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AUS alum treks to Everest Base Camp
By Louay Khalil
We all have dreams, some big and some small. Some of these dreams will remain just that, dreams. But if we work hard to achieve them, these dreams can turn into life-changing experiences. This summer, I fulfilled a big dream of mine. In itself, the dream was simple, to trek to the iconic Everest Base Camp. It took me two weeks and an upward trekking of around 130 kms to reach the base camp.
The camp rises at an altitude of 5,368 meters above sea level. Throughout the trek you walk through the villages in the Himalayas. This is by itself a marvelous experience. It opens your eyes to a whole new culture. You get to know people who, up until then, were totally isolated.
I booked the trip with a tour operator and I didn't know any of the group members I was going to go with. However, the moment we met in Kathmandu, we clicked right away because we all shared the same interests. I did sightseeing on my own in Kathmandu to places such as Boudhanath, one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in the world. Then I flew to Lukla, one of the highest airports in the world and by far one of the most dangerous ones.
Soon after our arrival, we started our trek from Lukla. We slept in guesthouses, and even though the amenities were minimal, if not lacking, the experience was life changing. Such a long trek of around 14 days, 7 hours a day and upward trekking of 130 kms humbles you. It also gives one time to reflect on oneself. Plus, it is hard on the legs.
Right after we passed an altitude of 4,000 meters, we realized that the mind starts to play tricks on you. You start questioning yourself. You ask yourself questions like, why am I doing this? Why am I here? However, once you reach the base camp all the emotions erupt. You forget about the physical challenges and you just embrace the moment. At this point you conquered a challenge. All the hard work pays off. You did a challenge that thousands aspire to do.
This was my second major trek. In 2015, I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest free standing mountain in the world and the highest mountain in Africa. This opened my eyes to trekking and mountain climbing. People ask me why I do this, my answer is always the same: first for the experience and lasting memories; secondly for pride and accomplishment; and thirdly for getting out of my comfort zone.
I encourage everyone who has the same interests to go for this. The weather was amazing, however, it does snow, and the wind can be really harsh, especially when you get close to the peaks. At night it is cold. One of the highlights has got to be the scenery, the majestic 360-degree views.
So if you have any dream, big or small, as much as is possible, go for it. It will be all worth it.
Louay Khalil graduated from American University of Sharjah a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in 2014.