected challenge. He didn’t believe I could achieve my plan and it was up to me to convince him I wasn’t a tourist climber putting both my life and his in danger.
Reeling off my running and climbing CV fell on deaf ears; Mount Elbrus, Mont Blanc, German U23 6h running champion…he didn’t want to hear about it, he wanted to see it.
The result of getting him on board and trusting in my capabilities meant I reached the top of Lobuche on my terms.
The payoff for my passion
My descent from Lobuche was filled with mini-moments that made all my hard work and preparation worth it. I hadn’t suffered altitude sickness at the top and instead felt so very peaceful and calm. The soup at the hut stop from which we had left the night before at 3am to start the ascent tasted amazing. We had changed out of crampons to lighter shoes to scramble and fast-hike back in 2hrs – what we needed 5hrs for on the way up!
I’m well aware that so much can go wrong during such a climb but for us it didn’t. My preparation, my determination, and passion got me to the top my way and it’s a day I will keep in my mind forever, or at least until I climb my first 7,000m!