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Tuesday, 30 April 2019

In Hillary’s Footsteps to Everest Base Camp led by Peter Hillary and Robert Anderson in April 2019

Photo: In Hillary's Footsteps team at Everest Base Camp
This unique trek to Everest Base Camp was led by Peter Hillary and Robert Anderson. Peter is a very accomplished mountaineer and is the son of the late Sir Edmund Hillary. Robert led the first ascent of a new route without oxygen on the Kangshung Face of Everest. Both Peter and Robert have summited Everest twice, walking along the same trail we will be taking.

Peter’s sons, George and Alexander Hillary, and daughter, Lily Hillary, as well as Robert’s daughter, Phoebe Anderson, joined the trek so it was a real family event. All of the Hillarys and Andersons were involved with the leadership by sharing their personal insights and history of the iconic first ascent of Mount Everest, as the group followed in Sir Edmund’s footsteps to Base Camp.

We customised our Everest Base Camp itinerary to reflect the Hillary legacy, meeting Sherpas and visiting unique places full of climbing and Nepalese history.

I have copied below a summary of how the trek went from Robert Anderson:

We were in Gorak Shep at 5,164 meters (16,942 feet) for the evening, with our grand finale, the trek to Everest Base Camp set for dawn the next day. It was snowing, blowing and a few were feeling just a bit of altitude. Two of us went out for tea and needed to battle our way back with headlamps through the blizzard, dodging snow covered Yaks and avoiding the inevitable lurking snow leopard.

At sunrise the day was clear, the wind had died, much of the snow had blown away and we rallied - with porridge and omelettes and chapatis inside us we set a brisk pace up the hill under a warming sun. We crested the glacial moraine and headed out onto the ice of Khumbu Icefall. With no less than 4 Hillary family members with us, we definitely had our choice of “In Hillary’s Footsteps” to follow. With 100% of our 18 strong team in attendance, it was a good moment to celebrate.

Base Camp was radiant and warm, we raised our ski sticks high, explored the base of the icefall and wandered back through the heart of Base Camp.

Our trek had treated us to one unique adventure after another, with plenty of good fortune along the way. From catching the last day of direct flights from Kathmandu-Lukla, to meeting up with long time friends of the Hillarys in Khumjung, to a daily inspirational quote from Sir Ed to move us forward through the days.

While our trek had followed much of the classic route, ascending the Kunde Ridge at dawn with Peter Hillary and his kids provided us a rare moment and a perfect start to a day with no other people around, in the shadow of Everest at the Hillary memorials. On the way down from EBC, we skirted Tengboche and went round the mountain on the spectacular and scenic trail to Phortse, sighting Himalayan Thar below us and Lammergeirs flying high above.

With a daily talk by Peter or ‘the kids’ we had an ongoing adventure with Hillary and Tenzings first ascent ever at the fore, from letters Ed had written home, to writings from the ‘53 team to words and photos of inspiration, to ponder on our trek to Everest Base Camp. Take a look on YouTube for Lily Hillary and Phoebe Anderson’s post dinner talk about their “Mountaineering Dads” when they took the stage in Dingboche to set the record straight.

At our final celebratory dinner in Kathmandu, many of us were plotting new challenges, and in the words of one of my favourite Hillary quotes from when Ed first stood atop Everest, ‘looking beyond’ to our own next adventure.

Photo: post trek celebration meal at Le Sherpa

I have copied below an AITO review received from one member of this group:

"Top people who know their business and know the terrain, the challenges, the many details of a long, complicated trip, and are able to adapt to the changing needs of the group and somehow manage to run a successful trip at great odds" 

Thanks very much to all of the guides and congratulations to the whole group  and I am delighted that everyone successfully walked to Everest Base Camp.

Trek on!

Roland Hunter

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