OUTDOORS + RECREATION

Weber State outdoor group conquers climb to Mount Everest base camp

Jun 24, 2024, 3:00 PM

A group of Weber State University students, faculty, and community members pose with the school's flag at Mount Everest's south base camp on May 2, 2024. (Weber State University)

(Weber State University)

KHUMBU, Nepal — In April, a group of 16 Weber State University students, faculty members, and community members embarked on a service-learning trip to Nepal. It concluded with a successful journey to the south base camp of Mount Everest.

Before their hike to the base of Everest, the group spent time sightseeing and volunteering in Kathmandu. A WSU press release said the group stopped at schools and monasteries, where they helped with different tasks. 

Everest’s south base camp sits at an elevation of 17,598 feet. For comparison, the highest point in Utah is King’s Peak. At its highest, it is only 13,528 feet in elevation, per the Utah Geological Survey.

On May 2, the press release said the group reached the south base camp, unfurling their school’s flag and posing for a photo. 

The journey to Mount Everest’s base

According to a press release from WSU, the trip was years in the making. Preparation began in 2019. 

Vallerie Littleton, the president of the Apa Sherpa Foundation and a WSU alum helped coordinate the trip. The foundation helps support education in Nepal, per the press release. 

Hayley Prine, the coordinator for the WSU Outdoor Program, said “Apa Sherpa believes that education is the tool to children having a choice about their futures.”

According to the press release, Prine helped scout the route the group would take, so that she was familiar. 

Then, the group took part in monthly pre-trip meetings. They discussed equipment, medical considerations, and the culture of Nepal, per the press release. 

Climbing Mount Everest is notoriously dangerous due to high elevation and sometimes treacherous conditions. There are two base camps, the north camp in Tibet, and the south camp in Nepal. 

Both camps play an important role in any climber’s journey. Per National Geographic, they sit at the highest elevation where humans can survive long-term. 

As climbers work on acclimatizing, or getting used to, the thinner air above the base camps, they can return to them to rest and recuperate. 

The higher a climber goes, the less oxygen that is available. 

At between 18,000 and 19,000 feet, National Geographic said that human bodies begin to enter a state of decay. If climbers do not spend enough time acclimatizing, or getting used to the higher elevations, they can develop Acute Mountain Sickness.

One student reflects on his trip to Mount Everest base

Cameron Dunn was one of the WSU students on the trip. He is a senior majoring in emergency medicine, per the press release. 

In the months before the trip, Dunn said he trained for several hours a day, backcountry skiing and hiking with his dog. 

Despite his efforts to prepare, Dunn said that he realized the journey was more difficult than he planned. 

“Pushing myself to complete long days of hiking at the altitudes that we experienced was hard,” said the WSU student. “There were some days that I just wanted to stop and take a nap or give up, especially when I got sick, but pushing forward and completing the day in a reasonable time was greatly satisfying.”

According to the press release, Dunn said that he discovered new levels of endurance during his adventure. 

He added that his favorite parts of the trip were the ends of the days. He spent time sitting and reading or reflecting. 

“A small group of us would spend some time outside the lodge every evening. We would chat, watch the sunset and enjoy the stars,” Dunn said in the press release. 

Prine also shared some highlights from the trip. 

“A huge highlight of the trip was seeing students experience the culture and practices of Nepal and knowing that they were taking in new ideas and respecting people and practices that are unfamiliar to them,” Prine said.

WSU offers adventure trips to students throughout the year, said the press release. 

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Weber State outdoor group conquers climb to Mount Everest base camp