on 17th March Helen White boarded a plane to Nepal to take on the greatest challenge of her lifetime. Helen self-funded the trip which lasted 2 weeks aiming to climb 17,500 feet whilst experiencing half the amount of oxygen and with temperatures down to -15 in the process. Helen did this with one sefless aim in mind. She wanted to raise as much money as possible for Different Strokes. Helen’s partner Gavin suffered a stroke 7 years ago, here she explains why Different Strokes meant enough to her to take on this mind blowing feat:
” My partner Gavin had a couple of strokes 7 years ago. His life changed forever in the space of 24 hours. Different Strokes changed things again. His fellow survivors picked him up, supported him, understood him and helped him reclaim his life. Without Different Strokes, he would not be the person he is today. Until recently, Gavin was chair of Different Strokes, working to ensure the charity was there for all younger stroke survivors, wherever they may be in the UK. My challenge is nothing compared to what these amazing survivors put themselves through everyday to make sure their stroke doesn’t beat them.”
Helen has done amazingly well and had such a tough time, with weather conditions meaning she didnt’t quite make it to base camp but, oh my what a woman!! She did her damdest and raised an AMAZING £6,200 which is a HUGE amount and will make such a difference to our small charity. This money will enable us to continue offering our network of services for stroke survivors and will have a huge impact.
If you would like to sponsor Helen you still can HERE
On behalf of us all at Different Strokes we salute you! Your bravery, generosity and spirit know no bounds and we are so thankful for all you have done!
Below we share some excerpts from Helen’s diary:
Day 1 of the trek and the flight was delayed due to poor visibility in Kathmandu. The flight to lukla was interesting – I’ve never flown so close to the ground other than when landing. Some of those hillsides were pretty darned close! We trekked for 4.5 hours, a nice easy day as 95% of it was downhill. Tomorrow’s a tough day, all uphill to Namche Bazaar. The scenery is just beyond stunning, snow capped mountains, pine trees, spring flowers and complete silence apart from birds and bells… which means get to the side of the path, the yaks or donkeys are coming!
Two nights without Wi-fi and no electricity last night! But I’m having a great time and loving the ABSOLUTELY SPECTACULAR views! Today we’ve reached Pangboche at a height of 3930m or 13,100 feet. The weather is now starting to get a bit chilly after about 2pm and tonight we have an outside loo to boot!! The temperature will be well below zero in the rooms so thank goodness for 4 season sleeping bags and extra blankets. I even wore a hat to bed last night!! 🎩 we walked to just over 4000m earlier before dropping back down to our tea lodge.
Tomorrow we have another acclimatisation walk to Ama Dablam base camp at 4600m. Hard work, cold, windy and so worth it!!
Here’s me entering the Sagamartha National Park. Sagamartha is the local name for Everest. Apparently there are snow leopards roaming wild but we have zero chance of seeing them! Not sure if that’s good or bad!
This is the Hillary suspension bridge. It was a LONG way down to the river below. There were a load of yaks waiting to cross from the other side but, as we’ve found out, there’s always one rebel yak and it decided it wasn’t going to wait and came straight across, loaded up, full of attitude! Everyone was throwing themselves to the side of the bridge to get out of the way! Great fun. We’re now in the routine of hearing the bells, shouting “yak attack” and jumping off the path!
Today was an acclimatisation walk to Thame at 3800m. It took 7.5 hours and I have to say I found it found the hardest day so far. Very heavy legs on the 2 hours before lunch. The trek back, we descended into cloud and it was snowing! I was glad to get back to namche and a hot shower, our last one for a good week! Sats were up to 91% that evening evening so it must have done some good! Overnight the temperature dropped to -10!
Our first glimpse of everest – it’s that tiny triangular blob in the centre! Ok, so it’s still some distance away! I had a real spring in my step today, so much better than the acclimatisation Day yesterday! The scenery just keeps getting better at every turn. The mountains are just impossibly tall. You think you’ve seen this incredibly high mountain and then realise that there’s more of it above the clouds!
6.5 hour acclimatisation trek up to Ama Dablam base camp at 4440m or 14,800 feet! That’s a lot of uphill. Steep uphill! Well worth it though, it was stunning. You can’t beat having a lunch of Tibetan bread, yak cheese and a hard boiled egg whilst sitting in the sunshine in a dried up glacial lake, staring up at the most beautiful mountain ever. What a privilege. Beyond awesome.
The cloud soon rolled in after lunch & we started back down again, wrapped up in lots of layers, hats, gloves, and it was chilly in the wind. The streams up near base camp are still frozen over. The one thing that surprised me was the amount of sand. It was like walking through sand dunes! Shattered this afternoon, very weary legs from LOTS of uphill.
We arrived in Dingboche after a 4 hour slog in a chilly wind but bright sunshine. You can see the coloured buildings in the centre of the photo. I had a smashing headache which started as we came into the village but I’m not sure if it was altitude or hunger. Probably a bit of both as I wolfed down lunch and a couple of ibuprofen and feel right as rain now! We’re now here for 2 nights at 4440m or 14,800 feet and the cloud is rolling in with snow forecast this afternoon and evening and overnight lows of -11. I have a nice gap in the wooden wall by my bed and I can see outside through it. The bonus is we have an inside loo for the next 2 nights! Yay! A right result seeing as there were lumps of ice in the sink this morning when we got up!
