Last month, Wilton teen Trisha Prabhu took a trip with her father to Nepal. But they were there for more than a simple sightseeing visit. The Middlebrook Middle School eighth-grader and her father, Arun Prabhu, completed a 10-day trek to the South Base Camp of Mount Everest.
Trisha said hearing a family friend’s account of their experience traveling to Mount Everest inspired her unexpected interest in making her own visit to the world’s tallest mountain.
But it also meant commitment and hard work. Arun, 49, said the trip required lots of mental and physical preparation starting months before the actual beginning of the trek to make sure they could handle the arduous effort and challenges presented by the adventure.
The father-daughter duo found traveling companions among friends from out of town, a mother-daughter pair that provided 14-year-old Trisha with a friend of similar age to take the trip with her.
“It really wouldn’t have been the same without someone my age to keep me company,” Trisha said, “having a friend was the highlight of the trip for me.”
The foursome arrived in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, on Apr. 9, 2022. The next day, they took a small plane to a town called Lukla, the starting point of most hikes to Everest from Nepal. They landed at the Hillary-Tenzing Airport, named for the first two men to summit Everest. With a mountain wall at one end of the runway and a sheer drop off the end of a cliff at the other, it’s often described as the most dangerous airport in the world.
“It was like nothing I have ever seen,” Arun recalled, adding, “a little bit scary to land in.”
Upon arrival in Lukla, the group gathered all the items they needed and began their hike almost immediately. According to Trisha, The first day was by far the easiest. They got acquainted with their porters and enjoyed a relatively flat hike, with views that got better every hour.
After six kilometers of hiking, the sun set and they had to stop hiking. Their lodgings each night were what Nepalese locals call “teahouses” — crude wooden lodges set at stops along the trail with little electricity and no hot water.
On the second day, the slopes became steeper, but it still was not too cold. At the end of their second day, Trisha said, they were still “fully energized.”
The views improved as they ascended in altitude, and by the fourth day, they could see much further around them in almost every direction. At the same time, it also began to get much colder, especially at nighttime in the teahouses.
Although the altitude was not initially a problem, acclimating to the much higher point above sea level began to make hiking more difficult for the group. “We had to consciously think about how we were breathing after the fifth day,” Trisha recalled.
The difficulty of the terrain and environment got even more challenging as the days progressed, and the temperature continued to drop, freezing the water in their backpacks. According to Arun, the most difficult days were the eighth and ninth days, after which they arrived at their final destination — the Nepal Base Camp. They’d covered almost 40 miles on foot to a point over 5,600 meters high.
For Trisha, their arrival at the base camp was a moment of both accomplishment and relief. They were glad they’d been able to make it all the way, especially because, retrospectively, the weather took an extreme downturn soon after they departed, which could have made their trip impossible had they started a few days later.
From the base camp, they boarded a helicopter and returned to Lukla, covering the distance of their almost 10-day hike in a mere 25 minutes.
Trisha noted that as she stepped onto the helicopter, “[I felt] rewarded that all the physical and mental preparation had finally paid off.” Equally fulfilling were the experiences that they had along the way, like seeing the stars in the night sky clearer than they ever had, or meeting people from all over the world in the teahouses. They learned about the interesting lives of their porters, who only were porters for a short portion of the year and subsistence farmers for the rest. Finally, they were introduced to the Nepalese culture and cuisine.
Arun offered that anyone in Wilton who is interested in planning a similar trip is welcome to reach out to him via email.