FHT Vice President Maria Mason set out for Nepal yesterday to take part in an epic challenge that will see her ascend Mount Everest.
Over three weeks Maria will be ascending just beyond Everest Base Camp to an altitude of 5,700 m, close to two thirds of the full height of the world’s highest peak, and more than four times higher than Ben Nevis.
Maria has been doing charity challenges for the past 15 years, having skydived, wing-walked and taken part in treks to Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China. To celebrate 25 years in business, Maria wanted to do something really big this year.
After setting her sights on Everest in January, Maria had been training four to five times each week, doing boxing, boot camp, running, long distance walking and yoga. In addition Maria trained with an altitude mask to simulate the reduced oxygen levels at high altitudes and meditates daily to further help with breathing and to stay calm.
Luggage is understandably limited for a trek such as this. However, Maria said she couldn’t leave without some therapy essentials:
‘I never go anywhere on remote treks without three bottles of essential oils. I take peppermint oil for headaches and for digestive problems, lavender to help me sleep and tea tree for anti-infection. I put tea tree in a pump spray and spray it everywhere to keep germs at bay. These three essential oils are vital for trekking remotely.’
Maria is currently in Kathmandu at 1,330 m above sea level. Here she will spend two days acclimatising before flying up to Tenzing-Hilary Airport in Lukla.
Tenzing-Hilary Airport is a small airport nestled between mountains at 2,860 m, named after Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary, the first two people to reach the summit of Everest (8,848 m). The airport is considered to be the most dangerous in the world.
From Lukla Maria will begin her eight-day ascent to Base Camp (5,360 m) and beyond, stopping at Namche Bazaar (3,440 m) and Tengboche Monastery (3,867 m) along the way.
Relishing the prospect of visiting Tengboche Monastery, Maria says:
‘I am hoping to spend the day with the monks, as I am a practising Buddhist. You can get the monks to bless you for your trek. Tengboche Monastery is one of the highest in the world and is a working monastery. You get to go to prayers in the evening with the monks. Everest is sacred and you need to have respect for the mountain.’
Maria is raising funds for The Brain Tumour Charity, as her reception manager of 15 years had a brain tumour nine years ago. More than £1,000 has been raised to date, with the target set at £2,000.