Well, day 8, here we are. The solar power cut out at 9 last night and we all got sent to bed rather early. The toilets froze overnight which was rather unpleasant with a busy tea lodge! No running water either! Thanks to Fay & Ian for my fleecy socks which kept me incredibly warm and toasty last night. We had another sprinkling of snow last night but it was fine enough to go out for an acclimatisation walk this morning. Unfortunately. Bloomin’ hard work again as we just walked straight up from the village. We made it up to 4880m (16,260 feet) before our guides stopped us and sent us back down as the wind was getting too dangerous. I have never been so pleased in my life as I’m not sure how much further I could go, to be honest. The headache had kicked in, breathing was hard work, the ground was pretty treacherous and all you can do is plod. Slowly. I went to bed for an hour after lunch and feel brill again. Tomorrow we leave for Lobuche and then, the day after, it’s Base Camp. Fingers crossed!
It’s been a tough one, mainly because I’ve finally caught the cold that’s been going round and it kept me awake most of the night as well. I struggled to get going this morning but bucked up later. We had a 5 hour trek to Lobuche which was exhausting, particularly the climb up to the Everest memorial which is the most beautiful place, and the most fitting, to remember all those who have lost their life on the mountain. There were so many, of all ages and nationalities, but all the memorials were so positive. And they will forever remain surrounded by the mountains they loved.
Well, a real mixed day today. Crap night sleep again due to my cold but I felt better this morning. Woke up to 3 inches of snow. Got to breakfast to find one of the group suffering from altitude sickness. We discussed lots of options and she and her husband have stayed in Lobuche today with one of the guides to rest and, hopefully, recover. We’ll see how she does later on when we hear from the guide. So only 3 of us started off this morning. Difficult going as you couldn’t see the stones, holes, rivers, bridges and it was quite nice to finally join a well trodden path thanks to early walkers and yak trains. Beautiful day, just the crunch of snow as we walked along.
We then heard that one of our porters has descended due to altitude sickness. This is his 3rd trip so far this season and he’s been hit badly. Again, we’re hoping he’s ok and are waiting for the Update from our guides later.
Unfortunately, as the morning went on, I got a headache which I couldn’t shift. Breathing is a bit hard with this cold as well. I’m exhausted too and I knew that I would be struggling to get to Gorak Shep, let alone base camp. I quickly came to the decision that it would be completely stupid to even try as, even if I somehow managed to reach EBC, I definitely wouldn’t make it down again and that would put myself and others At risk. I spoke to our guide and he suggested I wait to see how I felt at gorak Shep. Fair enough but the symptoms of altitude sickness are there and it would be complete madness.
Mixed news again this afternoon. Shiv, Riann & Galden made it to EBC and back safely. Phenomenal! We had a celebration over tea and biscuits and they’ve gone to bed now, shattered! One of our porters has pulled out and descended due to altitude sickness. He will be fine though now. And Claire didn’t improve this morning and was helicoptered straight to Kathmandu. She too will improve immediately with the descent and we’re just waiting to hear back from her and Nigel. Our second guide has now rejoined us. EBC may be an option for tomorrow but it depends on my cold, how I’m feeling in the morning and what the weather is like too. There may be a short window of clear weather before the snow starts mid morning. Overnight lows in Gorak Shep are -17 tonight and the water in my bottle already has lumps of ice in it!! ❄⛄😳
Well, it’s 6am and I’m tucked up in my sleeping bag. I was wide awake before my alarm went off but was waiting for the knock at my door before I got up. I might be stupid but I’m not that stupid!! Feeling better today and well up for tackling that mountain. Unfortunately, that mountain has other ideas. Bish, our guide, knocked at the door at 5.45 and said all trekking up to Everest is off today. It’s snowing and cloudy and too dangerous. He was ever so apologetic, bless him. I half crawled out my sleeping bag, scraped a patch of ice off the window and there’s a sprinkling of snow on the ground. But that’s about all you can see, there’s thick cloud everywhere. You know what? What will be will be. I still maintain I made absolutely the right decision yesterday. I wouldn’t change that. At least I can now say it was the weather that stopped me reaching base camp. I’ve had an absolute blast getting here and have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support you’ve all shown me along the way. That’s probably been the most amazing bit about the journey – YOU GUYS! So thank you very much, it’s been really humbling and has brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion. I always like to leave one thing not seen/done when I’m on holiday as it gives me an excuse to come back again. As excuses go, though, this one is a bit extreme! And looking on the positive side of not being able to tackle base camp this morning, I get an extra hour in a warm sleeping bag…it’s bloomin’ freezing out there!! 😊
And just a quick update about Clare…I whatsapped Nigel yesterday and Clare is much improved. She has been kept in overnight at Kathmandu hospital as a precaution as she had some cerebral oedema (fluid on the brain due to altitude sickness) but she will be fine. He also said that they got on the helicopter in loads of layers and landed at Kathmandu airport in 33 degrees of heat. He thought HE was going to pass out! He also kindly sent us a photo of his hotel room with crisp white sheets & a hot shower, the bugger!
Ok, so a bit of a catch up as the Wi-fi was turned off early last night to save energy! So back to yesterday, day 12. We trekked from Pheriche to Phortse in hazy sunshine. We heard that there were tremendous thunderstorms in Kathmandu below us and snow storms in Gorak Shep above us. We had the best of the weather in the morning. Here’s our coffee stop mid morning, with the Pangboche monastery and mountains behind us. Now you don’t get that in Starbucks!
And so to day 13, Easter Sunday. Happy easter everyone. 🐥🐇🐣
We had a snowball fight before we left, then had to slide all the way to the bottom of the valley before walking up to the narrowest part to cross over the river, then walking up the valley again and then climbing all the way up to the top of the the next ridge. That was pretty hard going for the first 2 hours. Why hasn’t someone thought of building a very long bridge!! If you look very closely, you’ll see Phortse in the centre of the photo, hanging onto the side of the mountain.
And so to day 14, our final trekking day. It was very warm and the Different Strokes t shirt finally got its outing to celebrate safely getting back to the start point in Lukla.