By: Luke Kirkness

It is very rare for student groups to make it to base camp together. Photo / Supplied

In a rare feat, 23 secondary school students battled their way through altitude related illness and fatigue to reach Mount Everest Base Camp.

After trekking for 12 days in Nepal’s Khumbu Valley, all members of the Botany Downs Secondary College group successfully reached base camp, 5360 metres above sea level.

The group’s local guide – with 20 years experience – said that he has never reached base camp with a school group and that it was rare for every member of a large group to make it.

Head of the BDSC outdoor education department, David Williams, said he has “never been prouder” of his students on Facebook.

“I cannot think of a time in my nine-year teaching career that I have been prouder of my students.

“Many of them have needed to dig deep to push past sickness, personal struggles, altitude headaches, fatigue, homesickness, boredom and lack of sleep in order to ensure that all 26 of us stood at the base of the world’s largest mountain.”

The group flew into Tenzing-Hillary Airport in the town of Lukla. Photo/Supplied

The group spent most of the year training, frequently doing hikes and gym and running sessions after school.

Once in Nepal, many of the students suffered acute mountain sickness.

“Some of them didn’t climatise very well and had to go through the vomiting and pretty severe headaches.

“That’s what made them a whole lot emotional as well, having to dig deep because they felt vulnerable, it just made the whole experience a lot more real,” Williams told the Herald.

Humbled by seeing how basic the schools and other facilities on the trip, it put things into perspective about how lucky we are in New Zealand for the students.

“The expedition was for the experience, to get them out of their comfort zones and discover who they are.

“I think they got quite a lot by reflecting on how good we’ve got it back here,” Williams said.

Flying the flag at base camp on Mount Everest. Photo/Supplied

Williams facilitated with World Expeditions to get the group to base camp with the expertise of their local guides.

He said it was pretty special to make it there and they could not have done it without them.

“I facilitated with them to get the whole thing off the ground, we used their local guides and knowledge and they put the whole package together.

“(It was) pretty incredible watching 23 people transform over three weeks.

“They (the students) were all there for quite different reasons, and even though we did the exact same thing, they all got different things out of it,” Williams said.

Source: NZ Herald

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