As little as she likes to boast, Lynda-Marie Grosvold has earned some serious bragging rights, for she has just returned from the roof of the world.
The adventurous Lismore local’s most recent trip saw her ascend over 17,000 feet to the Everest Base Camp (EBC) in Nepal, in a trip that took her through the extreme craggy heights of the Himalayas.
Grosvold’s trek to the EBC was, by her own admission, her most daring adventure so far, and “has been on my bucket list for a few years now,” she said.
Aside from backpacking the West Coast Trail, Grosvold’s trip to the Himalayas has been her most exciting excursion to date, and “my biggest adventure thus far.”
Grosvold, inspired by stories of a previous hike done by two of her friends from PEI, who made the trek to the base camp before, and planned to do it again, wanted to accompany them on their next expedition -- so accompany them, she did.
”They did it three years ago, the basic up-and-down, to Everest Base Camp, and they said they’d do it again, because of the adventure and the people there,” said Grosvold. “I said if they were doing it again, I’d love to go myself. They decided to go, and I signed up.”
Although she didn’t travel to the absolute summit of Mount Everest, Grosvold travelled a significant distance into the mountains, eventually reaching EBC after 9 days of steady hiking, and almost three spent on the return hike -- the descent being far quicker and easier than the ascent.
”It was all about putting one foot in front of the other,” she said, adding that the true challenge was not only the steepness of the terrain itself, but the lack of oxygen that high up.
”It was a far greater challenge than sea-level breathing, so it takes longer to get to base camp,” Grosvold said.
The trip was slow going at times, as she and her hiking companions took the many hills and slopes they had to travel up slowly, and steadily.
“You just have to take little steps and breathers every once in a while; then a few more steps,” said Grosvold.
Despite the challenging nature of the hike, Grosvold was undaunted by the prospect of hiking the Himalayas, since “I’m an outdoor person. I love adventure, and wasn’t nervous. My parents were more nervous than I was.”
A big payoff of the adventure for Grosvold was the variety of scenery, with the hike starting out in areas with heavy trees and vegetation, and “then, as you get higher, you get above the treeline, and it gets a little more barren, and there’s a lot less colour. There’s a lot of white, grey and brown. There’s dirt, snow and glacial material are all over the place.”
Grosvold said the lack of proximity to an ocean and the ruggedness of the landscape were things that stood out as vastly different than the Canadian Maritimes to her, as she made her way to EBC, adding “even with the West Coast Trail in B.C., that could be high up, but that wasn’t really in the mountains.” Her ascent to the EBC most definitely was.
According to Grosvold, “It was an amazing trek that challenge me both physically and mentally – especially when my hiking teammates were helicoptered out due to one of them falling ill, due to a serious gastrointestinal illness. (They have, since then, fully recovered from that illness.)”
Eventually, after resting, Grosvold’s friend’s condition did not improve, and the risk of dehydration reared its ugly head. Both Grosvold’s friend and her husband were airlifted out, leaving Grosvold to continue on her own, with a guide and porter. She forged onward with a guide and porter, eventually reaching EBC – an amazing experience she wishes she could have shared with her fellow hikers.
Even Grosvold, herself, ended up dealing with a bit of illness, contracting the “Khumbu cough,” a condition that entails respiratory irritation brought on by the lack of oxygen and cold conditions.
“I had a bit of a cold to begin with,” Grosvold said, “and altitude doesn’t make things get better when you have a cold.”
Although her “Khumbu cough” and friend’s illness caused some problems, Grosvold said the weather was cooperative with only one day of rain -- the last day. The final two days of hiking to base camp were “pretty much clear sailing, with beautiful scenery all around.”
”It was beautiful sunshine, and one day was windy. It was very cold in the morning, but as the sun comes up, you’re closer to the sun because of the higher elevation, so it warms up to about eight to 10 degrees,” said Grosvold. “You can hike for a lot of the day in a long-sleeved shirt. I didn’t need my jacket at any time other than first thing in the morning.”
In addition to the weather, Grosvold was grateful for the trustworthy people of Nepal who assisted with the journey, and served as guides and porters.
”Nepali people are amazing. They are so trustworthy, and there’s no fear at all being there.”
Grosvold said perhaps her climb may inspire others to get outside, “to be active and try something new. I know this adventure has opened my eyes to a whole new beauty of our planet, and the mountains – but most importantly it has made me more thankful for what I have, and what we have as Canadians, and take for granted.”
When asked what her next step is, Grosvold said she’d love to return to Nepal, since “it would be awesome to do that trek again,” and that places like New Zealand or Peru aren’t out of the question.
Grosvold said she’d also like to try something different in the Himalayas, as there are many hikes available in the mountainous region.