Mike Deane admits he’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Despite losing his sunglasses on the way down, falling twice (again, on the way down) and suffering migraines from the high altitude, the 31-year-old Surrey man would head back into the Himalayas in a heartbeat.
Deane hiked up to Everest Base Camp in October during a two-week trek with nine other Canadian and American volunteers with WaterAid Canada, a chapter of a non-profit organization that works to build and support safe water, sanitation and hygiene projects in 37 countries throughout the world.
Deane joined WaterAid two years ago, inspired by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge phenomenon of 2014.
He raised more that $2,000 for WaterAid this year and $9,000 last year.
Deane says he chose clean water over a specific disease because focusing on it would have a greater global impact.
And rather than just raise money and leave it at that, Deane left behind his girlfriend Sian and cat Hubert and put his feet to work – seeing for himself WaterAid’s projects in Nepal since the April 2015 earthquake that killed 9,000 people and damaged many clean water sources.
He visited schools and villages outside the capital Kathmandu and saw how water treatment equipment worked to help locals.
The trek to Base Camp took nine days, with five to nine hours of hiking each day. (The descent took four days).
Some days, the hikes were loops to give the hikers time to get acclimated to the altitude.
Deane describes great changes in the terrain and foliage each day, from oxygen-rich rhododendron forests to nothing but rocks to challenge one’s footing.
“It was the most beautiful region I’ve ever seen.”
Everest Base Camp – actually the first of several base camps used by climbers – is at an altitude of 18,000 feet, or 5,350 metres above sea level.
Mountain climbers who plan to venture further up usually spend days or weeks at Base Camp to get used to the high altitude.
While the camp is full of tents during climbing season, Deane says that while he was there in the off-season, “essentially, it’s like a bunch of rocks on a glacier.”
The group stayed at Base Camp for three hours, long enough for pictures and celebrations.
Looming in the distance was the great Everest, the top of the world, higher by some 3,500 metres.
“I always wanted to see it,” says Deane.
For more about the charity, visit wateraidcanada.com/